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Dixon Triumphant At Bommarito Automotive Group 500

Claims 55th Career Win, Stays In Pursuit Of Seventh Championship

by Brian Ledford

(MADISON, IL) After the recent week of triple-digit temperatures in the area, the hottest moment in local sports this weekend was the perfect performance netted by Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon in the NTT IndyCar Series.

Photo Credit: INDYCAR -Chris Owens

By utilizing a smart strategy of fuel conservation, as well as implementing the savvy racing the 43-year-old Kiwi perpetually performs, Dixon powered the #9 PNC Bank Honda to victory at the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Axalta and Valvoline Sunday at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway.

With the triumph, his second of the season and 55th overall, Dixon vaulted into second place in the series’ points standings with two races left.

Dixon’s team managed the entire 260-lap race on the 1.25-mile oval with only three pit stops, one fewer than the rest of the 28-car field. He also had to overcome a low starting position (16th) as a result of a nine-spot grid penalty that was enforced by the team’s unapproved engine change after the last race two weekends ago, the Gallagher Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

“This team was perfect,” Dixon said after the race. “We took a pretty good grid penalty today. We had to go the alternate route, and it worked out perfectly. They gave me the (fuel) number I needed to be getting.”

Photo Credit: INDYCAR – James Black

With about 40 laps left, and while other drivers who were currently on top needing the extra pit stop for re-fueling, Dixon stayed on the track and successfully claimed the lead during Lap 221.

The six-time IndyCar champ went on to snare a 22-second victory over runner-up Pato O’Ward (Arrow McLaren Racing) while David Malukas (Dale Coyne Racing with HMD) claimed third. The trio were the only ones to finish on the lead lap in a race that had a 149.189 MPH average.

“Scott Dixon did Scott Dixon today,” O’Ward said afterwards. “I was happy with the strategy today. I was happy with my car. But, yeah … Scott Dixon.”

Dixon is now mathematically the only other driver to challenge for the 2023 series title. Current points leader, Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Alex Palou, finished seventh Sunday in the #10 American Legion Honda and holds a 74-point advantage (565-491) heading into the season’s penultimate race, this coming weekend’s Bitnile.com Grand Prix of Portland.

At Sunday’s race in Madison, temperatures in the mid-70s resulted in a cooler track and cleaner racing overall. It resulted in only two cautions on the afternoon, an opening-lap crash in Turn 1 that ousted rookie Benjamin Pederson (A.J. Foyt Enterprises) and an incident that involved 2019 Bommarito 500 winner Takuma Sato (Chip Ganassi Racing) in Lap 122.

Polesitter Josef Newgarden (Team Penske), who entered Sunday’s race second in the points standings – and winner of the prior four oval races this year – dominated early and led almost all of the first 100 laps.

Photo Credit – INDYCAR James Black

Having to make a fourth pit stop late in the race pushed the pressure in order for him to stay in standings’ contention. He brushed the wall in Lap 211, resulting in a 25th place finish and a sudden stop to a potential third NTT IndyCar title.

“I was just trying to catch up,” Newgarden said afterwards. “I was just trying to get through cars as quickly as I could when I pitted, and it didn’t work out. I got in the marbles, just a touch too high.”

With the setback, Newgarden now sits in third in the point standings (-125).

Alexander Rossi (Arrow McLaren Racing) finished fourth while Scott McLaughlin (Team Penske) finished fifth.

With the aforementioned fuel strategy, Dixon claimed his first lead of the day on Lap 113 and proceeded to hold onto the top spot until he pitted on Lap 197, handing the lead to O’ Ward. Then when O’ Ward had to pit on Lap 214 and surrendered the lead, both Rossi and Colton Herta (Andretti Autosport) had a quick charge to the front.

Photo Credit: INDYCAR – James Black

Rossi and then Herta had to pit for a fourth time while Dixon, still on only his third trip to the pits, jumped to the front on Lap 221 and stayed there until the checkered flag. He led 123 laps out of the 260 raced that day.

And although the differential of points (74) is wide at the moment for Dixon to claim a potential seventh championship, it’s not impossible.

The ensuing results in Portland this weekend will either secure either a second career title for Palou or at least make his quest for it a little more intriguing.

For more information on the NTT IndyCar Series, go to their official website.

In other action at Madison this weekend, Christian Rasmussen (HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing) won his fourth race of the season in the 2023 Firestone Indy NXT Series with Saturday night’s win at the OUTFRONT Showdown and maintained his top spot in the point standings.

Meanwhile, Davey Hamilton Jr. (Legacy Autosport) won his first career win in the USAC Silver Crown Series with a Sunday afternoon victory at the OUTFRONT 100.

World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway continues its high-profile, triple-header season with the NHRA Midwest Nationals, September 29–October 1 on the quarter-mile drag strip.

By trade, he is a six-time, regional Emmy Award-winning news videographer/editor for KTVI/KPLR-TV. By hobby, he is a writer for Arch City Media, dating back to February 2014. Emphasis is on featuring and promoting local women's sports, but will cover anything that is not reported by traditional media outlets. Also a contributor to local concert reviews.

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