Scott Dixon is the steadiest hand in racing. The second-winningest driver in IndyCar history, a record he tied a month ago and took outright today, was not running well in the first 40 laps of the 80-lap event, but he collected just a small bit of damage in a larger wreck as cars crashed ahead of and behind him multiple times throughout the race. All that left him in 12th with 50 to go, the first window to pit and make the end of the race on fuel.
Dixon stopped there, along with a few other drivers. A caution, predictably, followed immediately afterward. That forced the rest of the field to pit, promoting Dixon to second behind Josef Newgarden on an ultra-risky strategy that would have required four or five yellows in the closing stint to work as a fuel mileage play. Dixon let Newgarden pull away on the restart in what looked like an attempt to build a gap before stopping under green, then took the lead when Newgarden stopped during yet another yellow a handful of laps later. He survived a restart with a wreck behind him, then led when another yellow came out with 5 to go.
This time, the race was red flagged to guarantee a two-lap shootout. Unfortunately for Dixon, that put polesitter and day's fastest driver Scott McLaughlin in second. McLaughlin held with Dixon throughout the restart, but he slid out slightly in the second-to-last corner and did not have the positioning to make a move under braking in the final turn. He got alongside Dixon to finish second by less than the length of the winning car, but Dixon took the win.
It is an enormous championship result. Dixon entered the day on the tail-end of a six-car fight for the title with four races to go. He leaves in second, just six points back in what is now realistically a five-car battle. Will Power still leads after finishing a disappointing 11th here, while Marcus Ericsson sits 12 points back in third after a disappointing 14th. Josef Newgarden and Alex Palou remain in realistic contention, both within 33 points of the leader. Pato O'Ward, who retired from the race with a mechanical issue seemingly caused by a hit to the transmission by Graham Rahal early in the race, is now a distant 59 points back and would need a miracle to win the title with just three races to go. Scott McLaughlin, 58 points back, is also in that outside championship window.
Behind the title contenders, the day's biggest drives came from Andretti teammates Alexander Rossi and Colton Herta. Both were involved in early crashes, but both came out with healthy cars and pushed through the field on restart after restart. Rossi came home fourth and Herta came home fifth, finishes that keep both in the top ten of the series standings in peak-and-valley seasons too inconsistent to turn race-winning speed into a championship.
IndyCar has just one week off before its final oval race of the season at Gateway. Two weeks after that, back-to-back natural terrain road courses will close out the season.
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