Scott Dixon endures another Indy 500 heartbreak

INDIANAPOLIS – Scott Dixon said the Indy 500 doesn’t owe him anything; that he can accept the fact that he is one of the greatest drivers in the history of the race but has only one win to show for his efforts.

After Sunday’s 106thu Indianapolis 500, five-time pole-sitter and the six-time NTT IndyCar Series champion may want to reconsider that comment.

Coming into the race, Dixon had found almost every imaginable way not to win the biggest race of the year, with the exception of his 2008 win by a long shot.

On Sunday, he found a new way to lose.

After starting on the pole and leading 95 of the 200 laps, Dixon entered the pit lane as the leader to make his final pit stop that would lead him to an apparent second Indy 500 victory. because he came too fast.

Driving an IndyCar race speeding in the pit lane, and the most dominant driver in the field was given a pass penalty.

In the cockpit, Dixon was furious. Up to that point he had driven a faultless race and knew his bid for victory had disappeared due to a penalty.

In the pit lane, his crew members bowed their heads in disbelief. His wife Emma was distraught and told NBC Sports she was “gutted” by the call.

She then said that stopping the race for a red flag after Jimmie Johnson’s hard crash in the second turn with five laps to go was like adding “salt to Scott’s wounds for what they did to him in 2020”.

In that race, Dixon drove behind Takuma Sato and realized that the Tokyo rider would run out of fuel in the last four laps of the race. When Spencer Pigot hit the end of the pit road damper with five laps to go, IndyCar Race Control decided to let the race finish under yellow.

This allowed Sato to save fuel and get to the checkered flag and Dixon was unable to advance past the leader.

106 on Sundaythu However, the Indianapolis 500 was stopped by Race Control for 10 minutes with a red flag. Once Johnson’s damaged car was removed from the track, it essentially created a “green and white checkered” flag.

IndyCar does not have an “overtime” rule like NASCAR. Inside the cockpit of the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda, that gave Dixon even more time to fume over the penalty.

Team owner Chip Ganassi left the pit area during the red flag to walk to another of his driver’s pits. It was Marcus Ericsson, the leader at the time of the red flag. He was stopped at the end of pit road directly in front of Pat O’Ward’s Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet.

Ericsson, a former Formula 1 driver from Sweden, was able to win his first Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, using a great strategy on the restart to break the draft, which would make it easy for O’Ward to cruise right up front.

Ericsson’s serpentine moves were successful as he built a 3-second lead over the 23-year-old from Monterrey, Mexico heading to the checkered flag before Sage Karem’s Chevrolet crashed into the Turn 2 wall.

At the time, Ericsson and O’Ward were entering turn four, but IndyCar threw out a yellow flag and the race ended under caution, with Chip Ganassi Racing the winner.

Dixon finished 21st.

In the No. 9 pit, Dixon’s race strategist, Chip Ganassi Racing managing director Mike Hull, had very subdued celebrations. Ganassi won the race, but it wasn’t Dixon who had his heart ripped out of his chest and waved in his face by the cruelty that is Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“I wouldn’t say Marcus saved the day, he had a good car all day,” Hull told NBCSports.com. “All five of our cars were excellent race cars. Training and qualification confirmed it.

“But Marcus knows how to win. He won it today for 160 people in our building.”

The winner could just as easily have been Dixon, who dominated the race, had a car that could take the lead at will, was rarely tested on track and had flawless strategy.

That was before it disappeared with a speeding penalty in the pits.

“As far as Scott goes, we called a great race, he drove a great race and we’re doing things together as a team,” Hull said. “We support each other and we will go to the next event. People say that all the time, but that’s how it is in racing.

“I think we had five good race cars and any of the five, as Marcus just did, we could have won this race.

“I was with Scott Dixon for 20 years. We’ve had the best times and the not so great times. We called it a great race today and he drove a great race today and that’s what we’ll be looking at in the future.”

Michael Cannon, Dixon’s engineer, said: “Scott Dixon is the epitome of excellence. It’s one of those things. We were exactly where we wanted to be. Rules are rules. Finally, we will try again next year. That’s what we do every time.”

The Indianapolis 500 is like a girlfriend in a toxic relationship that a man can’t get off his mind, no matter how badly she treats him. She gives the suitor just enough attention to give him hope, before kicking him to the pavement once more with an evil laugh.

In Dixon’s case, that’s five Indy 500 poles, second most in the race’s history behind Rick Mears’ record six.

<em>Scott Dixon walks through pit lane with his wife Emma Davies-Dixon after qualifying for the 106th Indy 500. (Kristin Enzor/For IndyStar / USA TODAY Sports).</em>” data-src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/8xjuC8f.zkcg550Ldy5Mng–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MA–/https://s.yimg.com/uu/api/res/ 1.2/PABMPp1kRMOWa6sZlTcEcw–~B/aD0wO3c9MDthcHBpZD15dGFjaHlvbg–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/nbcsports.com/f41c8605888dd11ce10ea2b5e78c656f”/><noscript><img alt=Scott Dixon walks through pit lane with his wife Emma Davies-Dixon after qualifying for the 106th Indy 500. (Kristin Enzor/For IndyStar / USA TODAY Sports).” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/8xjuC8f.zkcg550Ldy5Mng–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MA–/https://s.yimg.com/uu/api/res/1.2/ PABMPp1kRMOWa6sZlTcEcw–~B/aD0wO3c9MDthcHBpZD15dGFjaHlvbg–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/nbcsports.com/f41c8605888dd11ce10ea2b5e78c656f” class=”caas-img”/>

Scott Dixon walks through pit lane with his wife Emma Davies-Dixon after qualifying for the 106th Indy 500. (Kristin Enzor/For IndyStar / USA TODAY Sports).

It is also the Indianapolis 500 career record held at 665, surpassing the previous record of 644 held by four-time winner Al Unser. Dixon broke Unser’s record by leading the 133rd lap and passed both runner-up Ralph De Palma (612) and Unser (644) in Sunday’s race.

It’s also three runner-up finishes, including two for Dario Franchitti in 2007 and 2012, and for Sato in 2020. All three runner-up finishes ended in a caution.

Dixon has eight top-five finishes in 20 career Indianapolis 500 starts.

All of these near misses and heartbreaks are close to the surface for Dixon, his wife, his agent, ex-driver Stefan Johansson and many of the crew, who see the driver as a great friend and mentor rather than a co-worker.

This loss hurt – and deeply for the driver, who got out of the car and hugged his wife with tears in his eyes.

Scott Dixon is a stand-up guy. The type of individual who has a strong character and always does the right thing. Colleague Alexander Rossi once said that Scott Dixon is the man every driver in the series is measured against on and off the track.

Scott Dixon is a great friend, a great husband to Emma and a great father to daughters Poppy, Tilly and son Kit. His friends are more like his family and he represents all that is great about the sport of INDYCAR racing.

But for some reason, the Indianapolis 500 likes to test its inner strength with one crushing disappointment after another.

Sunday was just another slap in the face.

“It’s heartbreaking to be honest,” Dixon told NBC Sports. “It must have been very close. I came into the pits and had to lock the rear. I knew it was going to be very close. Maybe 1 mile per hour or something. It’s frustrating. The car was really good all day. He had great speed and the team did an amazing job on strategy.

“I just messed up.

Dixon said he was very happy for Ericsson and had a car that deserved to win.

“If it had gone smoothly we would have been in contention at the end, but obviously not,” Dixon said. “This really hurts.

Johansson is a former Formula 1 driver and former CART and Indianapolis 500 driver who serves as Dixon’s agent. He too had tears in his eyes as he hugged the riders after the race.

“Honestly, I don’t know the details at all,” Johansson told NBC Sports in pit lane after the Indy 500. “If it’s a speeding violation, it’s a speeding violation.

“Poor Scott, I feel terrible. He was dominating the race all day, then something like this happened.

“This place is just brutal. It really is. It is the hardest race to win and the easiest race to win. It just depends on where you are. It’s always something different here.”

Johansson said the red flag was the right thing to do, but “I wish they would have done it in 2020.

“Of all Scott’s mistakes, this one hurts the most,” Johansson said. “As races go, it’s not easy to dominate these races.

“He was a class act in the field and has nothing but disappointment to show for it.

Nothing but pain, heartbreak, sadness and bitter, bitter disappointment for one of the greatest drivers in Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar history.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500

‘This hurts the most’: Scott Dixon endures more heartbreak in Indy 500 originally appeared on NBCSports.com

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