TORONTO – With chaos unfolding behind him, the Iceman kept his cool for his first win in 23 starts, putting a record-breaking seventh IndyCar championship back within reach for Scott Dixon.
The No. 9 Honda driver, who jumped two spots to 44 points from teammate Chip Ganassi Racing in the IndyCar title chase, held off Sunday polesitter Colton Herta late in the Honda Indy Toronto race to claim his fourth victory on the streets of Toronto. Toronto, his first in 2022 and his first since Race 1 at Texas Motor Speedway in early May 2021.
Here’s how he did it:
Here comes the ice man
After qualifying second on Saturday, Dixon waited patiently behind Herta during the first stint of the race, which included a brief yellow for the injured Takuma Sato, who failed to clear through lap 1 and turn 1. On lap 17, Dixon, Josef Newgarden (who started third) and Alexander Rossi (fourth) pitted, leaving Herta in front and risking a yellow that could overtake him.
Herta decided to pit in the following lap and avert this risk. Unfortunately for him, Scott McLaughlin, pitted directly in front of him and after starting sixth just ahead of him, did the same lap. On such a tight pit lane, Herta was a bit slower than he otherwise might have been on the pit exit to cleanly maneuver around the No. 3 Chevy, and by the time he reached Turn 1, Dixon was with him to get an effective traditional strategy lead. .
From ‘ridiculous’ to chaos
By lap 35, Dixon and Herta were 2.5 seconds behind the leader with a loss of over 10 seconds to third, with Jimmie Johnson looking to extend an extremely long first stint. On the radio, Newgarden said “ridiculous” when told he had 15 seconds on the front duo.
But right at the halfway point, that advantage would all but disappear for Dixon and Herta with a sequence of three cautions in less than 15 laps. First, Felix Rosenqvist dived inside future McLaren Racing family teammate, great teammate Alexander Rossi, for fourth on lap 45. Rossi continued to run alongside him coming out of the corner and they hit the tires again, seeming to knock the wheel out of Rossi’s hand. – leaving no chance for the Andretti driver to keep his No. 27 Honda off the wall.
It was the second time in as many races that Rossi lost his grip on the steering wheel with wheel-to-wheel contact on track. This time, however, he was outside.
“It’s just one of those things,” Rossi said after checking in the track care center. “It’s a shame because we had a car in front.
Question, what could he do to not lose his grip on the steering wheel?
“I’m open to suggestions,” he said.
On lap 45, 20 of the 25 cars in the field pitted, bringing most of the field into the second half of the race in the same pit sequence, but shortly after the race the green returned on lap 49, race control again threw yellow on lap 56 for concrete coming in at Turn 1. Minimal repairs only lasted a few laps as it was believed no further damage would occur for the rest of the race.
When the race went green on lap 59, Kyle Kirkwood attacked Johnson in Turn 9 and the #48 driver was unaware that the Foyt car was there. They both entered each other and turned around.
Super Mario binding
The win finally gave Dixon his 52nd career IndyCar win and moved him into a tie for second all-time with Mario Andretti. He still sits 15 wins behind all-time leader AJ Foyt, though Dixon said before Mid-Ohio that he doesn’t plan to do anything else career-wise for the next five years.
The victory extended Dixon’s records of 18 consecutive seasons with at least one victory and 20 total seasons with at least one win.
Sunday’s big movers
Behind Dixon and Herta, Felix Rosenqvist took the first podium in the Arrow McLaren SP, climbing from eighth to third. Graham Rahal climbed from 14th to fourth, followed by points leader Marcus Ericsson (fifth), Alex Palou (sixth), Simon Pagenaud (seventh), Christian Lundgaard (eighth), McLaughlin (ninth) and Newgarden (10th).
The race results leave Ericsson 35 points ahead of Will Power (who finished 15th on Sunday) in the title race. Palou, despite his torrid week, jumped to third (37 points back), followed by Dixon in fourth, Newgarden in joint fourth with Dixon and Pato O’Ward in sixth (75 points back).
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Scott Dixon dominates Toronto to tie Mario Andretti for IndyCar wins