Dixon wins at Mid-Ohio again after starting 22nd

 

The Sports Network

Lexington, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - Scott Dixon started last in the 22-car field but charged his way to the front to win Sunday's 90-lap IndyCar Series race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Dixon, the three-time and defending series champion, scored his and Chip Ganassi Racing's first win of the season. During Saturday's qualifying at this 2.258-mile, 13-turn course, Dixon had his two fastest laps in the first segment disallowed after he brought out a red flag for a spin off course. He qualified 22nd. A thunderstorm had moved through the area prior to qualifying, as drivers dealt with wet track conditions for most of the session.

It's the fifth time Dixon has won at Mid-Ohio. His previous victories here occurred in 2007, '09, '11 and '12. He also extended Ganassi's streak of wins at this track to six (2009-14).

"Truthfully, I didn't think it was possible," Dixon said of his win after starting from the rear of the field.

Dixon gambled on fuel late in the race, as he made his last pit stop on lap 62. Josef Newgarden was on pace to win this event, but Newgarden, who pitted three laps after Dixon, had a mishap during his final stop and received a drive-through penalty for pit safety violation, ending his shot at the victory.

Dixon grabbed the lead for good with 23 laps to go and then crossed the finish line 5.4 seconds ahead of his closest competitor, Sebastian Bourdais, the pole sitter. After taking the checkered flag, Dixon pulled his car off to the left of the track in turn 1, as he was very close to running out of gas. He then walked to victory circle.

"We didn't run out of fuel there, but we would have on the backside of the circuit and it would have been a long walk back," Dixon said. "We had great pit stops, and our strategy was just spot on. It was a long, hard fought day but huge thanks to Chevrolet. We got fantastic fuel mileage there."

This was not the furthest back that Dixon had started and won a race. In 2001, he started 23rd and drove to victory at Nazareth Speedway in Pennsylvania.

Bourdais made his second podium appearance of the season, and his second-place run marked his best finish at Mid-Ohio.

"Hats off to Scott and the Ganassi guys," Bourdais said. "We didn't have anything for them. They were clearly the class of the field."

James Hinchcliffe finished third, followed by rookie Carlos Munoz and Graham Rahal.

Will Power's sixth-place run moved him back into the lead in the IndyCar championship standings. Helio Castroneves entered this race with a 13-point lead, but Castroneves finished four laps behind in 19th after he experienced a stuck throttle at the start of the event. He is now four points behind Power, his teammate at Team Penske.

"At first, I thought the throttle issue was a quick fix, because as soon as I started the car for 'gentlemen, start your engines,' I knew there was something wrong," Castroneves said. "Then, during the parade laps, I noticed that it was stuck. That could have been a big problem and caused a big crash.

"When I came back down pit road, we figured out it was a bigger problem. There was just a bit of a mistake in our fuel mapping. It was a tough race, knowing that I was on a lap by myself the entire time. We will rebound from this. We might have been knocked down, but we will get back up."

Three races remain -- The Milwaukee Mile (Aug. 17), Sonoma Raceway (Aug. 24) and Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California (Aug. 30).

"As far as the standings go, we have a small lead, but the key from here on out is to finish ahead of the other guys week in and week out," Power said. "If we can do that, we will be in good shape to challenge for the championship."

Dixon became the 10th different driver to win an IndyCar race this season. He claimed his 34th career victory, placing him in a tie with Al Unser Jr. for sixth on the all-time race winners list.

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