Dixon draws level with Andretti with win No. 52 in Toronto

Phillip Abbott/Motorsport Images

Dixon draws level with Andretti with win No. 52 in Toronto

IndyCar

Dixon draws level with Andretti with win No. 52 in Toronto

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Scott Dixon broke into victory lane for the first time this year, for the fourth time at Toronto, and moved to second in a tie with Mario Andretti on the all-time IndyCar win list — with 52 — as the Chip Ganassi Racing driver overtook polesitter Colton Herta and never looked back in the contact-filled contest.

The six-time champion closely followed Herta in the opening stage of the 85-lap race and pounced after pitting one lap before Herta. Slightly slowed on pit lane, Herta emerged on cold tires and watched as Dixon sailed by into Turn 1. The battle for the win was all but settled after the first round of stops as the New Zealander built, lost, and regained a lead of 2.0s or more over Herta as multiple caution flags waved.

It was a classic performance by Dixon whose ability to control a car on a bumpy and low-grip track like Toronto, along with his legendary fuel-saving skills, made it all but impossible for those chasing the No. 9 Honda to keep pace.

“It was a tough drive, man,” said Dixon, who went 23 races between wins. “Ended a streak there, which was fantastic. The team definitely deserved it. Big thanks to Honda.”

The real fun in the closing laps was for second place as Felix Rosenqvist enjoyed his best day as an Arrow McLaren SP driver on his way to third in the No. 7 Chevy. Nobody was going to deny Dixon, but Herta was in striking distance as the Swede did everything he could to claim second; he fell short by a half a second in the end, and it wasn’t for a lack of trying.

“Felix was really fast and I’m glad we were able to keep him behind us,” Herta said of his No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda entry. “Obviously got beat up out there by Dixon, but a race I can be proud of — a pole and second place. I can be proud of that.”

Rosenqvist was all smiles after earning his first podium since 2020.

“What a fun race,” he said. “We had to fight really hard for it. First podium with the team; really stoked.”

Graham Rahal recovered from a disappointing 14th-place starting spot to fourth, which was his best finish of the season.

“For us, P4 feels like a win,” Rahal said. “This is a good kickstart to the rest of our year.”

Among the 10 full-time IndyCar teams, CGR was the class of the field in Toronto with Dixon’s win and hotly contested run to fifth by teammate Marcus Ericsson who tangled a few times near the end of the race with teammate Alex Palou. Palou was the biggest mover of all as he motored from 22nd to an impressive sixth and, despite the contact, both drivers kept from going overboard in the exchanges.

“It looks close,” Palou said while watching the replays. “But I had to try. It was all jammed up. I couldn’t really go much more there and we were all fighting, but it was fun, and yeah, super happy with how the race ended up.”

The Honda Indy Toronto was great for some of the title contenders, but definitely not all as a bad pit stop took Josef Newgarden out of contention; the Team Penske driver finished 10th. AMSP’s Pato O’Ward did go from a start of 15th to 11th, but he was never a factor — a rarity. Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsports’ David Malukas was excited to start fifth before he was knocked around for most of the race and settled for 12th. Accustomed to turning his poor starting positions of late into race-day miracles, Penske’s Will Power was out of luck at Toronto as he placed 15th — a gain of one spot.

If Malukas felt like he was pushed around for two-hours, it was nothing compared to Romain Grosjean, whose Andretti car must have returned to the pits with tire marks and scars found front and back and side to side. He finished 15th. His best friend, Andretti teammate Alexander Rossi, was the most unfortunate driver on the day as he lost his chance at a podium when he and Rosenqvist banged wheels and his fourth-place starting position was turned into a distant 23rd when his car ricocheted nose-first into the wall.

Round 10 of 17 wasn’t exactly a classic in terms of passes for the lead, but with all of the adversity in the race, a packed house got to see IndyCar return to Canada and watch as the series’ finest drivers play hard without going crazy in most instances. The only doubleheader of the year occurs in a matter of days as Iowa beckons and the championship begins a rapid march towards the grand finale over the next eight weeks.

The 85-lap race opened with a mostly clean start, barring Takuma Sato who was knocked into the Turn 1 wall after banging wheels with Simon Pagenaud. Colton Herta led Scott Dixon for less than two laps before the first caution of the day was required to clean up the debris from Sato’s car.

Big improvers included Alex Palou, who went from P22 to P17. Pato O’Ward fell from P15 to P20.

The green waved on lap five and Felix Rosenqvist took P6 from David Malukas. Will Power was up to P12 from P16 after hitting Romain Grosjean in the right sidepod on the restart. After completing seven laps, Herta held a 1.2s advantage over Dixon, 2.5s over Josef Newgarden, 3.0s over Alexander Rossi and 3.6s over Scott McLaughlin.

Palou made his first pit stop on lap 10 as his team went to an alternate strategy in the hope of capitalizing on adversity later in the race.

The start of lap 12 showed Herta with a 1.4 lead over Dixon as Grosjean out-braked Power to take P12 in Turn 3. Power, Pagenaud and Malukas hit pit lane at the end of the lap with Power’s taking a bit longer than desired. Callum Ilott pitted from P7 on the next lap and lost a few seconds sitting idle. Jack Harvey pitted as well and spent an eternity in the box.

By lap 17, Herta sat on a 1.7s lead over Dixon as Newgarden and Rossi pitted. Dixon followed at the end of the lap, and Herta came in at the end of the next lap. Slowed exiting the pits with a car in the next pit stall, Dixon pounced into Turn 1 as Herta emerged on cold tires.

Ilott ran into the Turn 3 runoff after locking his brakes on lap 23; he pitted to have a new front wing installed after breaking the left-front element at some point in the race. Graham Rahal, one of the few to start on the sturdier Firestone primary tires, was an outlier who stayed out and built a 14s lead over Dixon. Rahal pitted at the end of the lap and returned in P14.

On the same primary plan as Rahal, Pato O’Ward took the lead from Rinus VeeKay on lap 30. O’Ward and VeeKay would soon pit and Dalton Kellett’s rough home event ended on lap 32 as smoke trailed from his car.

Dixon started lap 35 with a 2.5s lead over Herta, 14.8s over Newgarden and 15.5 over Rossi. O’Ward took P14 from Grosjean on lap 38 as an out-of-sequence Conor Daly pitted from P3. Lap 39 saw Grosjean and VeeKay make contact twice in and out of Turn 3; VeeKay made the pass for P14 later in the lap.

The gap from Dixon to Herta held solid at 2.5s at the start of lap 42 but the margin expanded to 16.5s over Newgarden who was conserving fuel. Rossi was 16.5 back and Rosenqvist in P5 was 18.3s arrears. Malukas was next at 20.2s behind Dixon.

Aggressive and late passing attempt on Lap 45 by Rosenqvist to take P4 from Rossi at Turn 3 and side-by-side contact on the uphill section as Rosenqvist’s car kicked sideways with oversteer induced wheel-to-wheel contact that fired Rossi into the wall. Race over for Rossi, whose left-front suspension was broken in the meeting with the wall. Caution flew and the whole field headed into the pits on lap 47 as IndyCar judged no penalty would be assessed for the contact.

Dixon emerged first among those on standard strategies as Newgarden lost time as the left-rear wheel refused to come off the car and a fueling issue was experienced due to the car being too far away from pit wall. Once the stops were done it was VeeKay leading Daly, with Dixon leading followed by Herta and Rosenqvist and McLaughlin.

Lap 53 saw Dixon dropping time to Daly as Herta approached his gearbox. VeeKay gained on Daly by 2.0s using his faster alternate tires to draw away. All chasing him were on the primaries. Another caution flew on lap 55 as parts of the Turn 1 track surface broke up and were being thrown at the trailing cars. Daly pitted from second. The leaders at this stage were VeeKay, Dixon, Herta, Rosenqvist, McLaughlin and Rahal in P6.

Championship leader Marcus Ericsson ran P8. Palou was up to P9 from a P22 start. O’Ward was up to P11 from P20. It was back to green on lap 59 and while no changes took place up front, teammates Palou and Ericsson made contact a few times starting in Turn 3 as Palou tried to go around the outside. Ericsson held onto P8. Another caution was needed at the end of the lap when Kyle Kirkwood tried to pass Jimmie Johnson while he was halfway alongside him. The turning Johnson spun on the front of Kirkwood’s car with the two coming to a stop. Johnson’s car was re-fired and sent down the road. Kirkwood climbed out of his car.

Leader VeeKay pitted at the end of lap 61, promoting Dixon to the lead, and returned in P15. The upcoming restart had Dixon, Herta, Rosenqvist, McLaughlin, Rahal and Pagenaud holding the top six. Ericsson, Palou, Christian Lundgaard and Newgarden complete the top 10.

Green flew on lap 67 and Rahal and Pagenaud passed Mclaughlin, who fell to P9 from P4 in one lap. Lap 68 opened with Dixon up 1.7s on Herta, 2.3s over Rosenqvist, then Rahal, Ericsson, Palou, Lundgaard, and a falling Pagenaud.

Lap 73 saw Dixon holding 1.9s over Herta and 2.6s over Rosenqvist. It was the same 19s to Herta on lap 79 as the main challenge was left between Herta and Rosenqvist 2.5s.

Entering the last lap, Dixon was 1.9s clear as Rosenqvist got within 0.3s of Herta, but there was no passing to be had as Dixon cruised to the win.

RESULTS

MX-5 CUP | ROUND 9 – ROAD AMERICA

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