INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Scott Dixon had his second Indianapolis 500 victory in sight and a powerful Chevrolet that led him to believe he could park it in victory lane.
He could almost taste the milk.
The speed that put him in front at Indy for more laps than any driver on Sunday failed in the end. Dixon settled for fourth place driving for Chip Ganassi Racing, missing his chance at another Brickyard win to pair with his 2008 title.
Starting from the pole, Dixon led a race-high 84 laps, and still had the lead in the No. 9 with 13 laps left in the race. But Will Power passed Dixon and Juan Pablo Montoya eventually blew past both drivers to win a thrilling battle late in the Indianapolis 500.
“We didn’t have enough speed. We kind of went back and forth on ignition settings,” Dixon said. “The car was overheating a bit and just too much understeer is what it came down to.”
Team owner Roger Penske won his 16th Indianapolis 500 while Dixon and four other drivers failed to win a fifth for Ganassi.
“You’d rather the battle just be between yourself, but I think for the fans it was a fantastic race,” Dixon said. “We definitely put on a pretty good show. It’s the two best teams so that’s how it’s going to roll out.”
Penske also boasted runner-up Will Power. Ganassi driver Charlie Kimball was third.
“I knew we had two up there, but the worry was Dixon and the 83 (Kimball),” Penske said. “At the end of the day, they played fair. Good passing and we won the race.”
Except for the pole, Dixon had a rough month at Indy, where he was hit hard early in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Helio Castroneves was involved in a five-car melee, a crash that knocked Dixon out of contention before he even got through the first turn. Dixon complained then that Castroneves should have been assessed a drive through penalty for avoidable contact. Castroneves finished sixth. Dixon was 10th.
Dixon, out of New Zealand, has won three series championships in 11 years, won at least two races each of the past nine seasons and hasn’t finished lower than third in the points since 2006. And he’s done all that with Ganassi. The 34-year-old Dixon won this season in April at the Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Dixon is fifth on the career open wheel victory list with 36, trailing only Indy legends A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Michael Andretti and Al Unser Sr.
“I have said this for years, he’s a student of the sport, he has great support from his family, and yet he can keep the family separate from his business,” Ganassi said. “He doesn’t have baggage, and he’s the consummate professional on the track, and the consummate professional off the track.”
Dixon did finish with his ninth career top-10 finish at Indy, which also included a pair of second-place finishes in 2007 and 2012.
“It is not the first time we have been in situations like this before and we have been second before a few times,” he said. “Anything less than a win here is pretty horrible, so it is what it is.”
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