Dixon started eighth and fell a lap off the pace early as crews and teams struggled to adjust their cars for a race run totally at night on a green race track after severe weather, including heavy rain and lightning, delayed the start of the race four-and-a-half hours. The green flag finally waved at 11:45 p.m. ET.
Dixon’s recovery was a result of smart pit strategy initiated by Race Strategist Mike Hull, Race Engineer Chris Simmons and the “Wolfpack” crew.
The team brought the “Iceman” to pit road for new tires on lap 268 when Ed Carpenter spun and smacked the wall on lap 264, bringing out the yellow flag. Several front-running cars opted for track position and stayed out during the caution period.
“Huge credit to the team,” said Dixon. “They left me out pretty long before the last caution. It enabled us to stay on that lead lap, get that lucky yellow, get new tires.”
Dixon restarted the race in the sixth position and was up to fifth after one lap and up to fourth after two laps. Dixon passed pole-sitter Simon Pagenaud with 19-laps to go to move into third place and dusted James Hinchcliffe with 16-laps to go to move into second place, where he set his sights on leader Josef Newgarden.
“We had a good restart, were able to pass some cars,” said Dixon.
Dixon ran out of laps to catch Newgarden and settled for his 45thcareer second-place finish. The five-time IndyCar Series Champion has now finished first or second in 90 of his 316-career starts (28.4 percent).
“Honestly, to be second, I thought we would be 22nd,” said Dixon. “Tonight, we just burnt up the tires quickly and both myself and the No. 10 car (rookie Felix Rosenqvist, who finished 14th) really struggled. I can’t thank everyone enough on the PNC Bank team. The strategy was great. We didn’t quite get the win, but oh my gosh, that’s crazy, but I’ll take it.”
Dixon actually lost ground in the championship fight to Newgarden, who he trails by 98-points, but gained ground on Alexander Rossi and Pagenaud who are in front of him in second and third place respectively.
Next up for the NTT IndyCar Series is the Honda Indy 200 next Sunday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Complex, the closest track to Pittsburgh where the series competes. Tickets are available at midohio.com.