LEXINGTON, OHIO (Pittsburgh Sports Now) – PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon held off his hard-charging teammate Felix Rosenqvist to win Sunday’s NTT IndyCar Series Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Complex.
The epic battle was one for the ages as Dixon was on older tires and Rosenqvist, a rookie, was going for his first win. The pair made contact and raced each other hard but clean and Dixon and the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda crossed the finish line 0.0934-seconds ahead of Rosenqvist and the No. 10 Clover Honda.
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“Oh man that was crazy,” said Dixon. “With about 15-laps to go, I started moaning to the team. I’m like, ‘man I think we’re going to have to pit again’. I was just a sitting duck, and if I wasn’t his teammate I think he would’ve knocked me off.”
“I really want to credit Chip for letting us race,” said Rosenqvist. “The last lap. I think everyone really enjoyed that. We were enjoying it. We were banging wheels in turn 2 there, (it) was a little bit exciting. Scott is always going to fight you hard, but fair and I think I did the same, and maybe one more lap we could have got him.”
The margin of victory, 0.0934-seconds, was the closest IndyCar finish at Mid-Ohio and the third closest on a road course in IndyCar history.
The history-making finish was a reminder that the 12-time IndyCar Championship team can never be counted out.
Rosenqvist started sixth and Dixon eighth and both cars began the race on the primary Firestone tires and all of the cars in front of the pair started on the alternate Firestone tires, which are faster but do not last as long.
Rosenqvist started sixth and worked his way up to third by lap 15. The rookie passed Andretti Autosports Alexander Rossi for second place on lap 19.
Dixon, was right behind moving in third on lap 20 and into second place when Rosenqvist came to pit road for his service on lap 29.
Will Power, who started on the pole and led the first 30-laps, came into the pits on lap 30 and Dixon came in right behind him.
Power’s teammates Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud, who made their first stops earlier, inherited the lead and second place and stayed there until the next round of green-flag pit stops on lap 40.
Disaster struck for Newgarden on the pit stop when fuel flow issues extended the stop to 13.9-seconds and Rosenqvist moved back into the lead at that point.
The Ganassi team chose a split-strategy for the two cars as Dixon was on a two-stop strategy and Rosenqvist was on a three-stop.
Rosenqvist pitted from the lead for the last time on lap 66 and his No. 10 NTT Data crew nailed it, changing 4-tires and adding fuel in just 6.9-seconds to get him out in second place.
Dixon led Rosenqvist by 9.7 seconds with 20-laps to go but as Dixon’s tires started going away his rookie teammate kept charging and cut the lead to 2-seconds with five laps to go and 0.3-seconds with the white flag waving, setting up that final lap battle.
“That’s what IndyCar racing is – it produces the best racing in the world,” said Dixon.
The victory was the 46th career victory for Dixon and Chip Ganassi Racing’s 11th at Mid-Ohio. The win was the team’s 108th in the series, breaking a tie with Newman-Haas Racing for second-most wins in history, trailing only Team Penske’s 210-wins.
Dixon’s 46th win leaves him within six of Mario Andretti (52) for second place on IndyCar’s all-time wins list. A.J. Foyt ranks first with 67.
The victory also helped the Five-time Champion driver chisel some points off Newgarden’s points lead. Dixon sits 62-points back with four races to go and double-points available at the season finale at Laguna Seca.
The second place finish for Rosenqvist was his first podium finish with the team and also helped him pad his lead in the “Rookie of the Year” standings.
The NTT IndyCar Series visits the Keystone State next with The ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway on August 18th. Tickets are available on the track’s website at www.poconoraceway.com.