After a troubled qualifying that left him starting from an uncharacteristic 20th on the grid, Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon charged through the field to run as high as fourth on Sunday at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, then held on to finish fifth despite a broken exhaust wastegate in the closing laps, passing Simona de Silvestro in the run from the final corner to the checkers.
Dixon gained 10 positions in the first segment of the season-opening IZOD IndyCar Series event, and broke into the top five on Lap 75 of 110. Five laps later, he passed Marco Andretti for fourth. On Lap 85, Dixon began to feel the effects of the failed wastegate, and fell back behind Andretti and Tony Kanaan. But on the final lap, Dixon caught a slowing de Silvestro to claim fifth in a side-by-side finish.
Takuma Sato started on the outside of the front row, second, and ran just behind early leader Will Power in the opening laps. But his A.J. Foyt Racing Honda Dallara received minor front wing damage that slowed his pace as Sato fell to 13th mid-race. A late-race change to a new nose and front-wing assembly restored the handling, and Sato recovered to finish eighth.
A promising debut from IndyCar rookie Tristan Vautier came to a halt on Lap 69 after he had run as high as fifth, when a broken exhaust ended his race. A similar problem also eliminated his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammate, Simon Pagenaud, earlier in the contest.
Jen French, winner of the Silver Medal in sailing at the London 2012 Paralympic Games and U.S. Sailing’s Yachtswoman of the Year, led the field prior to the race start in the two-seat Honda IndyCar driven by racing legend Mario Andretti. For more information on how you can receive the ride of a lifetime in the Honda Fastest Seat in Sports sweepstakes, go to www.shophonda.com.