Dixon, Wickens Produce Podium Results for Honda at INDYCAR Grand Prix
• Scott Dixon sets fast race lap, vaults into championship contention with second-place run
• Robert Wickens continues impressive rookie season, finishes third
• Road-course event kicks off “Month of May” at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 12, 2018) – Scott Dixon rebounded from a disappointing qualifying effort on Friday to chase down eventual winner Will Power and finish a strong second today at the INDYCAR Grand Prix, held on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. Honda-powered rookie Robert Wickens continued his impressive first season as an Indy car driver, leading 20 laps and finishing third.
Starting 18th after losing grip in the heat of Friday’s qualifying runs, Dixon gained four positions on the opening lap alone, and worked his way into sixth place during the first 30 laps of the 85-lap contest. Another strong run during the mid-portion of the race saw him climb to fourth, and a quick final pit stop from his Chip Ganassi Racing team resulted in Dixon exiting pit lane in third, then passing Wickens for second. Although he was unable to pass eventual winner Power in the final laps, the second-place result vaults Dixon unofficially into fourth in the driver’s championship standings after five of 17 races.
For Wickens, a move to an alternate tire strategy – running the softer “red” Firestone tires when his primary rival Power was on the harder “black” tires, and vice-versa – appeared at first to be a winning move. Wickens built up a nearly four-second lead mid-race while on the “reds”, but was unable to maintain that advantage later on the slower black-sidewall tires, and also struggled to stretch his fuel mileage during a long final run, falling behind first Power and then Dixon to finish third.
Another potential Honda race winner today, Sebastien Bourdais, ran in the top three through the first 55 laps, but was unable to match the pace of the leaders in the closing laps, falling to fourth at the checkers. Finishing fifth was Long Beach victor Alexander Rossi, who moved within two points of the drivers’ championship lead as a result. Despite an 11th-place finish today, Josef Newgarden remains at the top of the championship table with 178 points, followed by Rossi with 176, Bourdais at 152 and Dixon, fourth with 147 points.
Video recaps from this weekend’s Honda IndyCar Series action on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway are available on the “Honda Racing/HPD” YouTube channel. Produced by the Carolinas Production Group, the video packages can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/HondaRacingHPDTV.
With the completion of today’s INDYCAR Grand Prix, the focus of drivers and teams now turns to the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500. Activities on the famed 2.5-mile oval begin Tuesday with the first of four full days of practice for the May 27th event, and qualifying starting on Saturday, May 19.
Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) started 18th, finished 2nd: “It was a great result today for the PNC Bank car and the whole team. Everyone on the Ganassi team never quits, never gives up, and we were able to make up a lot of spots and finish second. I think that [18th] was the worst I’ve ever qualified without crashing or having a technical issue. Good day in the [championship] points for the team, too. I love having this race open up the month for us here at Indy.”
Robert Wickens (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda) started 2nd, finished 3rd: “I have to work on my ‘fuel save’ game a little bit. Hats off to the Lucas Oil guys – we had a great first stint, and then Will [Power] and I had a great little battle when I was on the [Firestone primary] blacks, he was on the [Firestone alternate] reds. I guess I’m not as efficient at fuel saving as they are, but we made it. I had some pressure from behind… I was basically saving fuel and then Scott [Dixon] got me on push-to-pass [overtake assist]. In the end, I’m really happy to be on the podium. It’s frustrating because I would have liked to be a bit further up, but hard to complain.”
Art St. Cyr (President, Honda Performance Development) on today’s Honda INDYCAR Grand Prix: “This was an interesting way to start the ‘Month of May’, with so many different strategies in play regarding both tires and fuel. Even though we did not win today, taking seven of the top 10 positions once again demonstrates the strength of our driver/team line up. Scott [Dixon] and Robbie [Wickens] took different routes to earn their podium finishes, and both challenged for the win, along with Sebastien [Bourdais]. I would be remiss not to mention another outstanding back-to-front run from Graham Rahal, to keep him in the championship hunt as well. This gives us good momentum going into the ‘500’.”