Dixon Begins Title Defense with Second-Place Finish for Honda at St. Petersburg
• Scott Dixon leads the Honda-powered field at NTT IndyCar Series season opener
• Rookie teammate Felix Rosenqvist impresses, leads 31 laps, finishes fourth
• Alexander Rossi, James Hinchcliffe round out top-six finishers for Honda
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (March 10, 2019) – Scott Dixon opened his NTT IndyCar Series title defense with a second-place finish in his Chip Ganassi Racing Honda at Sunday’s 2019 season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Starting fourth, Dixon battled with eventual race winner Josef Newgarden virtually from the start of the 110-lap contest. Originally a duel for third on the track, it became a battle for the lead after the second round of pit stops, as Dixon and Newgarden leap-frogged their respective teammates: Fellix Rosenqvist and Will Power.
After the final round of pit stops, Dixon trailed Newgarden by more than nine seconds, but then closed the gap to the leader significantly, pulling to within two seconds of Newgarden with fewer than 10 laps remaining. However, it was not enough and Dixon took the checkers in second, for his fourth podium finish in 15 starts on the St. Petersburg temporary street circuit.
Rookie Felix Rosenqvist, was a star of the race as he led 31 laps en route to a fourth-place result in his IndyCar Series debut. Alexander Rossi and James Hinchcliffe finished fifth and sixth, respectively, as Honda drivers claimed seven of the top 10 finishing positions.
In addition to Rosenqvist, another pair of Honda-powered rookies featured in today’s 110-lap contest. Driving for Harding Steinbrenner Racing, Colton Herta finished eighth, while Santino Ferrucci ran ninth in his Dale Coyne Racing Honda. In addition, series sophomore Jack Harvey brought his Meyer Shank Racing Honda home 10th, just two seconds behind Ferrucci.
The NTT IndyCar Series now heads west to the Circuit of the Americas, just outside Austin, Texas, for the March 24 inaugural INDYCAR Classic. The second round of the 17-race championship will be televised live on the NBC Sports Network starting at 1 p.m. EDT.
Social media content and video links from this weekend’s Honda IndyCar Series action in St. Petersburg are available on HPD’s Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/HondaRacingHPD) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/HondaRacing_HPD) channels. Produced by the Carolinas Production Group, YouTube video packages can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/HondaRacingHPDTV.
Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing) Defending series champion, started fourth, finished second: “It was a tough race. We never really had any downtime. It was pretty much flat-out from start to finish, just one caution, I think. It was pretty physical with no fluids [due to failure of his drink bottle system], but the PNC Bank Honda was fast for the first 10-15 laps [of each stint], and we could really pressure Newgarden. But as soon as we got to the last 10 laps [of a run], we fell off a bit, so we’ve definitely got to work on that.”
Felix Rosenqvist (Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) started third, finished fourth in first NTT IndyCar Series race: “I think there was a bit more in it. Some of the pit stops didn’t really go as planned. It was a package to win the race. Just some small things didn’t really go our way, but I’m really happy.”
Alexander Rossi (Andrettti Autosport Honda) Started eighth, finished fifth: “It was really all we had, right from the start of the race. It’s good for [championship] points but it’s disappointing. You always come to races wanting to win. I just think we were one step behind our competition. We found the optimal setup, or at least a car that I was comfortable with, but we need to be a little more on top of it.”
Art St. Cyr (President, Honda Performance Development) on today’s season-opening race: “Today, we saw the usual excellent performance from Scott Dixon, and three rookie Honda drivers finished in the top 10, — a promising start for the next generation of Honda Indy car racers. Most weekends, taking seven of the top ten finishing positions would be cause for celebration. However, not winning the opening race of the season demonstrates that we still have some work to do. As always, we’re up for the challenge. Congratulations to Felix, Colton and Santino on their excellent debuts, and also to Jack Harvey for his solid performance throughout the weekend, and his first top-10 finish.”