Dixon overcomes penalty to win shambolic IndyCar finale

by Jack Benyon
6 min read

A frenetic IndyCar finale at Laguna Seca punctuated by woeful driving standards and eight cautions was won by Scott Dixon after he overcame an early drive-through penalty to take his third win of the season.

A first-corner collision between second and third-place starters Christian Lundgaard and Scott McLaughlin – with Lundgaard loose on the inside kerb and losing control – took both out of early contention.

Fourth-placed Josef Newgarden was harpooned by Juri Vips after Vips and Rahal Letterman Lanigan team-mate Graham Rahal had been sent into each other by Marcus Armstrong, while Rinus VeeKay was spun from sixth by Dixon approaching Turn 3.

That left a topsy-turvy top 10, but on the lap six restart the freshly-crowned champion Alex Palou barged polesitter Felix Rosenqvist wide with a late move at Turn 11 to take the lead – allowing Will Power through too – before Newgarden crashed at Turn 4 and caused caution two.

On the lap 11 restart, Rosenqvist bumped Power back wide to reclaim second and allowed his McLaren team-mate Pato O’Ward past too as Power went wide, but none of that mattered as Palou built an almost nine-second lead.

Palou even survived almost being torpedoed by Helio Castroneves who spun twice in the space of three corners and almost ploughed into the champion.

Rosenqvist was the first to pit in the first stint but clashed with 14th-placed Marcus Ericsson – both drivers in their last race with their respective teams McLaren and Ganassi – bringing a caution out which Palou just managed to pit before and reclaim the lead after the pitstops.

The caution ruined Power and Juncos Hollinger’s Callum Ilott’s runs in second and third as they had to pit and go behind the rest of the drivers who pitted before the caution came out.

Power then locked up and punted Benjamin Pedersen and Ilott was caught up, causing another caution, under which some teams decided to top off with fuel leaving a top 10 with only two drivers who started in the top 13.

Armstrong led Dixon of those drivers that topped off trying to make it to the end on one-stop while the top six led by Palou needed two stops.

Then a caution on lap 57 of 95 for Devlin DeFrancesco hitting David Malukas off the track meant Palou had to pit under the caution and fall behind those that pitted before him, including O’Ward who was in the pit when the caution came out.

But O’Ward had not yet used the soft tyre and would have to pit again later on.

Palou, Canapino and Santino Ferrucci were relegated to 15th, 16th and 17th by their stops, and then on the restart, Ferrucci lost his front wing as he ploughed into Palou, and Tom Blomqvist was also caught up in the Turn 11 mess.

That caution gave Armstrong – jumped by Ganassi team-mate Dixon in the pits – the chance to make their last stop and try to make it to the end. O’Ward led the group staying out, with Canapino now ahead of Palou.

On the restart, Armstrong was spun in a multi-car crash which created another long delay, before it went green again with 23 laps to go.

Romain Grosjean took the lead from O’Ward on the restart while Dixon made four passes in four corners to jump to third before another caution with 21 laps to go – the eighth of the day – for Castroneves taking out Colton Herta.

Grosjean and O’Ward pitted on lap 75 and swapped positions in the stops, coming out in 13th and 14th with Dixon leading McLaughlin, Ilott, Palou and Canapino at the restart, under which Canapino began to fall back with a broken front wing.

McLaughlin had two penalties earlier in the race, one for hitting Ferrucci and then another for pitting before assessing his penalty, which meant two trips to the back of the grid but such was the wild nature of te race, he got back in contention.

While Dixon checked out up front, Ilott pressured McLaughlin initially, but on lap 83 Palou – with two pitstops to Ilott’s six – moved by to take the final spot on the podium.

McLaughlin’s second boosted him from fifth to third in the points standings behind Dixon and Palou, with O’Ward also jumping Newgarden to take fourth in the standings with ninth place.

Ilott – whose race also included a pitlane spin – went off with three laps to go at the exit of Turn 9, handing fourth to Power. Ilott still rounded out the top five.

Armstrong’s eighth sealed the rookie of the year battle as Canapino fell all the way to 14th with his broken wing.

Chevrolet won the manufacturers’ championship while Canapino’s number 78 car and Vips’ number 30 machine jumped into the Leaders’ Circle, the top 22 full-time cars that get a payout of just over $900,000.

DeFrancesco and Blomqvist – who both hit car trouble in the race despite running in the top 10 – dropped out of the Leaders’ Circle.

Race Results

Pos Name Team Car Laps Laps Led Total Time Fastest Lap Pitstops Pts
1 Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 95 20 2h17m41.64s 1m08.943s 4 51
2 Scott McLaughlin Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 95 0 +7.318s 1m09.394s 5 40
3 Alex Palou Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 95 51 +10.611s 1m08.416s 2 38
4 Will Power Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 95 0 +14.666s 1m09.434s 5 32
5 Callum Ilott Juncos Hollinger Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 95 0 +21.128s 1m09.608s 6 30
6 Christian Lundgaard Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 95 0 +21.375s 1m09.065s 6 28
7 Alexander Rossi Arrow McLaren SP Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 95 0 +22.215s 1m09.656s 4 26
8 Marcus Armstrong Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 95 0 +27.131s 1m08.861s 4 24
9 Patricio O'Ward Arrow McLaren SP Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 95 15 +28.39s 1m08.486s 3 23
10 Ryan Hunter-Reay Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 95 0 +32.34s 1m09.742s 3 20
11 Romain Grosjean Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 95 2 +39.02s 1m09.237s 3 20
12 Sting Ray Robb Dale Coyne Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 95 0 +43.987s 1m09.895s 3 18
13 Hélio Castroneves Meyer Shank Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 95 0 +58.317s 1m10.148s 5 17
14 Agustín Canapino Juncos Hollinger Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 95 0 +1m01.184s 1m08.815s 2 16
15 Marcus Ericsson Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 94 0 +1 lap 1m08.476s 5 15
16 Benjamin Pedersen AJ Foyt Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 94 0 +1 lap 1m09.746s 6 14
17 Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 94 0 +1 lap 1m08.926s 6 13
18 Rinus VeeKay Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 93 0 +2 laps 1m09.726s 5 12
19 Felix Rosenqvist Arrow McLaren SP Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 93 6 +2 laps 1m09.083s 5 13
20 David Malukas Dale Coyne Racing/HMD Motorsports Dallara DW12-Honda 93 0 +2 laps 1m09.258s 5 10
21 Josef Newgarden Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 91 0 +4 laps 1m09.995s 10 9
22 Devlin DeFrancesco Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 91 0 +4 laps 1m09.359s 6 8
Colton Herta Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 80 1 DNF 1m09.055s 6 8
24 Jüri Vips Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 71 0 +24 laps 1m09.489s 3 6
25 Kyle Kirkwood Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 65 0 +30 laps 1m08.752s 3 5
Tom Blomqvist Meyer Shank Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 61 0 DNF 1m09.537s 2 5
Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 0 0 DNF 0s 0 5
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