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INDYCAR: GMR Grand Prix at IMS road course: Dixon Prevails for a second time this year

INDYCAR: GMR Grand Prix at IMS road course: Dixon Prevails for a second time this year

Indianapolis, IN, July 4/20 (GRW): Despite starting in seventh place, Scott Dixon led the final 19 laps of the 80-lap race to win by a 20-second margin over Graham Rahal. Simon Pagenaud, who won the road course race here last year started way back in 20th place but, by the finish, he had worked his way up to third – a podium finish. Colon Herta finished fourth and the Dutch rookie Rinus Vee-Kay was a surprise fifth-place finisher.

PHOTO INDYCAR PODIUMPodium finishers Rahal (2nd), Dixon (1st) and Pagenaud (3rd) (photo: Chris Owens/PHOTO-2020)

This year three races are planed for the Indianapolis venue: this road course race, the Indy 500 next month and another road course race in October. This July IMS race was the second IndyCar race to be run under the COVID-19 rules. Unlike the ‘pandemic’ NASCAR races prior to this weekend, this IndyCar event included both practice and qualifying sessions.

The Penske driver Will Power had won the pole alongside Jack Harvey. Colton Herta and Graham Rahal, who were to finish well were third and fourth quickest, making up the second row on the grid.

Power led the first 12 laps of the race and after an early round of pit stops, he regained the lead on lap 27. It looked like some drivers were on a two-stop race strategy while others were planning to make three stops. Given that the drivers had different pit stop plans, the race order got jumbled up and it was tricky to keep track of who had the long-term advantage.

When the race’s only caution flew on lap 36, pole sitter Power led Josef Newgarden by four seconds. But Power, Newgarden and other leaders had only made one pit stop, while Dixon made his second pit stop on Lap 33, two laps before the caution.

So, when Power, Newgarden and Jack Harvey dove into the pits for their second stops under caution, that elevated Dixon in the running order. Rahal led on the restart, with Spencer Pigot and Dixon second and third, respectively.

Dixon got around Pigot and then passed Rahal in Turn 1 for the lead on Lap 48. Rahal and Dixon both pitted about lap 54 – and so did Power who still looked to have a shot at winning the race. Unfortunately, he stalled the car when he pulled out of his pit stall and he lost time before he could rejoin the race. After this, Power was never a factor again, finishing in 20th place, the last car on the lead lap.

After this, Dixon lost the top spot only when making his third and final pit stop on Lap 55 but he took the lead for good on Lap 62 after the leaders cycled through their final stops and as the race played out, Dixon opened up his lead over the remaining laps.

Given that he had won the previous race at Texas, he now had two wins in the first two races of the season, giving him a nice boost towards winning yet another IndyCar championship. His result here was his 48th career Indy car victory for Dixon, who is now just four wins behind Mario Andretti for No. 2 on the all-time series list.

“So good to be racing here again at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” Dixon said. “We’ve had so many runner-up spots here on the road course. We got lucky. The strategy, the team just nailed it. We got lucky with that caution. But as soon as we got the balance right, the PNC Bank No. 9 just checked out.”

[With notes from INDYCAR]

• Click HERE for the results of the GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis

• The next IndyCar race will be the first of a pair of races next weekend at Road America, the first race of the doubleheader will be run on Saturday, July 11 and the second on Sunday, July 12.

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