Scott Dixon started last in Sunday's Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course after spinning in qualifying on Saturday but after playing a fuel strategy to perfection when the opportunity presented itself, Dixon walked away with his fifth career win at Mid-Ohio. It was the first win of the 2014 season for Dixon, the defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion, and also was the first win of the 2014 season for the usual powerful Target Chip Ganassi Racing.
When a caution flew on lap 37 of 90 Dixon stayed out and took the lead of the race when everyone else hit pit road for a stop. From there he only pitted once more just like everyone else and made his fuel last to just past the checkered flag where he ran out.
"Yes we got a little lucky with that caution," Dixon said in victory lane. "The fuel number was extremely close but we still had the speed."
The win is the 34th of Dixon's career which ties him for sixth all-time with Al Unser Jr.
On the pace laps championship points leader Helio Castroneves encountered a problem on his Team Penske car when his throttle stuck. He brought the car to pit road and would lose four laps before the team fixed the issue and sent him back to the track. He would end up finishing in 19th.
The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio got underway with Sebastien Bourdais on the pole and Josef Newgarden in second. However, Tony Kanaan tried to get underneath Newgarden for second and the two made contact. Kanaan spun and then back in the pack Takuma Sato and Marco Andretti made contact into Kanaan's sitting car. Kanaan and Andretti's races were over on lap 1 and they finished 21st and 22nd.
The race would restart on lap 5. By lap 15 Bourdais led over Newgarden, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Graham Rahal, and Carlos Huertas in the top five. Newgarden pitted on lap 21. On lap 24 Sebastian Saavedra retired from the race with a oil pressure issue and finished 20th.
Bourdais pitted from the lead on lap 26 which put Hunter-Reay out front. Hunter-Reay then pitted on lap 27 and exited ahead of Bourdais but on cold tires could not hold Bourdais back as he regained the lead on lap 28. Hunter-Reay was then called into make a pass thru penalty for speeding on his pit stop and that dropped him to ninth.
On lap 37 Ryan Hunter-Reay spun to bring out the second caution. Scott Dixon thrust himself in to contention after his team decided to keep him on track after he had been to pit road as recently as lap 31. With everyone else pitting Dixon led the field to the lap 43 restart with Bourdais second, Newgarden third, Carlos Munoz fourth, and Rahal fifth.
Newgarden passed Bourdais for second on lap 46 and closed the gap on Dixon quickly but then could not get past for the lead.
On lap 62 Dixon pitted from the lead after making an impressive fuel run. Newgarden looked to be in position to take control and win his first career race, however, that fell apart on lap 65 when he pitted. He ran over the air gun hose which caused the right-rear tire changer to fall down and created a very long stop. He blended back on the track behind not only Dixon but also Bourdais and Munoz. Then things got worse as he was hit with a penalty for running over equipment which dropped him to 13th in the running order.
On lap 67 James Hinchcliffe pitted from the lead which cycled Dixon back out front. From there Dixon pulled away to a margin of nine seconds over Bourdais in second and then ran a very conservative final lap as his team knew his fuel was going to be close. Dixon took the checkered flag to win by just over five seconds and then ran out of fuel and stopped down at the exit of Turn 1 to celebrate.
Sebastien Bourdais finished second, James Hinchcliffe third, Carlos Munoz fourth, Graham Rahal fifth, Will Power sixth, Charlie Kimball seventh, Ryan Briscoe eighth, Simon Pagenaud ninth, and Ryan Hunter-Reay tenth. Juan Pablo Montoya was 11th, Josef Newgarden 12th, Mike Conway 13th, Mikhail Aleshin 14th, Justin Wilson 15th, Jack Hawksworth 16th, and Carlos Huertas was the last lead lap car in 17th. Takuma Sato was one lap down in 18th.
The Verizon IndyCar Series have next weekend off before heading to the ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 at the Milwaukee Indyfest on August 17th.
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Tags: Carlos Munoz, Graham Rahal, Helio Castroneves, Honda Indy 200, James Hinchcliffe, Josef Newgarden, Mid-Ohio, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Motorsports, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Scott Dixon, Sebastien Bourdais, Simon Pagenaud, Verizon IndyCar Series, Will Power