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How Scott Dixon Stole the show in chaotic Detroit GP

The Chevrolet Grand Prix of Detroit was an absolute mess. Let’s break down the chaos and see how Scott Dixon pulled out another impressive win and took the championship lead.

Carnage begins immediately

It didn’t even take one corner for the carnage to begin in Detroit. Going into turn 1, Will Power tangled with Theo Pourchaire and spun around, creating a huge traffic jam involving nearly eight cars.

Drivers caught in this mess include Alexander Rossi, Pato O’Ward, Linus Lundqvist, both DCR machines, and Santino Ferrucci.

Herta controls the early stages

After getting his 12th NTT P1 award yesterday, Colton Herta was looking to conquer the streets of Detroit and return to victory lane. Through the several cautions in this period, he controlled the pace and was looking to run long on the primary tires.

He held off Palou and continued to build a healthy gap. It looked like the dominating Herta performance we’ve seen in the past, but things went very wrong after the rain fell.

Rain creates strategy chaos

For the first time in a long while, the heavens opened up on an IndyCar race. The streets of Detroit became an ice rink and threw a grenade into the strategy battle.

The resulting chaos was half the grid going to wet tires and others staying on dry tires. For race leader Colton Herta, this spelled disaster. A poor strategy call from his Andretti pit wall saw the California miss the proper window to get on the wet tires. Once they had no choice but to pit because of the poor grip, the Californian fell down the order.

The frustration from this led to Herta making a critical error. While battling Palou in sector 2, he made a reckless move on the defending champ and locked his brakes. His out-of-control Gainbridge Honda went into the runoff area, nearly collecting Tristan Vautier with it. By the time the AMR Safety Team got his car out of the runoff area, he was a lap down.

Meanwhile, fellow Andretti man Kyle Kirkwood, Scott Dixon, Marcus Ericsson, and Christian Lundgaard stayed out.  Alternatively, Alexander Rossi and his No. 7 Arrow McLaren made a bold call and went back to the dry tires earlier than everyone else which got him back into the mix.

After the pitstop frenzy, Kirkwood took the lead with Dixon, Ericsson, and Rossi behind.

Disaster day for Penske

After getting their 20th Indianapolis 500 last week, Penske’s fortunes did a hard 180 in Detroit. All three of their drivers were involved in or caused a caution at some point during this race.

Starting with 2024 Indy 500 winner Josef Newgarden, his day in the motor city was not fun. In the first half of the race, he was in the mix but things went from bad to worse in the second half.

During a pitstop, he ran over one of his crew’s wheel guns which unsettled his car and subsequently sent him in the path of an RLL mechanic. Newgarden managed to avoid hitting the mechanic completely but did graze his leg. He not only received a drive-through penalty for this incident but later crashed into the wall and bent a tow link on his car. To add salt to the wound, he also brought out a caution for tagging the back of Kirkwood in turn 1, spinning, and trapping Alex Palou as a result.

Elsewhere, Indy 500 pole sitter Scott McLaughlin also had a bad day. In the early stages, he was right in the mix with Colton Herta. He would later fall a lap down and cause two cautions. The first was for hitting the wall and later in the race for sending Sting Ray Robb into the barriers.

Ironically Will Power, who arguably had the messiest race of the three, ended up being the highest-finishing Penske. The two-time series champ was involved in at least three incidents. Despite being penalized for those, he managed to bring his Verizon Chevy home in 6th place, keeping his championship hopes alive.

Dixon does it again

Scott Dixon and Chip Ganassi pulled off another strategy masterclass in Detroit today, just as they did in Long Beach. On lap 60, Dixon pitted while Kirkwood and Palou stayed out. It was a long shot to go another 40 laps without fuel, but this is Scott Dixon. With his fuel-saving sorcery, he pulled it off, but not without an obstacle. That obstacle was Herta.

While Kyle Kirkwood and Marcus Ericsson battled with his teammate Marcus Armstrong, Dixon found himself in a curious position with a lapped Colton Herta. After the restart on lap 70, Herta, who was behind Dixon, passed the Ganassi man to get back on the lead lap.

This frustrated Dixon as Herta was effectively backing him up into a charging Marcus Ericsson. Eventually, the six-time series champion had enough and passed the Andretti into turn one, giving him a vital safety net just in time to bring it home.

Championship tides changed

With Alex Palou getting caught up in the incident with Newgarden combined with his victory today, Scott Dixon is now leading the championship by 18 points.  This demolition derby of a Detroit GP blew the championship wide open. Scott Dixon, being himself, took advantage of the chaos to perfection.

He not only secured his 58th IndyCar win but is now one step closer to a seventh championship.

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