Dixon credits Honda with Road America win, after morning scare

Scott Dixon says it was his Honda’s fuel mileage/horsepower combination that gave him the edge over the Penske-Chevrolets at Road America, and came despite a fuel-pump issue that threatened to ruin his day.

Dixon credits Honda with Road America win, after morning scare
Podium: winner Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda takes the win
Podium: race winner Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, second place Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet, third place Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet
Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
Race winner Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
Race winner Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
Podium: race winner Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, second place Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet, third place Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet

The four-time champion, who earned his 41st victory and moved to within one win of joining Michael Andretti in third place on the all-time Indy car winners’ list, admitted that he hadn’t expected to be able to beat the Penske-Chevrolet quartet. However, he believes the Penske cars were struggling to make fuel mileage, which helped ameliorate the basic issue that Honda’s aerokit creates more drag.

“I didn't really think we would be in this situation,” said Dixon, “but huge credit to Honda. The engine's very strong. They don't really have to turn it down for the race. To get the fuel mileage, as well, is always very difficult when you're making so much power.

“[The Penske-Chevys] were able to turn up to similar performance, I think, when they need to earlier in the race [but] we don't have to de-tune as much as they do. At the start of the race, I was kind of shocked how fast we were. Had a pretty big run on Will [Power] a couple of times, then Helio [Castroneves]. Honda have done a fantastic job to maintain that performance.

“[The Penske drivers] were, I think, having to save fuel pretty hard to get the mileage number with their engine. So I think that definitely helped us on that side of things. They couldn't run flat out like we could in some of the scenarios.”
Dixon said that the grunt of the Honda was also crucial in sealing his pass on race runner-up Newgarden following a restart, where push-to-pass boost is not allowed.

He said: “I think what contributed to that was the torque of the engine. Obviously in these lower gears out of the last corner that enabled us to get close to Josef, get in the draft, get beside him.

“We kind of petered out towards the end. You can't use overtake on the restarts, so we weren't able to clear the 2 car. But I knew it was going to get interesting. I knew out of most of the guys that you can race with, he's a guy that you can race with cleanly. It was one of those situations where we both gave each other room.”

Uncertainty before the start

Dixon explained that because of a fuel pump issue and his consequent inability to take part in the warm-up, he and race engineer Chris Simmons had been unable to verify optimal downforce settings.

“We had some issues last night with a couple of pieces in the fuel cell and we tried to repair those,” he explained. “Then it was for a different reason, but this morning we just couldn't get fuel pressure. The difficult part was that you can't replicate it inside the pits. It was third, fourth or fifth gear, where it was causing the starvation.

“We were trying to run the car at high rpm while dragging the brakes in the pits before the race to try to rectify the issue. It wasn't until the warmup lap we could really figure out they fixed the issue.”

Asked if Simmons had been forced to guess at setup to some extent, Dixon replied: “I don't think he took too much of a swing [although] he did his typical thing where he likes to trim the car out, and doesn't really tell me too much about it. That makes it pretty interesting for the first few laps!

“But he's been in the industry long enough, won a ton of races, especially with Dario [Franchitti] throughout those years. I have a huge amount of confidence in him and what he gives me.

“I think the hardest thing for us, we didn't know what the mixtures we were going to do. We didn't have the warmup to understand what trim level we needed to be. There was a little bit of… you know, not guesswork, but taking a bit of a leap of faith on some of the changes he did make for the race. They're always pretty educated. He made the right ones.”

shares
comments
Road America IndyCar: Top 10 quotes after race

Previous article

Road America IndyCar: Top 10 quotes after race

Next article

Rossi not taking responsibility for Kanaan shunt at Road America

Rossi not taking responsibility for Kanaan shunt at Road America
Load comments
The lasting legacy of a fallen Indy car rookie Prime

The lasting legacy of a fallen Indy car rookie

Jeff Krosnoff was plucked out of obscurity to become a respected and highly popular professional in Japan, and then got his big break in CART Indy car for 1996. But a tragic accident at Toronto 25 years ago cut short a promising career and curtailed his regular teammate Mauro Martini's passion for racing.

IndyCar
Jul 14, 2021
The winners and losers in IndyCar 2021 – Mid-season review Prime

The winners and losers in IndyCar 2021 – Mid-season review

At the halfway point in the 2021 NTT IndyCar Series season, we've had seven winners in eight races, spread between five teams – none of them Team Penske. In this unusual season, even by IndyCar standards, who’s excelling and who’s dragging their heels? David Malsher-Lopez reports.

IndyCar
Jun 18, 2021
The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness Prime

The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness

Long-awaited wins for ex-Formula 1 drivers Marcus Ericsson and Kevin Magnussen in IndyCar and IMSA last weekend gave F1 a reminder of what it is missing. But with the new rules aimed at levelling the playing field, there’s renewed optimism that more drivers can have a rewarding result when their day of days comes

Formula 1
Jun 17, 2021
Castroneves: How I kept it under control to make Indy 500 history Prime

Castroneves: How I kept it under control to make Indy 500 history

Helio Castroneves’ overwhelming vivaciousness outside the cockpit belies a hardcore racer who knows how to plot his moves – and then recall it all for us. A day after his fourth Indy 500 win, Helio explained his tactics to David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Jun 2, 2021
How 'chess master' Castroneves cemented his Indy legend status Prime

How 'chess master' Castroneves cemented his Indy legend status

Helio Castroneves joined AJ Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears with the most Indianapolis 500 wins after sweeping around the outside of Alex Palou on the penultimate lap in a thrilling climax. In one race, he validated Michael Shank's and Jim Meyer's faith in him, and Helio himself discovered there's life after Penske after all.

IndyCar
Jun 1, 2021
Indy 500 preview: Will experience or youth be victorious? Prime

Indy 500 preview: Will experience or youth be victorious?

A quarter of the drivers racing in the 105th edition of the Indianapolis 500 are former winners - but are they the favourites? The veteran drivers largely impressed in qualifying - but there's also a plethora of young guns looking to secure victory at IndyCar's flagship race...

IndyCar
May 25, 2021
What will it take to get American drivers in Formula 1? Prime

What will it take to get American drivers in Formula 1?

The FIA says it wants American drivers in Formula 1, but would it take an IndyCar driver to transfer or does an American need to join the European junior ladder system to get there? By David Malsher-Lopez.

Formula 1
May 19, 2021
Why IndyCar is satisfying Grosjean’s appetite for his second life Prime

Why IndyCar is satisfying Grosjean’s appetite for his second life

After spending the majority of his 179-race Formula 1 career in middling to tail-end machinery, Romain Grosjean finds himself once again with an underdog team in IndyCar. While not without its challenges, he's relishing the more level playing field that means his Dale Coyne Racing crew can expect to claim a few scalps...

IndyCar
May 14, 2021