TORONTO – With chaos playing out behind him, the Iceman kept it cool from the lead for his first win in 23 starts, putting a record-tying seventh IndyCar championship back well within reach for Scott Dixon.
The driver of the No. 9 Honda, who jumped two spots to within 44 points of Chip Ganassi Racing teammate in the IndyCar title chase, held off Sunday’s polesitter Colton Herta late during the Honda Indy Toronto, picking up his fourth win on the streets of Toronto, his first of 2022 and his first since Race 1 at Texas Motor Speedway back in early-May 2021.
Here’s how he did it:
The Iceman Cometh
After qualifying for second place on Saturday, Dixon patiently waited behind Herta during the first stint of the race that included a brief yellow for a damaged Takuma Sato who didn’t make it through Lap 1, Turn 1 clean. On Lap 17, Dixon, Josef Newgarden (who started third) and Alexander Rossi (fourth) all pitted, leaving Herta out front and risking a yellow that could catch him out.
Herta opted to pit the following lap and fend that risk off. Unfortunately for him, Scott McLaughlin, with a pit box right in front of him and who was running close after starting sixth, did so the same lap. On such a tight pit lane, Herta was slowed a bit than he might have otherwise been on pit exit to maneuver cleanly around the No. 3 Chevy, and before he reached Turn 1, Dixon was by him for the effective lead on the traditional strategy.
From 'ridiculous' to chaos
By Lap 35, Dixon and Herta, running 2.5 seconds behind the leader, had more than 10 seconds behind them to third place, with Jimmie Johnson trying to extend an extremely long first stint. On the radio, Newgarden’s said “ridiculous” when told he had 15 seconds to the front duo.
But right around the halfway point, that advantage for Dixon and Herta would all but disappear with the sequence of three cautions in less than 15 laps. First, Felix Rosenqvist dove on the inside of future McLaren Racing family at-large teammate Alexander Rossi for fourth on Lap 45. Rossi continued to run alongside him through corner exit, and they hit tires again, appearing to knock the wheel out of Rossi’s hand – leaving no chance for the Andretti driver to keep his No. 27 Honda out of the wall.
It was the second time in as many races that Rossi lost grip on the steering wheel with wheel-to-wheel contact on-track. This time, though, he was on the outside.
“It’s just one of those things,” Rossi said after getting checked at the track care center. “It’s a shame because we had the car for up-front.”
Asked what he could do to keep from losing grip on the wheel?
“I’m open to suggestions,” he said.
On Lap 45, 20 of the 25 cars in the field dove into the pits, putting the bulk of the field all on the same pit sequence through for the second half of the race, but shortly after the race went back green on Lap 49, race control threw the yellow again on Lap 56 for concrete coming up in Turn 1. Minimal repairs took just a couple laps as it was believed no more damage would come through the rest of the race.
As the race went green on Lap 59, Kyle Kirkwood took a shot on a pass on Johnson in Turn 9 and the driver of the No. 48 didn’t appear to know the Foyt car was there. Both came into each other and got turned around.
Tying Super Mario
With the win, Dixon finally grabbed his 52nd career IndyCar win, bringing him to a tie for second most all-time with Mario Andretti. He still sits 15 wins back of the all-time leader A.J. Foyt, though Dixon said ahead of Mid-Ohio he doesn’t plan to be doing anything different, career-wise, in the next five years.
The victory extended Dixon’s records of 18 consecutive seasons with at least one victory and 20 total seasons with at least one win.
Sunday's big movers
Behind Dixon and Herta, Felix Rosenqvist picked up his first podium with Arrow McLaren SP, climbing up from eighth to take third. Graham Rahal climbed from 14th to take fourth, followed by points-leader Marcus Ericsson (fifth), Alex Palou (sixth), Simon Pagenaud (seventh), Christian Lundgaard (eighth), McLaughlin (ninth) and Newgarden (10th).
With the race’s results, Ericsson leads Will Power (who finished 15th Sunday) by 35 points in the title chase. Palou, despite his tumultuous week, jumped up to third (37 points back), followed by Dixon in fourth, Newgarden tied for fourth with Dixon and Pato O’Ward in sixth (75 points back).
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Scott Dixon takes Toronto, ties Mario Andretti in IndyCar wins