Fourth place charge keeps Dixon in title hunt

NEWTON, IOWA – Scott Dixon fought to a fifth-place finish in Saturday’s HyVee Deals 250 at Iowa Speedway.

The Kiwi began the 250-lap contest in 13th but quickly dropped to 16th in the opening stint. His descent was saved by yellow on Lap 17 for a spin by his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Jimmie Johnson.

Dixon ducked into the pits for fresh rubber along with a chunk of drivers mired back in the pack.

He noted that a pitstop was inevitable to stop the descent with tire degradation being key.

“We had lost some positions on the start,” said the six-time NTT IndyCar Series champion.” I kept getting trapped on the bottom and it was just messy.”

The decision paid off as Dixon motored into the top ten on Lap 54 and was knocking on the door of a Top 5 as the race crested the Lap 100 mark.  He held steady in the top ten until slipping to 10th on the restart on Lap 132.

He remained in that spot throughout the stint until a yellow on Lap 164 brought the on pit lane for the final time. Dixon’s Chip Ganassi Racing executed a quick stop which elevated Dixon to seventh for the final stint.

The final 77-lap stint began strong as he set his personal best lap of the day on Lap 178 before losing seventh to Romain Grosjean on Lap 195. He trailed Grosjean throughout the stint as the pair gained a position when they passed Jimmie Johnson on Lap 235.

Dixon snatched the sixth spot on Lap 242 and did one better as he overhauled teammate Alex Palou for fifth with two laps to go.

He acknowledged that his long-run pace favored him on the final stint and should commend him during today’s 300-lap race.

“We didn’t have the pace of the 2 (Newgarden) or the 5 (O’Ward) or even a couple of the others there,” Dixon told Championship Racing News. “We were probably the next best. Over the last 20 laps of the stint, we would really start to pass people.

“We got Grosjean, then we got Jimmie, then we got Palou on the last few laps because their long run pace wasn’t as good. That’s positive for tomorrow being 50 laps longer. Hopefully, that works into our favor.”

The finish also kept Dixon in the championship hunt as he lies 38 points behind teammate Marcus Ericsson heading into today’s race – just behind teammate Palou and the Penske pair of Josef Newgarden and Will Power.

That has Dixon on notice as the championship battle enters the final rounds, which historically have favored the Penske entries.

“The frustrating part is that this is a Penske dominated circuit with two races here,” he said. “Then we go to Indy which they are really strong at too. This is a really good stretch for them. We just have to keep our head down. We have to get the best that we can out of it.”

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