Dixon wins fifth Mid-Ohio IndyCar race in eight years

  • Article by: RUSTY MILLER ASSOCIATED PRESS
  • Updated: August 3, 2014 - 9:11 PM

The Chip Ganassi driver coasted in on low fuel to end his team’s victory drought.

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Car owner Chip Ganassi congratulates Scott Dixon, of New Zealand, after Dixon won the IndyCar Honda Indy 200 auto race in Lexington, Ohio, on Sunday. Dixon won the race from the last starting place on the grid.

Photo: Tom E. Puskar, Associated Press

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– Scott Dixon and his Target Chip Ganassi team had planned on four pit stops.

Then Dixon changed his mind — and his and his team’s luck.

Dixon went from last in qualifying to capture his fifth win at Mid-Ohio in the last eight years, coasting in on low fuel Sunday to finally end his team’s victory drought in 2014.

“It was probably around Lap 30, we had to really go for it and switch it up,” he said about the altered game plan to go hard and then conserve fuel while playing keep-away with the lead.

The 34-year-old New Zealander, who started last in the 22-car field, also won on the twisty road course between Cleveland and Columbus in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2012.

“To come from last to even a top-10 here was going to be extremely difficult to do,” he said. “But we laid down some quick laps, passed some people and then hung on.”

Target Chip Ganassi has won the last six races at the track, breaking through this season in a familiar place.

Pole-sitter Sebastien Bourdais was a distant second, with James Hinchcliffe third, rookie Carlos Munoz fourth and favorite son Graham Rahal fifth.

“(Starting) 17th to (finishing) third sounds impressive until you talk about Scott,” Hinchcliffe joked. “He’s got to go and showboat, like he always does here.”

Dixon led a total of 45 laps, winning the strategy battle against the top contenders while capturing his 34th series win and first since Houston last October.

He beat runner-up Bourdais by 5.3864 seconds. Almost immediately after getting the checkered flag, just after going past pit row, he pulled quickly over into the grass near the first turn and pumped his fist to fans.

He was not out of gas, he said. But he could have been.

“The (low) fuel light came up with about a lap and a half to go,” he said. “If you were listening to the radio, you would have heard a lot of random chatter. We conserved for most of the last lap. The way our year has gone, it’s a wonder I didn’t run out and have to walk back.”

It was the farthest back a winner had started since Max Papis won at Laguna Seca in 2001. But Dixon has done this before. In 2001, he started 23rd at Nazareth and came all the way through the field to win.

After qualifying went poorly in the rain Saturday, Dixon said, “Not the best qualifying we’ve had this year, I can tell you that. There just wasn’t any grip to be found out there. We’ll have to come up with a great strategy tomorrow to dig us out of this hole.”

That’s exactly what they did.

Will Power, second in the drivers’ standings coming in, took over the No. 1 spot when leader Helio Castroneves had throttle problems on a pace lap. Power finished sixth while Castroneves, who would end up with the fastest lap of the day, was 19th.

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