INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Scott Dixon answered a few questions and started walking down pit road when he realized he had forgotten something: his wife.
Dixon turned around, grabbed Emma’s hand and took off for what was to be one of the most nerve-wracking rides of his IndyCar career. Disappointment. Disgust. Discomfort. Dixon had to feel them all.
The 41-year-old New Zealander had the car to beat for much of Sunday’s Indy 500 until a late speeding penalty cost him a chance to kiss the bricks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time since 2008.
Dixon was attempting to make what should have been his final pit stop, with 23 laps remaining, when he locked up the rear tires while braking and got agitated. IndyCar’s sophisticated timing and scoring system flagged his speed, and officials issued a passing penalty that cost him precious seconds and a significant number of places.
He basically had no chance on the stretch.
“It’s just heartbreaking, to be honest,” Dixon said. “It must have been very tight. … I think it was like a mile per hour or something. It’s just frustrating. The car was really good all day. We had a really good speed. The team did an amazing job on the strategy. I just messed up.
He also owned it.
Dixon got out of his #9 Honda, apologized to every crew member he could track down and even went next door to do the same with everyone working in teammate Alex Palou’s box. of Chip Ganassi Racing.
It was a bittersweet ending for sure.
Another Ganassi teammate, Marcus Ericsson, won the Indy 500 after Dixon’s mistake, and his close friend and teammate Tony Kanaan crossed the finish line in third place.
Dixon finished 21st, his fourth-worst result at IndyCar’s showpiece event.
Dixon received a lot of sympathy and support as he rode the grid. Fans cheered his name. Crew members from other teams offered their condolences. Indianapolis native Ed Carpenter stopped Dixon and asked him what happened.
Kanaan and Dixon shared a long hug. Graham Rahal patted her on the back.
Emma Davies-Dixon asked them both the same question: Why did IndyCar throw up a red flag with five laps to go. Just two years ago, race control was in a similar position – with Scott Dixon second to Takuma Sato – when IndyCar let the race end in yellow.
“Because they are not consistent,” Rahal replied. “They do what they want.”
Kanaan had a different opinion, saying IndyCar made the right call for one main reason.
“I believe we are here for the fans,” Kanaan said. “We hear the fans. Yeah, a lot of people are going to have different opinions about it. … They came here to see a race, a green flag race and a checkered flag race. It was the right choice. …
“That’s what people wanted to do. I completely agree. … If I was in the stands, I want to see a race end under the green.
Scott Dixon declined to comment on the different endgame approaches.
“I don’t know. We were out of it by then, so it didn’t really matter to us,” he said.
But what about 2020?
“Could, should I, should I, right?” ” he said. “That’s why it’s so difficult to win here.”
Dixon had his share of angst in Indy. The six-time IndyCar champion and widely regarded as the greatest driver of his generation, has finished twice in the 500 since his lone victory at the Brickyard 14 years. He started from pole for the fourth time in the last eight years and led a record 95 laps, more than twice as many as Palou and 82 more than Ericsson.
“It was definitely super fast, I had good speed all day,” he said. “I think if things went better we would be in the fight at the end. But obviously not.”
Still, Dixon found himself in the winner’s circle. Despite the heartbreak, his long walk with Emma led them to celebrate with Ericsson and his Ganassi teammates.
“When someone does something good, everyone celebrates,” Ganassi said. “No one is happier than all the other drivers for a team win.”
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