Well…at least it wasn’t second place, again.
Prior to Sunday’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon had finished second in each of the series’ four races at Barber Motorsports Park outside Birmingham.
Dixon finally broke that streak Sunday, but not in the way he wanted to. Instead of moving up to the top step of the podium, he took a step down it by finishing third behind the Andretti Autosport duo of winner Ryan Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti.
The Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver felt he had a fairly smooth race but that tire wear proved a factor in his inability to keep up with the two Americans at the front.
“Our biggest trouble [Sunday] was burning up the front tires, whether it was the wet tires or the Firestone reds,” Dixon said. “We seemed to lose rotation after about six or eight laps. Huge credit to Team Target – we made most of our positions up in the pit stops.”
Dixon was still able to turn in the fastest lap of the race, a 1:09.2995 on Lap 54 (three laps after his final stop of the day on Lap 51), despite the issue.
But the tire matter wasn’t the only thing that bothered him about Sunday. He had a particular gripe with Helio Castroneves for what he saw as jumping a restart during the event.
“I think there was the second restart or third restart where Helio jumped the start, which seems to be typical of him, which is frustrating because he doesn’t seem to get a penalty for it,” he said.
Castroneves would finish 19th after a rough race that included him being penalized for pulling into Justin Wilson’s pit stall during a round of stops under yellow on Lap 22.
Dixon also didn’t care much for the decision to go to a timed race. Due to a weather delay of several hours, the race was shortened to one hour, 40 minutes; instead of the originally scheduled 90 laps, the race wound up going 69 laps.
“I think it changes strategy a lot and you’re constantly chasing that window,” he said. “Then ultimately, you finish on a caution, too, which is also a bit of a bummer for the fans. In the future, hopefully, we can find a way around that.”