Dixon leads most laps in Indy 500, 84, but ends unrepresentative fourth

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INDIANAPOLIS – Scott Dixon led a race-high 84 laps and had his best shot since his first and thus far only Indianapolis 500 triumph in 2008 to add a second to his resume.

But despite scoring the pole position, he ended an unrepresentative fourth at the end of the 2015 edition, the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500.

The first thing that seemed to prove Dixon’s undoing early, was, ironically, his fuel mileage.

Dixon, the renowned fuel saving master, wound up pitting earlier than most of his counterparts in the early portion of the race because he was out front.

Still, he recycled to the front more often than not. Of his 84 laps led, he led 56 of the first 100 laps and only 28 of the last 100.

Dixon was engaged with two Team Penske teammates at any one time. Most of the day it was Will Power and Simon Pagenaud, and only in the latter portion of the race did eventual race winner Juan Pablo Montoya emerge as a contender along with Power.

Dixon and Power exchanged the lead in the final 15-lap dash, before Montoya came calling first on Lap 192, and then again on Lap 197.

Meanwhile Dixon fell back a position to fourth in the final four laps, with his own teammate Charlie Kimball getting ahead of him.

“I think we generally had a pretty good restart there. I was just trying to pace it,” Dixon said. “When I really needed to go, I just couldn’t turn the car. We were fighting a little bit with the car overheating, so we were trying to go over different ignition maps. There was definitely a lot going on.

“As the laps were counting down I was trying to make something happen. Every time I came to the apex at Turn Two or even Four toward the end, the front just wouldn’t hang on and I had to breathe it.”

Dixon, ever the consummate professional, congratulated his rivals on a great race.

“Congrats to Juan. He drove a hell of a race and it was a good comeback from where he came from,” he said. “Obviously Charlie did a good job too coming up to third. I’m real proud of the Team Target guys. They did a good job all month but unfortunately we came away with fourth.”

Asked what he thought he could change, Dixon said he wanted more front end grip.

“Probably would have gone more front wing or a pressure change or something to get a little more front end.

“I was OK when I was in second place, but if I dropped to third or fourth, it was keep the car turning middle off, and that’s what caught us out. We’ll come back. The Target team has been strong all year, but this one always hurts.”

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, stats

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.