Dixon scores win in Phoenix’s IndyCar return (VIDEO)


AVONDALE, Ariz. – Scott Dixon took the lead before the halfway mark and proceeded to pace the remainder of the Verizon IndyCar Series’ return to Phoenix International Raceway, en route to his first win of the 2016 season in the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix.

After a late yellow flag for debris from a puncture that took out Alexander Rossi after a strong oval debut, it meant the 250-lap race ended under yellow.

Dixon controlled the race after two early issues for Helio Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, en route to his 39th career victory.

Dixon was put in position by his team, who got him up to second from sixth on the grid with a series of good pit stops, and then took the lead on Lap 96 – he never relinquished it for the rest of the day.

“It was tough. It was definitely one of the toughest races on these short ovals,” Dixon said. “I definitely think we can make some adjustments to get some more side-by-side stuff going on.

“But right now, I’m just so happy for the team. Team Target did an amazing job. It’s fantastic to have the lightning bulb back on the car. It’s the first win for this team at Phoenix. Chevy did an amazing job. But I can’t give enough credit to the crew. They did the best they could and I just tried to keep it on the track.”

Simon Pagenaud and Will Power were second and third for Team Penske, with a flying Tony Kanaan up to fourth. Pagenaud’s now into the points lead with 83 points, ahead of Dixon on 79 points and Montoya on 74.

Pagenaud came close to Dixon but was unable to pass him; as of Lap 245, he was 0.5 of a second back.

Kanaan fought back from a strategic misfire early in the race to get up to fourth. In the last 30 laps in particular, Kanaan was flying to come from five seconds or so back to within a second of the lead, but stalled out.

Graham Rahal completed the top five in a needed result for him after starting 19th, courtesy, primarily, of some outstanding pit work from the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team. He was the top Honda finisher in the race.

Montoya, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Castroneves were an unrepresentative ninth to 11th after being the starring figures throughout the race other than the winner.

Both Montoya and Castroneves lost right front tires to cause unscheduled pit stops, while Hunter-Reay – who made a number of daring passes in his No. 28 DHL Honda for Andretti Autosport – was caught out twice by untimely yellow flags. He recovered from the first, but not the second.

Josef Newgarden was sixth, Max Chilton an impressive seventh in his IndyCar oval debut and Sebastien Bourdais in eighth after a roller coaster day of his own.

Rossi, who ran in the top five to seven most of the race along with Chilton, ended in 14th – with debris following a slow puncture halting his charge and placing the race under a caution finish.

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IndyCar releases schedule for 2023 season

IndyCar schedule 2023
Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NTT IndyCar Series’ 2023 schedule will feature the same number of races and tracks as this season with some minor reshuffling of dates.

IndyCar will open the 2023 season March 5 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, and will conclude Sept. 10 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. The 107th Indy 500 will take place May 28 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The 17-race schedule will conclude with a stretch of eight races in the final nine weeks.

“The NTT IndyCar Series is on an impactful upward trajectory, making progress at a pace that befits our thrilling style of competition,” Penske Entertainment Corp. president and CEO Mark Miles said in a release. “The 2023 season provides an opportunity to further build on this trend, bringing our sport and its stars to more markets and households and reaching new consumers across the globe.”

There will be 15 events on NBC: 13 races (including six of the final seven) plus Indy 500 qualifying May 20-21. There also are three races on USA Network and the Toronto race exclusively on Peacock. All races on NBC and USA also will have live simulstreams on Peacock.

In partnership with NBC Sports, the 2022 IndyCar season was the most-watched in six years and the most-watched across NBC Sports on record. The 2022 season also was the most streamed season on record.

“We’re very excited for our 2023 NTT IndyCar Series schedule and to build on this past season’s viewership milestones,” NBC Sports vice president of programming Mike Perman said in a release. “In providing comprehensive coverage across NBC, Peacock and USA Network, NBC Sports is once again looking forward to telling the stories of these world-class drivers and this compelling series.”

Notable elements on the 2023 schedule:

–There will be the same balance of seven road course races, five street courses and five ovals.

–St. Pete will be the season opener for the 13th time.

–The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix will move from Belle Isle to the streets of downtown.

–The NASCAR doubleheader weekend at the IMS road course will shift to mid-August.

–The World Wide Technology Raceway event will move from Saturday to Sunday.

Start times for the 2023 events will be announced at a later date.

Here’s the 2023 IndyCar schedule:

Date Race/Track Network/Platform
Sun., March 5 Streets of St. Petersburg NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 2 Texas Motor Speedway NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 16 Streets of Long Beach NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 30 Barber Motorsports Park NBC, Peacock
Sat., May 13 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) NBC, Peacock
Sun., May 28 The 107th Indianapolis 500 NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 4 Streets of Detroit NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 18 Road America USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 2 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 16 Streets of Toronto Peacock
Sat., July 22 Iowa Speedway – Race 1 NBC, Peacock
Sun., July 23 Iowa Speedway – Race 2 NBC, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 6 Streets of Nashville NBC, Peacock
Sat., Aug. 12 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) USA Network, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 27 World Wide Technology Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 3 Portland International Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 10 WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca NBC, Peacock

*dates and networks/platforms are subject to change