DETROIT – Scott Dixon ended fifth today in the second of two Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Presented by Quicken Loans races, but the driver of the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet was perhaps lucky to even finish at all.
Two incidents of contact during the race left Dixon driving wounded with a broken suspension for nearly the entirety of the 70-lap race.
The first came on the opening lap. Helio Castroneves started next to Dixon on Row 2, Castroneves in third and Dixon in fourth, with Castroneves moving left into Dixon just before the start and the final Turn, Turn 14, which sent Dixon sideways and nearly into the wall.
Quite how the four-time champion saved his car spoke to his ability level, but it damaged his car to where it couldn’t turn properly the rest of the day.
Then later in the race, on Lap 22, Dixon and Juan Pablo Montoya made contact at Turn 2. Both cars pitted for repairs.
Castroneves was ordered to give back one position to Tony Kanaan after the avoidable contact with Dixon, while the Dixon/Montoya contact was reviewed with no further action taken.
Despite the contacts, Dixon managed to stay in the top 10 most of the race and moved up to fifth, just behind Josef Newgarden, by the end of the race.
Neither Penske driver – Castroneves nor Montoya – had quotes listed in Chevrolet’s official post-race transcript of all quotes.
Meanwhile Dixon recapped his day to assembled reporters, including IndyCar Radio’s Katie Hargitt and yours turly.
“It wasn’t a good day. Helio smashes into us into the fence on the start. He swerved left and right into the wall. It cost us track position,” Dixon said.
“Then in the duel with Juan, I tried to give him room but obviously I didn’t get through the corner. It affected both our days. It gave us a puncture and dropped us little ways back.
“After the first big hit from Helio, we could turn right pretty well but not left. We had the suspension hit pretty bad.”
Chip Ganassi Racing managing director Mike Hull expanded on the contacts in a separate interview with NBC Sports.
“They were viewed as racing incidents. But we were hit before the start by Helio,” Hull told NBC Sports. “They were coming before the bridge there. We got clobbered by Helio. I don’t think Helio would intentionally try to take himself out of the race before it begins! But it bent something in the suspension. We lived with that.
“Scott said, ‘It won’t turn right, and it won’t turn left, but other than that it is fine.’
“Then Juan, I don’t know what possessed Juan to make that move, but he came in with less than his full wing left and we had a flat tire. INDYCAR considered it to be not of consequence. We just live with those things. We race, and we had a great finish.
“I think our car was a lot better before we got hit, than after.”
Hull expanded and said INDYCAR Race Control can’t be held entirely to blame.
“The thing is, they have a thankless job. They don’t have our eyes. They only have the eyes given to them up there, and sometimes they don’t see the things we see,” Hull explained.
“After the fact, what they do diligently is they look at incidents and try to learn from them.
“I just hate to be an object for them to learn, twice.”