Dixon scores a surprise second place at Gateway

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Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon did not hide his expectations for this weekend’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline.

“I’ll be honest. We didn’t expect to finish on the podium,” Dixon said post-race.

The reality of Honda’s short-oval aero package is that it generates considerably more drag than that of Chevrolet’s, immediately putting Dixon and the other Honda runners on the back foot entering the weekend.

However, Dixon managed to mask that disadvantage the best of all the Honda drivers and ran inside the top five for nearly the entire race. And, he took advantage of Josef Newgarden’s aggressive pass on Simon Pagenaud to get around Pagenaud for second late in the race, which is where he stayed until the checkered flag.

Dixon described afterward that progress during Friday night practice gave him hope that they’d be able to at least hang with the Penske cars.

“I think we saw in the warmup that the gap had closed significantly with the trim level that we were able to achieve,” he said. “I think mechanically our car was very good. We took a pretty big step in downforce off the car.”

However, Dixon also added that drafting off the Penske cars allowed him to stay with them, and he would’ve been unable to keep them at bay had he ever been out front.

“Unfortunately with the aero kit that we have, in this configuration, it just has a ton of drag. I think for me personally, you know, running with them was the best opportunity for speed for us. It enabled us to stay with them. I think our car was quite good through one and two. Had we been out front, I think we would have been a sitting duck.”

Dixon finished, “It worked out well with how the race played out. As I said earlier, it’s kind of the best circumstances we could have helped for.”

Dixon’s second-place finish moves him up to second in the championship, 31 points behind points leader Newgarden.

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Travis Pastrana leads flag-to-flag in Nitro Rallycross as the series returns to America

Pastrana Nitro Rallycross
Barry Chin / Getty Images
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Travis Pastrana waited until the final trip around ERX Motor Park to take his Joker Lap – a longer way around the course that all drivers must do at least once in a race – and came out cleanly to win his first Nitro Rallycross race of 2022. With this win, Pastrana is the third driver to visit Victory Lane in the first three rounds of the 2022-23 season.

“This is the closest to a motocross track,” Pastrana told Katie Osborne on Peacock. “Thank you so much for a beautiful facility. It’s been a rough start to the season and I’m so thankful to be back out here. We had a good run in the side-by-side and now for this. This is much needed.”

Another thing needed was the sense of improvement. And Pastrana earned that affirmation each time he completed a lap around the course.

“I get my lap times read out and they said ‘fastest time of the week,’ ‘fastest time of the week’ (each time around) ” Pastrana said. “This is really special. We’re a long way behind in the championship, but welcome to America.”

In a pre-race press conference, Pastrana said that as Nitro Rallycross heads back to America, it was time for an American to win and he made good on his promise. Pastrana took the early lead over Robin Larsson and let the back of his Subaru hang out, taking risks he might not otherwise take if not for his need to win.

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Larsson’s second-place finish completed a perfect sweep of the podium in three rounds. In fact, he has not yet finished worse than second after winning the opening round at Lydden Hill in the United Kingdom and finishing second at Strangnas in Sweeden.

Fraser McConnel rounded out the podium for his best result of the season. He finished fourth in each of the first two rounds.

Last year, Pastrana finished second in this race to Scott Speed before narrowly edging his teammate for the championship.

Andreas Bakkerud crashed in prelims, but rebounded to finish just off the block in fourth. Bakkerud won the second round ahead of his teammate Larsson.

Oliver Bennett completed the top five.

Minneapolis is the first of three rounds scheduled in the United States. Next on the schedule is Glen Helen, Calif. on Octo 30 and then Phoenix at Wild Horse Pass on November 12th. Nitro Rallycross will then head to Saudi Arabia in December to continue their 2022-23 season.