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.