Scott Dixon crushes field for first victory in GMR Grand Prix at Indy

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Scott Dixon opened the NTT IndyCar Series season with his second consecutive victory — and his first in the IndyCar Grand Prix at Indianapolis.

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver capitalized on sound strategy and a well-timed caution Saturday on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, taking the lead from Graham Rahal on Lap 48 of 80 and controlling the second half of the race.

Dixon won by 19.9469 seconds over Rahal. Defending race winner Simon Pagenaud rallied to finish third after starting 20th. Colton Herta and Rinus VeeKay rounded out the top five.

“So good to be racing here back at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” Dixon told NBC Sports pit reporter Marty Snider in victory lane.

It was a breakthrough of sorts for the five-time series, who had finished runner-up the past three seasons in the GMR Grand Prix. Last year, Dixon led a race-high 39 laps before being passed by Pagenaud in the rain with four laps remaining.

“We’ve had so many runner-up spots here on the road course; it’s just nice,” Dixon said after his 48th career victory. “We got lucky, man. The strategy, the team just nailed it. We got lucky with that caution. But as soon as we got the balance right, the PNC Bank No. 9 just checked out. So it was a pretty easy day toward the end.”

Dixon, who started seventh after he barely missed advancing to the final round in qualifying, opened the 2020 season with a similarly dominant victory June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway.

“We’ve had a good start here two out of two, but we’ll have to see,” Dixon said. “It’s tough competition right now. The series has a huge step to it. We’ll keep our heads down and keep trucking on. I can’t thank everybody enough on the team. They keep giving it a little bit extra. I messed up in qualifying yesterday, but it’s nice to rebound like we did.

“You don’t know how it’s ever going to go. Honestly with 15 to go, I thought there’d be a caution, have a repack, and Graham Rahal was super fast. I couldn’t believe his pace on the black tires. Just happy having a little bit of luck that put us in the right direction. Once the guys on the car made a change, it was so much easier as a driver, and we could just check out.”

With its 110th victory in IndyCar, Chip Ganassi Racing snapped a five-race winning streak on the IMS road course for Team Penske, which had the prerace favorite in Will Power.

For the first time in four races as the GMR Grand Prix pole-sitter, Power failed to win after qualifying first. He led the first 16 laps before a pit stop and then cycled into the lead again on Lap 27.

But the Team Penske driver’s strategy was scuttled after he pitted again during a full-course caution on Lap 35 for a crash involving Oliver Askew. Power never led again and finished a lap down in 20th.

The lone yellow flag flew when Askew spun in Turn 14 and backed his No. 7 Dallara-Chevrolet into the SAFER barrier. It spoiled what had been shaping up as an excellent weekend for the Arrow McLaren SP rookie, who had qualified fifth Friday.

“I’m OK, just a little bit dizzy,” Askew told NBC Sports pit reporter Dave Burns after being released from the care center. “Sure I’m dehydrated as well. It’s super hot in the car. Really unfortunate. That’s unacceptable to have a result like that. I have to go back and check the data and talk to the guys and see exactly what happened.

“I just lost the rear of the car. It was toward the end of my stint, so the rears were starting to go away. It just really caught me off guard. Really sorry for the guys, and we’ll move on.”

It also was a disappointing race for Alexander Rossi, who lost power on the restart after Askew’s crash. Rossi, who also had engine problems in a 15th in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, said it likely was a fuel pressure problem that caused his 25th-place finish.

“It’s just unfortunate,” said Rossi, who was running seventh before the incident after starting 11th. ” We obviously got off to a decent start. (The Car) was good. We had a difficult day yesterday, but I thought we were fighting back for maybe a top five. It’s a shame to have two of these weekends in a row like this.

“It sucks, but we’ve got two doubleheaders now in the next two weeks. Four races, so we’re going to have to go hard and capitalize. We’re already thinking about going for race wins.”

Sergio Perez still has coronavirus; will miss second consecutive F1 race

F1 Sergio Perez out
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SILVERSTONE, England — Sergio Perez will be out for a second F1 race at Silverstone this week after again testing positive for the coronavirus.

The Mexican driver had hoped to return to Formula One after spending seven days in quarantine, but his Racing Point team said this morning he had tested positive.

“He is physically well and recovering,” the team said. “The whole team wishes Sergio and his family well and we look forward to his return.”

That means German veteran Nico Hulkenberg again fills in for Sunday’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix after having also replaced Sergio Perez when he was out for the F1 British Grand Prix at the same venue last week. Hulkenberg did not start that race because of an engine problem.

There are two consecutive weekends of racing at Silverstone as Formula One tries to pack in races following the pandemic-delayed start to the season.

Perez became the first Formula One driver to test positive for coronavirus, and it had been unclear whether he would be available to drive after the period of quarantine was extended to 10 days.

Racing Point also was in the news Friday after being hit with a 15-point penalty in the Formula One constructors’ championship and fined 400,000 euros ($470,000) Friday for using brake ducts based on those from last year’s Mercedes cars.

The stewards ruled that Mercedes was the “principal designer” of the parts, and that Racing Point made only minor changes to computer design data it received from Mercedes.

Rival team Renault filed protests about the legality of the brake ducts, which were added to the “listed parts” under F1 rules for 2020. That means teams must design their own. Racing Point argued it was merely using information about the Mercedes parts to inform its own design.

Racing Point uses customer engines from Mercedes and has admitted basing its 2020 car design on photographs of last year’s Mercedes car. The similarities led to the Racing Point being nicknamed the “pink Mercedes” when it was first seen in testing ahead of the season.

Racing Point can appeal the ruling. The points deduction drops the team from fifth to sixth in the standings, below Renault. The ruling doesn’t affect the points totals for Racing Point’s drivers.