Scott Dixon holds off Takuma Sato at Gateway for 50th IndyCar victory


Scott Dixon continued his march toward a sixth NTT IndyCar Series championship, capitalizing on a swift green-flag pit stop for a victory Saturday in the first race of a weekend doubleheader at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway.

It’s the fourth triumph in eight races this year for the Chip Ganassi Racing driver, who opened the season with three consecutive wins at Texas Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and Road America.

Dixon finished 0.14 seconds ahead of Takuma Sato, reversing the finishing order from Sunday’s 104th Indianapolis 500 for the 50th victory in the 329th start of his career — joining A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti as the only drivers with at least 50 wins.

RESULTS: Click here for where everyone finished Saturday at Gateway

With five races remaining, Dixon has a seemingly insurmountable 117-point lead on defending series champion Josef Newgarden in the championship standings.

“It’s totally awesome,” Dixon said on NBCSN. “I can’t thank the PNC Bank crew enough. That was a superb race all day. Sato was coming strong at the end, and I didn’t realize how strong he was coming. We were going into reserve mode to look after the engine, and he was coming with a head of steam.

“Just so happy for this team. Last week at Indianapolis was a bit of a bummer. So it’s nice to get a win, (and it be) 50! That sounds awesome. We’re going to keep on trucking and get a few more.”

Sato, who will start on pole position in Sunday’s race, nearly made it two consecutive victories, charging up to second during the final stint after a daring pass of third-place finisher Pato O’Ward.

Sato might have snatched the lead from Dixon if his last pit stop hadn’t been slow. The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver said that was frustrating “but everyone is on the same feeling, and the boys did a fantastic job two weeks in a row.

“We carried a lot of momentum,” Sato, who moved up two positions to fourth in the points, said on NBCSN. ‘We lost some pace at the beginning of the race. I wasn’t entirely comfortable in the car. But we fought strong. I’m very proud of the team.”

O’Ward finished third after leading a race-high 94 of 200 laps.

The Arrow McLaren SP driver fell behind Dixon after his final green-flag stop on Lap 164 (“they just nailed it; that’s what you have to do,” Dixon said of his pit crew) and then lost second to Sato.

“I thought we had very strong pace all race,” O’Ward said. “We rolled out of the gates very strong, very consistent throughout the run. I don’t know what these guys do in the end. Dixon got ahead of us in the pits and then just left us. Then Sato just left us, too.”

Said fourth-place finisher Colton Herta: “I thought we had the podium, and then Takuma came out and totally surprised everyone on track.”

Herta still salvaged a tough day for Andretti Autosport, which lost three of its five cars in a crash before the green flag.

With his first checkered flag at Gateway, Dixon now has victories at 23 IndyCar tracks.

“That was a textbook Scott Dixon race today,” team owner Chip Ganassi told NBCSN pit reporter James Hinchcliffe. “Steady. One at a time. Nothing fancy. Couldn’t be more happy for him.”

Marcus Ericsson finished fifth, followed by Rinus VeeKay, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Felix Rosenqvist, Tony Kanaan and Conor Daly.

The IndyCar Series will race Gateway again Sunday with coverage beginning at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Justin Grant prevails over Kyle Larson in the Turkey Night Grand Prix

Grant Larson Turkey Night / DB3 Inc.

On the heels of his Hangtown 100 victory, Justin Grant worked his way from 13th in the Turkey Night Grand Prix to beat three-time event winner Kyle Larson by 1.367 seconds. The 81st annual event was run at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway for the sixth time.

“My dad used to take me to Irwindale Speedway, and we’d watch Turkey Night there every year,” Grant said in a series press release. “This is one of the races I fell in love with. I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to run in it, never thought I’d make a show and certainly never thought I’d be able to win one.”

With its genesis in 1934 at Gilmore Stadium, a quarter-mile dirt track in Los Angeles, the race is steeped in history with winners that include AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Gary Bettenhausen and Johnnie Parsons. Tony Stewart won it in 2000. Kyle Larson won his first of three Turkey Night Grands Prix in 2012. Christopher Bell earned his first of three in 2014, so Grant’s enthusiasm was well deserved.

So was the skepticism that he would win. He failed to crack the top five in three previous attempts, although he came close last year with a sixth-place result. When he lined up for the feature 13th in the crowded 28-car field, winning seemed like a longshot.

Grant watched as serious challengers fell by the wayside. Mitchel Moles flipped on Lap 10 of the feature. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid took a tumble on Lap 68 and World of Outlaws Sprint car driver Carson Macedo flipped on Lap 79. Grant saw the carnage ahead of him and held a steady wheel as he passed Tanner Thorson for the lead with 15 laps remaining and stayed out of trouble for the remainder of the event.

“It’s a dream come true to win the Turkey Night Grand Prix,” Grant said.

Kyle Larson follows Justin Grant to the front on Turkey Night

The 2012, 2016 and 2019 winner, Larson was not scheduled to run the event. His wife Katelyn is expecting their third child shortly, but after a couple of glasses of wine with Thanksgiving dinner and while watching some replays of the event, Larson texted car owner Chad Boat to see if he had a spare car lying around. He did.

“We weren’t great but just hung around and it seemed like anybody who got to the lead crashed and collected some people,” Larson said. “We made some passes throughout; in the mid-portion, we weren’t very good but then we got better at the end.

“I just ran really, really hard there, and knew I was running out of time, so I had to go. I made some pretty crazy and dumb moves, but I got to second and was hoping we could get a caution to get racing with Justin there. He was sliding himself at both ends and thought that maybe we could get a run and just out-angle him into [Turn] 1 and get clear off [Turn] 2 if we got a caution, but it just didn’t work out.”

Larson padded one of the most impressive stats in the history of this race, however. In 10 starts, he’s won three times, finished second four times, was third once and fourth twice.

Bryant Wiedeman took the final spot on the podium.

As Grant and Larson began to pick their way through the field, Kofoid took the lead early from the outside of the front row and led the first 44 laps of the race before handing it over to Cannon McIntosh, who bicycled on Lap 71 before landing on all fours. While Macedo and Thorson tussled for the lead with McIntosh, Grant closed in.

Thorson finished 19th with McIntosh 20th. Macedo recovered from his incident to finish ninth. Kofoid’s hard tumble relegated him to 23rd.

Jake Andreotti in fourth and Kevin Thomas, Jr. rounded out the top five.

1. Justin Grant (started 13)
2. Kyle Larson (22)
3. Bryant Wiedeman (4)
4. Jake Andreotti (9)
5. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1)
6. Logan Seavey (8)
7. Alex Bright (27)
8. Emerson Axsom (24)
9. Carson Macedo (7)
10. Jason McDougal (18)
11. Jake Swanson (16)
12. Chase Johnson (6)
13. Jacob Denney (26)
14. Ryan Timms (23)
15. Chance Crum (28)
16. Brenham Crouch (17)
17. Jonathan Beason (19)
18. Cade Lewis (14)
19. Tanner Thorson (11)
20. Cannon McIntosh (3)
21. Thomas Meseraull (15)
22. Tyler Courtney (21)
23. Buddy Kofoid (2)
24. Brody Fuson (5)
25. Mitchel Moles (20)
26. Daniel Whitley (10)
27. Kaylee Bryson (12)
28. Spencer Bayston (25)