Scott Dixon played spoiler in Saturday’s IndyCar race, and it felt inevitable from the opening lap all the way to the checkered flag.
After securing his first IndyCar pole position since 2017 on Friday afternoon ahead of Saturday afternoon’s Gallagher Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal was poised to end a more than six-year win drought.
Unfortunately for the driver of the No. 15 Honda, a seventh career win did not come to fruition on Saturday, thanks to a familiar face playing a familiar role.
Six-time series champion Scott Dixon found himself backwards on the opening lap as a result of a multi-car pileup in turn seven of the 13-turn, 2.49-mile (3.935-kilometer) Speedway, Indiana road course.
Generally speaking, throughout Scott Dixon’s illustrious IndyCar career, such a scenario has meant that he is a lock to finish in the top five.
That’s just Scott Dixon for you.
But this time, he took it a step further — three steps up the podium, actually. And yet it felt as inevitable as a Tom Brady fourth quarter two-minute drive, down by seven in the NFL playoffs.
Already at the back, Dixon and the No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing team made the decision to pit on lap five. If they could make it to lap 32, they could complete the remainder of the 85-lap race on just one more stop, while all of the frontrunners, including Rahal, would need to make an additional stop.
Dixon made it to lap 32 and had spotted himself about a seven-second lead over Rahal before making his pit stop.
With no more cautions from then until the end of the race, Dixon was forced to save a little bit a fuel, but it was not an exorbitant amount, especially not for a driver known to be a master at burning as little fuel as possible. Let’s be honest; there was never a doubt. But as Dixon aimed to make it on just one more stop, Rahal knew for sure he needed two.
The battle between the former teammates came down to the final lap after Rahal closed the gap to under a half-second, but Dixon played spoiler and made the 2023 season his 19th consecutive winning season, extending his all-time record. He pulled it off on the same day he broke Tony Kanaan’s all-time record for consecutive race starts with number 319.
The New Zealander earned his 54th career victory in typical Scott Dixon fashion, moving him closer to A.J. Foyt’s record of 67. While the win was his first in more than a year, it truly felt like the race was his to lose as the first stint played out.
And when a race becomes Dixon’s, he generally doesn’t lose. Sure enough, there was nothing that anybody — on any strategy — could do to stop him.
Dixon has gone on relatively “long” stints without a win before; last year, in fact, he ended a win drought of 22 races. His win drought prior to Saturday sat at 16.
Yet here he is at 43 years old, continuing what he has been doing his entire career.
While that win was his first of the year, he moved up to second place in the championship standings, surpassing Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden, this year’s Indy 500 winner and a four-time winner in 2023. Dixon’s only finish lower than seventh this season came after contact on the streets of Long Beach in mid-April.
Keep in mind, only one other driver has gone more than 11 straight seasons with a win, and that driver, Team Penske’s Will Power, is winless through 14 of 17 races on this year’s schedule. So what Dixon continues to do is unprecedented.
But for as unprecedented as it is, it is just as inevitable. You truly never can count out the Ice Man.