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Dixon takes 5th Mid-Ohio title

08/03/2014, 12:00am EDT
By RACHEL LENZI BLADE SPORTS WRITER

1st victory of season begins from back of 22-car field

Dixon takes 5th Mid-Ohio title

Car owner Chip Ganassi congratulates Scott Dixon, of New Zealand, after Dixon won the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. ASSOCIATED PRESS


Scott Dixon earned his first IndyCar win of the season today in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. ASSOCIATED PRESS

LEXINGTON, Ohio — Scott Dixon walked away from his race car and watched as several of his IndyCar competitors passed him.

At first glance, it appeared that Dixon had run out of fuel well beyond the start-finish line at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and was taking the long way back to his Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammates.

By the time Dixon began walking back to the start-finish line, the race was over and a certain weight was lifted off Dixon. The rest of the 22-car field was wrapping up their final laps as Dixon savored his first win of the season.

Dixon avoided a potential loss of fuel in the late laps of Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 to win the 90-lap race, finishing ahead of Sebastien Bourdais and James Hinchcliffe.

“I parked it,” Dixon said of his Chevrolet. “They said it could have been a long walk had I run out [of fuel].”

Dixon earned Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s first win of 2014 and earned his fifth career win at Mid-Ohio. Even more remarkable? Dixon won Sunday despite starting last in the 22-driver field, after he failed to get out of Saturday’s first round of qualifying on the 2.258-mile road course

Asked how he would describe Dixon, Hinchcliffe was descriptive.

“Scott Dixon, Mid-Ohio winner again,” Hinchcliffe said. “Mid-Ohio winner again, again, again, again. He always wins here. It’s crazy. I can’t wait until he gets old and slows down. That’s not coming anytime soon.”

Then, Dixon walked into the media center at Mid-Ohio.

“Well, I guess we should stop talking about you,” Hinchcliffe quipped.

While Dixon maintained the lead for the bulk of the final 25 laps — and at one point extended it to a lap over Bourdais — both Bourdais and Hinchcliffe took advantage of a muddled pit stop by Josef Newgarden on the 65th lap.

Newgarden had taken the lead from Dixon when he pitted, but was penalized for running over an air hose on pit road and finished 12th.

“We didn’t get it right,” Newgarden said. “It’s a shame. We had such a strong car and man, we had great strategy.”

Dixon took his first race lead on the 40th lap, then regained it again on the 68th lap. From there, Dixon focused on conserving fuel, a significant factor in a stretch of nonstop driving.

“A good car counts for a lot of it, but the technique I use to save fuel is really good for Mid-Ohio,” Dixon said. “I pretty much didn’t use the brakes all the way through, from Turn 4 to Turn 9. You just try to coast as you go through. It’s mostly technique, and you really need a good car to be able to pull off the big fuel-mileage numbers.”

With less than two laps left, a light came on in his Chevrolet, indicating that his fuel reserve was dwindling. But the end of the race approached.

“It was pretty tight,” Dixon said. “The first thing that came to my mind was, thank God I saved continuously on fuel.

“Had I continued on not saving on fuel, we would have been a lap short.”

SHUFFLE AT THE TOP: With the season winding down, Sunday’s race had implications on the top of the driver points standings. Helio Castroneves led Will Power by 13 points entering the race but mechanical issues kept Castroneves from getting on the track until the fifth lap. Castroneves had throttle issues as cars began to leave pit road for the start of the race.

Castroneves finished 19th, four laps behind the field, and trails Power by four points. Two races remain before the season finishes on Aug. 30 in Fontana, Calif.

CRASHED: Two years of caution-free racing at Mid-Ohio ended less than one lap into Sunday’s race, when Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti crashed in Turn 1 on the first lap.

“As soon as Hinchcliffe was in front of me and made an evasive move, I was right on top of Tony and I didn’t know he was backwards,” Andretti said.

The two collided as Kanaan attempted to pass Newgarden on the inside.

“It was really tight for both of us and I don’t know if he saw me or not,” Kanaan said. “I was all the way alongside him and then toward the middle of the corner, he was actually a little bit ahead so there was contact there. I was in a tough position there.”

Contact Rachel Lenzi at: rlenzi@theblade.com, 419-724-6510, or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.

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