INDIANAPOLIS — Scott Dixon has to wonder what he has to do to get a taste of milk at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver is quickly rising up every major statistical category in the NTT IndyCar Series record book. He’s going to go down as one of, if not the, best driver ever that this series has ever seen.
In Sunday’s 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500, Dixon brought his No. 9 Honda home second. That’s where he started the day 3-hours, 10-minutes and 5-seconds before. But, in the opening two seconds of the race, Dixon went from second to first by the completion of the first 2.5-miles around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Just, 197.5 more miles to go, right?
But, for the 17th time, Dixon leaves the Indy frustrated. He’s 1-for-18 here. He’s won 49 times in the series, third most ever. Only AJ Foyt (67) and Mario Andretti (52) have more wins. If you throw out his win in July’s GMR Grand Prix here on the road course, 47 of his 49 wins have come away from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Still, Dixon thought Sunday was going to lave him with his 50th win and second in the ‘500. He led a race-high 111 of 200 laps. He came up just short. He finished second.
“I think finishing second like this helps you big-time,” Dixon said. “Makes you pretty angry. You definitely want some redemption.
“As you said, I think everybody did a fantastic job. Maybe I could have changed some of the things I did at the end of the race. But it’s easy to second-guess yourself, also second-guess the situation.
“Ultimately they did a fantastic job. It’s a bit funky like this sometimes. You can’t rely on being strong all day. You can’t rely on past races or anything like that. It is what it is. It’s definitely tough when you come up short in a situation like that.
“That’s just what it is.”
Dixon, came out of the pits for the final time in fourth but first among guys that had yet to pit. He was worried though that he wouldn’t make it to the end of fuel. So, he slowed down. That allowed Takuma Sato to pass him on Lap 172.
“When we ran the first couple laps after the last restart, we couldn’t get the fuel mileage we needed to finish the race,” Dixon continued. “We went to a leaner mixture, just kind of sat there.”
Dixon, didn’t think Sato had enough fuel to make it either. He was able to put some pressure on Sato while saving fuel, which forced Sato to just go for it. At that point, he knew if he could save enough, he would win.
“Seemed like there was a hesitation maybe about 15 to go or 12 to go where I got beside him on the straight,” said Dixon. “It’s like they started to go to a lean mixture, then they decided it was just too slow, so they kind of went back at it.
“I probably should have been a little more aggressive on that high side there. I think he would have just run me up anyway, which maybe would have put both of us in the fence, or maybe just me.
“Maybe we should have gone harder. Maybe we would have run out of fuel and been in the same position. I don’t know what was the right call. Just shows you, when I was asked if I wanted to be leading with five laps to go yesterday, absolutely, especially with a scenario like this.
“Definitely hard to swallow for the team. Massive thank you to the 9 car crew. They did a tremendous job on pit road today, strategy, everything we could. Got to say congrats to Sato, too. He drove a hell of a race. They were victorious. He’s drinking the milk, and that’s what counts.”
Dixon, now has 97 top two finishes in his career, tying Foyt for most ever. 48 out those 97 are runner-ups, only Andretti’s 56 is more. Five of those 97 also have come this year too.
Dixon has 121 podiums, trailing only Andretti (144) on the all-time list. He has 171 top fives. Again, trailing only Andretti (194). He has five championships. Only Foyt (7) has more.
He moved up to third on the all-time lap leaders chart for the Indy 500 passing Andretti, Foyt, Wilbur Shaw, Emerson Fittipaldi, Parnelli Jones and Bill Vukovich on Sunday.
Still, he has just one Indy 500 win. That haunts him.