Scott Dixon frustrated with early race penalty, happy to finish 3rd in the end at Portland, his thoughts on Sunday’s race

PORTLAND, Ore — Scott Dixon did what he felt like he had to do at the start of Sunday’s Grand Prix of Portland. He described his side of things on the opening lap of Sunday’s Grand Prix of Portland as he felt his maneuver that he made was a move to cover Graham Rahal’s fight to the front and felt like that would be good enough to get him through the opening corner unscathed.

He couldn’t help Felix Rosenqvist ran into him and then shot through the first corner. That forced Dixon to peddle it lightly himself in order not to get into his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate of Alex Palou either. Both went low to escape a spinning Oliver Askew and abided by track rules to blend back in.

“Definitely started a little strange and shook the field,” Dixon said after earning his 126th career podium.

“Just starting with the start, I filled that gap because I figured (Graham) Rahal or somebody was going to try and scoot down the inside of us. I bailed out of it and then got hit from behind, I think it was Felix, and that caused a bit of an interesting moment for all of us on the start there.

“Then race control, it was just the craziest thing I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been in racing a little while. I don’t know what they were thinking or how that came about, but put all of us at the back the field. Be interesting to go talk to them later and see how they came up with that scenario.”

They thought by being fourth (Dixon) and sixth (Palou), they did enough. INDYCAR thought otherwise. Dixon, Palou and others were sent behind all the cars that didn’t go off course to avoid the crash. They were now in the back and while back there, they elected to pit on Lap 9 under the caution. I mean, why not?

Little did they know then, that move actually helped them get podiums.

“Thankfully I guess that maybe made our day, all of us up here, the result that we ended up with,” Dixon continued. “Thankful that it turned out the way it did.

“You know, with especially how long that caution was, we knew that it was going to fall into a two-stopper, so we knew we still had kind of a chance. How that was going play out, we didn’t really know. But it’s frustrating. You kind of want that easy race as far as knowing what you need to do and not having such a strange occurrence at the start to kind of flip it.

“But yeah, in the end it worked out well. Set us on the other strategy and it paid off.”

Pato O’Ward bolted off the strategy before the Lap 51 caution. So did several others. Graham Rahal, Ed Jones, Jack Harvey, Takuma Sato and Josef Newgarden were the only ones left with a two stopper. Dixon and Palou were now ahead of O’Ward and all the others that pit on Lap 51. If strategy played itself out right now, the field flipped back to their favor and would give them their positions back.

It sure did.

Palou won. Dixon was third. It was only Dixon’s second podium since his Texas win. But, he’s had four top four finishes in his last six tries on the season too. The problem is, Palou won and Dixon falls to 49 points behind with only two races left. What are his thoughts now?

Dixon, says that he will maybe even now move into a spot to where he can help Palou win the title to ensure a Ganassi driver is crowned a champion when it’s all said and done. 49 points is a lot to make up in two races.

“It’s definitely been a trying season for us, but ultimately if it comes down to we need to help Alex (Palou) that’s fine, too,” he said. “I think for us it’s about keeping the championship at home and at the team.

“So yeah, it’s just the way it rolls sometimes. But yeah, we’ll — obviously we’ve seen it. We saw it at St. Louis how quickly it can flip. We’ve seen how quickly it can flip this weekend. Unless you’re out, you’re not out. We’ve won championships on a tiebreaker. It’s all possible.”

He was 48 down with three races left in 2015 but the final race paid double points. He was also 49 points down in 2013 with three races-to-go. So, anything is possible. But, with three other drivers in front, it may make life difficult to come through them all en route to his series tying seventh championship.

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