Qualifying is going to be the reason as to why Scott Dixon won’t win this year’s NTT INDYCAR Series championship. Yes, the speeding penalty for the Indy 500 was a big reason as to why he lost so many points, but qualifying has been their Achilles Heel too.
He started 16th for Sunday’s Grand Prix of Portland. It was 8th time he’s started 13th or worse including 5 of the last 6 at that. Remarkably, he rebounded to finish on the podium still in 3rd. Just imagine where he’d be if he started closer to the front.
“Could have, should have, would have,” said the 6-time series champion. “It’s one of those things. Proud of the team. I think they’ve done a great job. We keep putting ourselves in these weird situations. The car was fantastic in Q1 on the box. Didn’t expect too much of a change and thought we would have converted easy and didn’t even make it. We have to stop doing these most improved days, for sure. It’s not that much fun.
“Yeah, you know, still in it. That’s all that we can hope for. We did as much as we could today. We definitely got a little tighter at the end, but we had to use a lot of overtake early on, so that definitely changed things up, I think, for the strategy towards the final five there.
“Had a tricky moment with the 10 car coming in front of us in the pit, which kind of screwed us a bit as well, and lost a position that we should have got on Rossi, which was frustrating. All in all, I think the team did a great job today. Yeah, we’ll see. See what comes next week.”
Dixon moves from 13 points out in 3rd to a tie with Josef Newgarden (-20) in 2nd. While Will Power gained 7 points on him, Dixon has to feel like this is somewhat of a win in the fact that it was only 7 points. It could have been worse when Power was on the front row at the start and Dixon in Row 8.
Dixon now has 15 top 10 finishes in 16 races run this season but his comeback has been predicated by turning those top 10’s into top 5’s. He had just 2 top 5’s in the first 6 races. He’s now had 7 in the last 10 races including Sunday. This was his 2nd straight 3rd place finish at Portland and 3rd top 5 in the last 4 races here. Next up is Laguna Seca to where he was 3rd at in 2019 and tested there this past Monday.
While he was 13th place last year, Power was 26th…
“Anything is possible,” he noted. “I think it can be as simple as somebody having a mechanical issue. That’s the tough part. I think it’s pretty cool that we don’t need any resets or any chase championships or anything like that. It always comes down to the wire in the INDYCAR Series. It’s fun to be a part of.
“I think the one in ’15 with Montoya, it was a very outside chance. Maybe because it was double points. It was 35 maybe or so around that points gap that we needed.
“It will be interesting. It will be a fun race hopefully, and we’ll be, as I’ve always said, trying as hard as possible until we can’t do anything more about it. Yeah, we’ll hope for the best.”