Ganassi’s Scott Dixon, who has been a runner-up on nearly every podium this season finally nabbed his first win of the season this weekend at the Kohler Grand Prix at Road America.
His patience not only solidified his lead in the IndyCar Championship standings, but also shows his cool “Ice Man” collective, while demonstrating his superb fuel-saving skills.
And fuel-saving was the name of the game this weekend. The 4.014 mile Road America circuit is on the of the longest on the IndyCar calendar which meant fuel-saving was crucial. Drivers were under a 3- or 4-stop strategy, which one clearly worked better than the other after the issued cautions this weekend.
Two cautions were issued for the day. The first was after Andretti’s Takuma Sato, who was already in some pain from a pinched nerve occuring in yesterday’s qualifying stint, spun into the wall at the “Kink” in Turn 11.
He would be able to rejoin, but would be a lap down.
Turn 11 would take Ganassi’s Tony Kanaan as it’s last victim with nearly 10 laps to go. Kanaan was trying to get around Andretti-Herta’s Alexander Rossi, and would do so unsuccessfully, going straight into the wall. Kanaan would be the only car to retire the entire race (which one retirement is a nice change of pace from the Texas, Detroit and 500’s “casualties”).
The course would go to green with six laps to go and ended as a game of chase between Dixon and Penske’s Josef Newgarden. Newgarden could have possibly made it pass Dixon to get a win, but he did something we’ve seen before in prior races this season and eked out a couple of mistakes that cost him extra time, and therefore lost his chance at a first place finish, putting him at #2.
Rounding out the podium was this weekend’s pole winner, Penske’s Helio Castroneves. Castroneves would lead the second most laps at 17 of the 55.
Odd to see last year’s winner, Penske’s Will Power not make the podium. The man was driving quite the aggressive and defensive race. First a defensive standoff with teammate Simon Pagenaud. Next was with Rossi, resulting in him giving up his spot due to questionable blocking.
And then there was that contact with Schmidt Peterson’s James Hinchcliffe, resulting in Hinch needing to pit and losing two laps to repair the damage. And he never got those laps back.
But Power was really digging into it today. Perhaps it was his history with road courses. Maybe his history with this particular course, but he was fighting hard and by the looks of it a little dangerously hard.
But Power joined the rest of the Penske brigade to follow Dixon’s win with a 2, 3, 4, 5 finish: Newgarden, Castroneves, Pagenaud and Power.
Other notable to mention is Schmidt-Peterson’s Mikhail Aleshin, who joined the Kohler GP party a little late due to Visa issues trying to leave France after participating in Le Mans last weekend. DTM driver Robert Wickens replaced Aleshin for Friday’s practices until Aleshin could make it back to the States. Sunday Aleshin would make a nine-place improvement from 19th to 10th, scoring points in the process.
Now for another two week break for the holiday and we return with the Iowa Corn 300.
Final results at Road America’s Kohler Grand Prix:
1. Scott Dixon (Ganassi)
2. Josef Newgarden (Penske)
3. Helio Castroneves (Penske)
4. Simon Pagenaud (Penske)
5. Will Power (Penske)
6. Charlie Kimball (Ganassi)
7. Ed Jones (Dale Coyne) (R)
8. Graham Rahal (Rahal Letterman)
9. Max Chilton (Ganassi)
10. Mikhail Aleshin (SPM)
11. Carlos Munoz (Foyt)
12. Spencer Pigot (ECR)
13. Alexander Rossi (Andretti-Herta)
14. Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti)
15. Conor Daly (Foyt)
16. JR Hildebrand (ECR)
17. Esteban Gutierrez (Dale Coyne) (R)
18. Marco Andretti (Andretti)
19. Takuma Sato (Andretti)
20. James Hinchcliffe (SPM)
21. Tony Kanaan (Ganassi) DNF