Indianapolis ( Associated Press) — Scott Dixon answers a few questions and begins trudging down a pothole road when he realizes he’s forgotten something: his wife.
Dixon turned and grabbed Emma’s hand and embarked on one of the most painful periods of his IndyCar career. Disappointment. Hatred. discomfort. Dixon had to feel them all.
The 41-year-old New Zealander had the car to beat most of the Indy 500 on Sunday until a late speeding penalty gave him a chance to kiss bricks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time since 2008.
Dixon, with 23 laps remaining, was trying to make what should have been his final pit stop, when he locked the rear tires and stumbled while applying the brakes. IndyCar’s sophisticated time-and-scoring system flagged his pace, and officials handed him a pass-through penalty that cost him valuable seconds and a significant number of spots.
He essentially had no chance down the stretch.
“To be honest, it’s heartbreaking,” Dixon said. “It must have been very close. … I think it was like a mph or something. It’s just disappointing. The car was really good all day. We had a really good pace. The team strategised.” But it worked great. I just messed up.”
He also owned it.
9 Honda, apologized to every crew member he could track down and even did the same to everyone working in the box of Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Alex Palu. Went to the next door.
It was definitely a bitter ending.
Another Ganassi teammate, Marcus Ericsson, won the Indy 500 after a Dixon error, and close friend and teammate Tony Kanan crossed the finish line in third place.
Dixon finished 21st, his fourth-worst finish in IndyCar’s signature event.
Dixon received a lot of sympathy and support as he walked the grid. Fans cheered his name. Crewmen from other teams offered condolences. Indianapolis native Ed Carpenter stopped Dixon and asked what happened.
Kanan and Dixon share a long hug. Graham Rahal patted him on the back.
Emma Davis-Dixon asked them both the same question: why did IndyCar throw a red flag with five laps to go. It was just two years earlier that race control was in a similar position – with Scott Dixon running second behind Takuma Sato – when IndyCar finished the race under yellow.
“Because they are no continuation,” replied Rachel. “They do what they want.”
Kanan had a different point of view, saying that IndyCar made the right call for one main reason.
“I believe we are here for the fans,” Kanan said. “We listen to the fans. Yeah, a lot of people are going to have different opinions about it. … They came here to see a race, a green-flag and a checkered-flag race. It was the right call. …
“That’s what people wanted to do. I’m in full support. … If I were in the stands, I’d like to see a race end under the green.
Scott Dixon declined to weigh the various race-ending approaches.
“I don’t know. We were out of it by then so it didn’t really matter to us.”
But what about 2020?
“Maybe, should, will, isn’t it?” They said. “That’s why it’s so hard to win at this place.”
Dixon has experienced his share of anger at Indy. The six-time IndyCar champion and widely regarded as the greatest driver of his generation, has finished in the 500 twice in the 14 years since his lone victory at the Brickyard. He started from pole for the fourth time in the last eight years and led a race-high 95 laps, more than double that of Palu and 82 more than Ericsson.
“It was definitely superfast, good pace all day,” he said. “I think if things were easier, we would have been in a fight in the end. But apparently not.”
Still, Dixon came in the circle of the winner. Despite the heartache, his long walk with Emma took him to celebrate with Ericsson and his Ganassi teammates.
“When someone does something good, everyone celebrates,” Ganassi said. “No one is happier than all the other drivers for the team’s victory.”
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