• Sat. Apr 1st, 2023

Scott Dixon wins at Nashville

BySean Clark

Aug 7, 2022

Photo via Travis Hinkle

Scott Dixon used pit strategy to gain the advantage in a caution-filled race on the streets of Nashville for his second win of the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series season.

Dixon has now passed Mario Andretti for sole possession of second place on the all-time wins list with 53.

The six-time champion held off fellow Kiwi Scott McLaughlin, who attempted to pass him at the very last second for the victory. The margin of victory for Dixon was 0.1067 seconds, the fourth-closest finish at a road or street course in IndyCar history.

“We were worried about him (McLaughlin) because I knew he would take chances with the standings and he was super fast and had fresh tires,” Dixon said. “If there was a lap or two more, it [holding him off] would have been tough to do.”

The 2022 Big Machine Music City Grand Prix was delayed over two hours before the green flag due to a thunderstorm in the Nashville area. Wrecks on the corners happened consistently throughout the race, shaking up the field and pit strategies. In the end, there were eight cautions (one fewer than last year) and 36 cautions of the 80 laps were run under a yellow flag.

Twice in the race, some drivers made pit stops right before the yellow flag, allowing them to undercut the leaders. On Lap 22, defending champion Alex Palou pitted one lap before a caution caused by Helio Castroneves, allowing him to cycle out front.

While he looked to be in control, another caution occurred on Lap 52 as Graham Rahal and Rinus VeeKay collided. Dixon pitted one lap prior and took the lead from Josef Newgarden, who needed another stop due to issues early in the race

Dixon had to overcome adversity after a massive pile-up on Lap 26 caused him big damage that forced him to pit and work his way through the field.

“We had a big crash; it took half the floor off the car,” Dixon added. “We had to take four tires and the front wing off and we had no grip. The last set of tires last 45 to 50 laps.”

McLaughlin started on pole for the second time in his IndyCar career, winning at St. Petersburg to start the season after his maiden pole. During both pit cycles, McLaughlin was on the wrong end of the pit strategies and had to make up ground on every restart. A slow stop further hampered his efforts.

Eventually, McLaughlin caught his way back up to race-winning contention but lost in another drag race in 2022 (lost to Josef Newgarden in a drag race at Texas).

“Congrats to Scotty, I always dreamed of racing him to the finish,” McLaughlin said. “I hate coming in second.”

Palou, who is still in a legal battle with his own team, Chip Ganassi Racing, over his commitment for the 2023 season, finished third after finding good and bad fortune on both pit cycles. The defending champion was leading when the caution came out right before the second cycle of pit stops began.

“Every day that you are on the podium, it’s a good day in IndyCar,” Palou said.

Andretti Autosport had a tumultuous day with Colton Herta crashing on Lap 4, the same lap where Marcus Ericsson crashed on and won the race last year at Nashville. Despite being a lap down, he had the pace to work his way through the pack, taking home a P5 finish.

His teammate, Alexander Rossi, had even worse luck after multiple incidents throughout the race, including stalling on Lap 9. Miraculously, he used the same pace he had when winning at Indy last week to gain a P4 finish.

A red flag was brought out late in the race for Romain Grosjean’s crash into the wall. Grosjean, who has ruffled feathers this season for his aggressive driving, was hit by Newgarden and he showed his frustration afterward.

Newgarden, who had to pit again after the second round of pit stops, came home to finish P6 in his hometown. He responded to Grosjean after the race.

Will Power maintained his championship lead despite having steering issues and a delayed pit stop, resulting in an 11th-place finish. He leads Dixon by six points with three races to go. Ericsson, the 2022 Indianapolis 500 winner, is now 12 points behind after a P14 finish.

The 2022 NTT IndyCar Series will head to its final oval race of the season at the World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway on Aug. 20.

Race results:

Championship lead: