Alex Palou has successfully fought off the fight from Josef Newgarden for the 2023 NTT IndyCar Series title but he now has a new rival heading into the final two events of the season.
Palou‘s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon hadn’t won all year prior to the Indianapolis road course last time out where he fuel saved like his life depended on it to cross the line first. And that’s exactly what he did this time too.
The fuel-saving king ignored everyone else, who were pitting early due to excessive tyre wear, and kept to the plan of a three-stop race as everyone else came to the lane an extra time.
“So proud of the team and happy for everybody,” Dixon told NBC Sports after the race. “We took a pretty good grid penalty so we had to go the alternate route.
“It worked out perfectly, they gave me the number I needed to be hitting so a massive thanks to them.”
Back-to-back wins have catapulted the six-time champion to second in the standings and he is now the only man with a realistic chance of stopping Palou from claiming his second title. That’s because Newgarden ended his perfect oval record in 2023 by getting into the marbles and hitting the Turn 2 wall, causing enough damage to end his competitive race.
It’s still a long shot for Dixon, who is more than a race win behind Palou on points, but the Spaniard still needs to get over the line and there is no one better than the Kiwi when it comes to crunch time.
Pato O’Ward had another strong showing without victory in second while David Malukas‘ fabulous oval record continued in third, putting himself in the shop window for 2024 as a free agent.
The useless second lane
IndyCar had a dedicated practice session just for the teams and drivers to try the high lane rather than just circulating around the inside as they so often do at Gateway. They did a similar thing at Iowa and Texas and it worked there, but it couldn’t have been any less effective here.
Marbles developed extremely quickly and almost immediately made the second lane unusable outside of restarts, making the racing rather stale for long periods of green flag running.
The issue with Gateway is that there is little to no banking to make the wider line that little bit faster. There is nothing to make the shortest route around the track worse as a run goes on because there is so much downforce on these cars.
It might even be worth running super speedway specification on all ovals to make it a looser affair for the drivers and potentially bring in that high and wide line to allow for side-by-side racing.
|1||Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi Racing|
|2||Pato O’Ward||Arrow McLaren|
|3||David Malukas||Dale Coyne Racing|
|4||Alexander Rossi||Arrow McLaren|
|5||Scott McLaughlin||Team Penske|
|6||Colton Herta||Andretti Autosport|
|7||Alex Palou||Chip Ganassi Racing|
|8||Felix Rosenqvist||Arrow McLaren|
|9||Will Power||Team Penske|
|10||Marcus Ericsson||Chip Ganassi Racing|