Dixon executes another masterclass in messy Detroit GP

It was Detroit Crash City on Sunday as most of the 27 NTT IndyCar Series drivers either hit each other, hit the walls, hit tire barriers, or hit pit equipment, and kept the pace car frustratingly busy as eight cautions and 47 laps under yellow were required to complete the 100-lap race that was won in yet another masterful display of strategy by Scott Dixon and his No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

Indeed, four Honda-powered drivers locked out the front of the field at the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix as Dixon sipped fuel—pitting for the final time on lap 56—to do almost half the race on a single tank as caution after caution allowed the No. 9 team to put their driver’s unparalleled ability to conserve fuel to deliver their second victory of the season and record his 58th career IndyCar win.

Dixon was chased home by Andretti Global’s Marcus Ericsson, who got his season back on track, crossing the finish line just 0.8s behind in the No. 28 Honda. Dixon’s teammate and fellow New Zealander Marcus Armstrong completed the podium with the best result of his young career in third with the No. 11 Honda after doing his best to hold off Ericsson until surrendering second with two laps to go.


“I made the comment on the radio at about lap 50, I said, ‘I think we can make it with no more stops from this point if we do one now,’” Dixon said. “Obviously it was risky, but the team called it perfectly. We’re on the right strategy. Honda did a superb job is always. And we won.”

Ericsson was relieved to put a bad start to the season behind him with the run to second as he was able to push as hard as he could while Dixon was running at a slightly reduced speed to make it to the end.

“We had so much pace…one more lap and I might have been able to get the win,” Ericsson said. “Great day. I’m really happy with that.”

After Armstrong and Kirkwood, Alexander Rossi, as he’s done on a frequent basis in 2024, was the top Arrow McLaren driver home and the first for the event’s sponsor with the No. 7 Chevy.

Will Power, whose Team Penske organization was pummeled by misfortune and multiple mistakes on Sunday, persevered through being hit, hitting others, and a pair of penalties to secure a most improbable sixth.

With his win, Dixon took over the championship lead as former leader and teammate Alex Palou finally had his luck run out; he was on the way to a quality finish but got caught in Josef Newgarden’s half spin and sat helpless while waiting for Newgarden’s car to be cleared. Palou dropped to 16th at the finish. Strategy and driving errors robbed polesitter Colton Herta from turning his early dominance into a forgettable run to 19th.

Two years into IndyCar’s move of the Detroit GP from Belle Isle to is downtown home, the constant crashing, across all series at the event—from IMSA to Indy NXT—has made it clear that without a change to the layout, or a move to a different location altogether, the same destruction derby will continue to take place.

The race got off to an ugly start as Will Power turned himself on the right-front wheel of Theo Pourchaire, and from there, a Turn 3 parking lot developed as Santino Ferrucci, Pato O’Ward, Tristan Vautier, and Linus Lundqvist all got jammed together. Power suffered rear wing damage and had to stop for repairs and he was joined by Felix Rosenqvist, who had a punctured tire.

The restart on lap four saw Kyle Kirkwood take fourth from Newgarden. Dixon also briefly relieved Christian Lundgaard of sixth, but Lundgaard took it back a few turns later. Agustin Canapino, starting 18th, was a big beneficiary of the early melee and was up to 10th.

Out front, Herta — starting from pole on primary tires — had Alex Palou on used alternates sitting within a half-second as the race moved into its eighth lap. By lap 10, Palou was struggling and surrendered second to Scott McLaughlin, Kirkwood, Lundgaard and Newgarden.

Dixon and Pourchaire went by next and dropped Palou to eighth on lap 12 as the Spaniard’s rears gave up; he pitted for fresh alternates as the team’s tire strategy appeared to be a big failure. Forced into a three-stop strategy, the championship leader returned to the race in 24th.

Lundgaard, slightly struggling on alternates, was unable to stop Newgarden from taking fourth, and on lap 16, seconds before a Ferrucci-caused wreck spinning Helio Castroneves who was then hit by Kyffin Simpson, he got into the pits to change tires as the second caution flew.

Palou and Rosenqvist took the opportunity to pit and move to primary tires for the rest of the afternoon. Inside the top 10, all remaining drivers stayed out to stick to their two-stop plan. Only Kirkwood in third and Pourchaire in sixth were on alternates.

The restart on lap 22 had Herta leading McLaughlin, Kirkwood, Newgarden, Dixon, and Pourchaire. Ferrucci was given a drive-through penalty. Rinus VeeKay took 12th from Pietro Fittipaldi at the start of lap 23. The nice surprise at this stage was Christian Rasmussen in eighth.

One lap later, his Chevrolet engine started spewing smoke from the right exhaust bank. He pitted and retired as the race ticked over to lap 25 as Herta held a 1.8s advantage over McLaughlin.

Lap 28 saw the arrival of rain drops on the bumpiest circuit on the schedule. Pourchaire pitted on lap 31 to take primaries; he’d lost sixth to Marcus Ericsson beforehand. He’d emerge in 21st. Herta had 2.8s over McLaughlin on lap 32 as Newgarden took third from Kirkwood, whose alternates were fading.

The next caution was required on lap 33 as McLaughlin spun into the tire barrier at Turn 1. His car looked mostly undamaged. The timing of the caution favored the two-stoppers, who pitted on lap 35. It left Lundgaard in the lead. Newgarden’s strong run was hindered as his fuel probe refused to open; he’d sit for a while as the refueler fought to get it open and then waited for it to fill.

With harder rain starting to fall, a number of drivers, including O’Ward and Newgarden, pitted for rain tires. Andretti kept Herta out initially, then called him in the next lap. Palou pitted from second for wets while Lundgaard stayed out.

“Let’s stay out. Let’s see where this goes,” Lundgaard said on the radio.

Kirkwood, in second, stayed out as well. The brief shower ended quickly, leaving the track wet but likely to dry in short order.

The lap 41 restart had Lundgaard, Kirkwood, Dixon, Ericsson, Grosjean, and Power in the top six. VeeKay was seventh and Palou was the first driver on wets in eighth. Canapino was ninth on alternates. Herta in 10th on down to Sting Ray Robb in 22nd were on wets. IndyCar also penalized Power three positions for failing to pack up.

Kirkwood took the lead from Lundgaard as Power and a lunging VeeKay clashed, which sent VeeKay spinning. He’d stall and the fourth caution flew.

Lundgaard and a wave of drivers including Palou, Herta and Pourchaire pitted for new or dry tires. Lundgaard hit his new right-front tire as he came to a stop in his pit box, and Newgarden also hit equipment—his left-front wheel gun and hose—which wasn’t cleared before he accelerated away. The stuck gun and hose in his right-front wheel assembly pulled the No. 2 Chevy towards the pit wall in Lundgaard’s box before it dislodged and he continued.

The lap 46 restart had Kirkwood leading Dixon, Ericsson, Rossi, Grosjean, Armstrong, Lundgaard, and Palou. Herta, trying to fire down the inside of Palou, tapped the wall, touched Tristan Vautier, and slid into the runoff area and stalled. Caution No. 5.

Lap 50 under yellow had Kirkwood, Dixon, Ericsson, Rossi, Grosjean, and Armstrong holding the top six at the halfway point. Newgarden was 12th and Herta, down a lap, was 23rd. Power, in 21st, was hit with a penalty for service in a closed pit and had to go to the back of the field.


The green on lap 53 saw Kirkwood tear away as Grosjean, Armstrong, Lundgaard and Lundqvist got tangled in Turn 3. It was Lundgaard firing down the inside and spearing Grosjean, who was turned around and had Lundgaard’s car climb over his side. Lundgaard reversed and left the scene; Lundqvist didn’t hit anything but got stuck in the queue. Caution No. 6.

Herta, under caution, slammed into the side of Ferrucci at the crash site.

By lap 58, 34 laps of caution had been recorded. Of those who pitted, Dixon was the best who returned in 13th. Grosjean told his team there was no reason to continue—while circulating behind the pace car—due to his championship being ruined. He was told to continue.

The lap 61 restart had Kirkwood and Ericsson up front with Rossi and Palou and O’Ward and Canapino chasing them. Pourchaire clobbered Canapino to take eighth as Newgarden was given a drive-through penalty for hitting his pit equipment. Teammate Power also served his penalty at the same time. Lundgaard was ordered to pit lane to serve a stop-and-go penalty.

Bingo! Caution No. 7 for Robb, who was nerfed into the tires as McLaughlin went down the inside. Grosjean received a drive-through penalty for receiving service in a closed pits. Pourchaire was ordered to surrender three positions for his hit on Canapino.

A huge wave of pit stops on lap 65 saw Kirkwood and the rest of the leaders make their final visit. Dixon, who’d stayed out earlier after pitting on lap 56, was promoted from 13th to first.

The lap 70 restart featured Dixon, Armstrong, Vautier, Kirkwood, Newgarden, Rossi, Palou, and Ericsson in tow. Caution No. 8!

Newgarden rushed into Turn 3, tried to get slowed to avoid hitting Kirkwood, and ended up spinning sideways after clipping Kirkwood’s left-rear. Palou had nowhere to go and came to a stop pointed at Newgarden’s sidepod. Palou would resume in 18th and Newgarden was 19th.

The lap 74 restart had Dixon leading Armstrong, Vautier, Kirkwood, Ericsson, Rossi, Power, O’Ward, Rosenqvist, and Fittipaldi in 10th. Kirkwood went by Vautier for third.

Lap 80 and Dixon was making speed and cruising at the same time up front at he held 3.3s over teammate Armstrong while stretching his fuel tank. Kirkwood was harrying Armstrong in third, 3.6s arrears from the leader.

Newgarden was into the wall with his left-rear and onto pit lane for repairs. A brutal day for the Indy 500 winner. Vautier, on worn alternates, was dropping back — to 14th on lap 85 — but kept fighting.

Ericsson took third off teammate Kirkwood as the race drew to a close.

Lap 90 and Dixon held 1.4s over Armstrong and 3.0s on Ericsson. Herta, newly unlapped, was in front of Dixon. Would he slow the leader?

Dixon finally cleared Herta on lap 95. The lead over Armstrong was 1.3s as Herta ducked into the pits to get out of the leaders’ way. Lap 98 and Ericsson took second from Armstrong, 2.3s back from Dixon. Lundgaard, who’d raced up to fifth, pitted on the last lap for a splash of fuel and returned in 11th.

Dixon held on to win his second race of the year ahead of Ericsson, Armstrong, Kirkwood, and Rossi.


Story originally appeared on Racer