IndyCar » 7 August 2011
Emphatic win for flawless Dixon
"I got a good restart," said Dario. "Maybe do too good, because Scott pulled in behind and drafted me and before the braking zone, he was alongside. He did a great job on that restart as he did every lap today, this weekend. He's been on fire!"
"Scott was just gone," agreed Hunter-Reay. "He had a great pace."
Dario settled into second place, but he wasn't enjoying this final set of scrubbed soft tyres and didn't seem to be able to get them to grip on the track, at times running off wide into the dirt and giving Hunter-Reay a sniff of a chance to try a move. But Hunter-Reay was oddly reticent to try anything - perhaps the probation he was under was weighing on his mind, as taking out the championship leader in a rash late-race move would definitely have incurred the wrath of Barnhart, but it seemed that he had decided to settle for third place and leave the top spots to Ganassi.
"Dario and I were about on the same pace," said Hunter-Reay at the post-race press conference. "I was quicker than him through some of the quicker corners, like turns 11 and 1, but he had me through every corner leading on to a passing zone. So I really never had a legitimate shot to take a lunge."
James Hinchcliffe's attempts to rise from first lap disaster, which had so nearly worked, came to an end shortly after the second restart when he spin out onto the dirt and found himself right back where his race had started - the end of the lead lap. This time though he knew it was his fault and could only apologise over the team radio to his crew.
"Made a rookie mistake," he confessed. "It's one of the tough things about being a rookie is that when you make those mistakes it's usually very public. And after the day we had its unfortunate because the guys did such a good job."
Charlie Kimball had a similar off-track spin into the dirt but was able to recover faster: "I pressured Tony Kanaan into a mistake for fifth," he said. "Not many people do that. I just went into the next corner pushing to get a gap but dropped a wheel, spun and ended up 11th."
Simon Pagenaud had his own scary moment earlier in the race on lap 34 when he came close to replicating the accident that had injured Justin Wilson and put Pagenaud in the car in the first place, running wide at turn 1 and bouncing across the undulating grass. Fortunately overnight work had done much to reduce the transition over the service road and so this time at least no harm was done to car or - more importantly - to driver.
But the final laps were pure frustration for Will Power and Ryan Briscoe, who did finally get past Ana Beatriz and made it to 14th and 16th respectively by the time the laps ran out, but had chiefly demonstrated just how difficult it is to overtake at Mid-Ohio. If the top cars struggle to overtake someone like Beatriz in a Dreyer and Reinbold, it's no surprise that the field was processional for much of the afternoon.
Which is not to underestimate how physical the road course is - it was certainly hard work, and Dixon's triumph is not to be underestimated. It's his 26th win in IndyCar but his first win this season, not having seen victory lane since claiming victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2010, and it has been long overdue as far as the Kiwi is concerned.
"I'm just excited for the team," he said. "Dario has obviously been doing a hell of a job this year, four wins and leading by too many points. So you know for us to have a nice, smooth weekend with the pole and obviously going on to win the race was good for the #9 car side, and hopefully we can carry on a bit of a trend and try to get back into the points chase, even though it's a long ways away."
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