After that, it was just a matter of seeing whether anyone was going to run dry on fuel before the finish line, with Simon Pagenaud looking the most at risk for last minute heartbreak as he'd come in a lap earlier than the cars in front and they themselves were still nervous about being able to make it all the way home.
"I was saving heaps of fuel on that last stint to finish the race," admitted Pagenaud afterwards.
There was indeed no final sting in the tail for any of the leaders, with Dixon well in front by over three seconds at the end to claim his fourth win in the last six races at Mid-Ohio.
"I think it definitely helped we had an open pit and Will had to come around us," he said in victory lane when asked for the secret of his success. "I think if you look at the replay I hit the marks before he even did, that's just how it goes now and then.
"Everyone thought we would be pitting at the exact same time and same place on the track so I got a good in," he continued. "The guys in the crew did a fantastic time plugging in the fuel and getting the tires changed, big credit to them. Its just one of those perfect moments. Got the jump on him out of the pits and the rest was certain."
"These are such tight pit boxes here, and he had a clean in," agreed Power. "We had a tight in so some of that was me getting in. It's hard for the fuel to get in clean because he has to step back from my front wing to swing in. Still it's a very good points day."
However, Bourdais had a scare on lap 66 when he ran wide and off onto the wet grass: he was able to get right back on the track, but it meant that Pagenaud was able to steal third place from him, while Bourdais himself held on to fourth ahead of the best of the three-stoppers - Hinchcliffe and Kanaan, all the way from 15th and 18th on the grid.
"That was probably the toughest race of the year running, flat out every lap at this track," said Hinchcliffe. "I think I had more fun than anyone but Dixon. It was like a qualifying lap every lap. We ran some good lap times and I'm just happy to bounce back after what happened in qualifying."
Kanaan was equally pleased with his weekend's work. "I am very happy with today's result," he said. "The car was very good in the race. We went with a three stop strategy and despite no yellow flags we made it work. It was a very physical race with no cautions. Now we have to build on this over the last few races."
Ryan Briscoe pulled off a nice overtaking move on Marco Andretti on the final lap to claim seventh place, while JR Hildebrand and Alex Tagliani rounded out the top ten. Giorgio Pantano finished a strong 14th place as a late substitute for an injured Charlie Kimball, in his first outing at Mid-Ohio or in the new DW12-spec car.
"I want to thank the whole Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing crew because they just gave me a perfect car today," said the Italian. "Unfortunately, I need to learn more about the car. I think I need to shake out a few things but I did as much as I could today."