Dixon Turns Tables on Sato for Narrow, Exciting Victory at WWT Raceway

MADISON, Ill. (Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020) – NTT INDYCAR SERIES points leader Scott Dixon continued his winning ways in 2020 by holding off a hard-charging Takuma Sato in thrilling fashion, winning the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 Race 1 at World Wide Technology Raceway on Saturday, Aug. 29 in the second-closest INDYCAR finish ever at the track.

Dixon, who started third, drove the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda to his 50th career win and fourth win in eight races this season with a .1404 margin of victory over Sato in the No. 30 ABeam Consulting Honda. That result turned the tables from the 104th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge last Sunday, when Sato held off Dixon for his second victory in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

RESULTS: Bommarito Automotive Group 500 Race 1

“It’s awesome,” Dixon said. “I can’t thank the PNC Bank crew enough. Superb race all day. Sato was going to be strong at the end, but I didn’t realize how strong he was coming. We were kind of going into a reserve mode, looking after the engine, and he was there with a head of steam. Just so happy for this team. Last week at Indianapolis was a bit of a bummer. So, it was nice to get a win.”

Dixon averaged 143.522 mph after starting third. Rounding out the top five behind Dixon and Sato were Pato O’Ward in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet, Colton Herta in the No. 88 Capstone Turbine #ShiftToGreen Honda and Marcus Ericsson in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

During the final round of pit stops on Lap 163, Dixon pitted from second, directly behind leader O’Ward, and beat O’Ward off pit road.

Dixon expanded his lead over O’Ward as the rest of the leaders cycled through green flag pit stops. Sato pitted from the lead with 25 laps to go as he attempted to overcut the leaders by staying out later than the rest of the field, handing the lead to Dixon for good on Lap 176. On that final stop, Sato was slowed slightly by a sluggish tire change.

But it wasn’t smooth sailing for Dixon. Sato, the defending winner at WWTR, merged back onto the 1.25-mile oval in third and started charging in his “no attack, no chance” style. Sato made a daring, outside pass of O’Ward for second in Turn 1 with 16 laps to go as he chased down Dixon.

Sato quickly caught the “Ice Man,” with the gap to the bright orange-and-blue machine getting as low as three tenths of a second in the closing laps. But Sato was unable to challenge Dixon for the top spot.

“Obviously, the team did a fantastic job,” Sato said. “From last week, we carried a lot of momentum. We lost some places at the beginning of the race. I wasn’t entirely comfortable in the car. But we were strong. Big congrats to Ganassi and (Scott) Dixon. Fantastic win. My ABeam car was phenomenal.”

Dixon remains third on the all-time wins list, but his 50th win closed the gap to second place Mario Andretti, who has 52 wins. A.J. Foyt is first with 67 wins.

“Fifty – that sounds awesome,” Dixon said. “We’ve got to keep on truckin’ and get a few more. But I can’t thank Honda and HPD enough. I’m proud to be powered by them and what they’ve done, especially this year, is just phenomenal, and how quick their cars have been.”

Dixon padded his championship lead to 117 points over reigning series champion Josef Newgarden, who finished 12th in the No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet.

The race started with an incident that damaged multiple cars.

As Will Power led the field to the green flag in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, the field bunched up behind him, resulting in a multi-car wreck just before the start-finish line.

Rookie Alex Palou in the No. 55 Guaranteed Rate Honda and 2016 series champion Simon Pagenaud in the No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet jumped out of line to avoid hitting the cars in front of them, resulting in a major pile-up.

Rookie Oliver Askew, driving the No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet, hit Pagenaud from behind and turned him into 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi in the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS / AutoNation Honda. The wreck also involved Marco Andretti in the No. 98 Oberto Specialty Meats / Circle K Honda, Ed Carpenter in the No. 20 United States Air Force Chevrolet and Zach Veach in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda.

Palou, whose car wasn’t damaged, and Askew received penalties for the incident.

Once the race went green on Lap 13, Power held the lead until a round of green flag pit stops on Lap 62, handing the lead to Dixon for the first time. 2020 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year O’Ward beat Dixon off pit road and led the race from Lap 68 through Lap 161.

Dixon will look to sweep the weekend at WWTR on Sunday with the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 Race 2 (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN). Qualifying for tomorrow’s race was held Saturday, and second-place finisher Sato will lead the field to green alongside Newgarden. Dixon will roll off the grid sixth.

‘What They’re Saying’ from Bommarito Automotive Group 500 Race 1

Top 10 Finishers

1st – SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “It’s awesome. I can’t thank the PNC Bank crew enough. Superb race all day. Sato was going to be strong at the end, but I didn’t realize how strong he was coming. We were kind of going into a reserve mode, looking after the engine, and he was there with a head of steam. Just so happy for this team. Last week at Indianapolis was a bit of a bummer. So, it was nice to get a win. Fifty – that sounds awesome. We’ve got to keep on truckin ’ and get a few more. But I can’t thank Honda and HPD enough. I’m proud to be powered by them and what they’ve done, especially this year, is just phenomenal, and how quick their cars have been. This is just awesome.”

2nd – TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 ABeam Consulting Honda): “Obviously, the team did a fantastic job. From last week, we carried a lot of momentum. We lost some places at the beginning of the race. I wasn’t entirely comfortable in the car. But we were strong. Big congrats to Ganassi and (Scott) Dixon. Fantastic win. My ABeam  car was phenomenal. Yeah, it was a great job.” (If not for problem in pit lane, was this race yours to win?): “It sometimes happens in a race. I make a mistake; there’s a mechanical failure sometimes. That pit stop was frustrating, but everybody is on the same team. The boys did a great job two weeks in a row. I’m very proud of them.”

3rd – PATO O’WARD (No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet): “I think we got some really solid points for the championship. We led quite a bit of the race, and in the end, I thought we had a clean, fast pit stop. My in and out laps were very strong, but (Scott) Dixon got us by a little bit. He’s a tough guy to beat. We had a very strong run, but I had nothing for Takuma (Sato) and Scott. I had to maintain where I was and salvage the podium from there. Tomorrow, we just have to work on the No. 5 Arrow  McLaren SP Chevrolet a little bit, and hopefully we can challenge for the win at the end.”

4th – COLTON HERTA (No. 88 Capstone Turbine #ShiftToGreen Honda): “It was a fairly straightforward race for me, honestly. We didn’t have a lot of passing but a really good  strategy. I tried to make the fuel number, keep my distance and save the front tires. We made an incredibly good fuel number with the Capstone car. We went the longest on the first stint then was able to go that much longer on every stint after. We caught the yellow, and that kind of gave us our break. We had good in and out laps, so we got around Marcus (Ericsson) in pit stop cycles, and that was pretty much it. I don’t think I made a single pass on track. Strategy and knowing how to save fuel efficiently will be important for tomorrow, along with overall racecraft around this place and how to follow cars – so I think we have some takeaways from today.”

5th – MARCUS ERICSSON (No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “Running that close to the podium, you want to be on that podium. The car is fast and I’m still learning. I thought it was a good day in general. We had a strong qualifying with my career-best qualifying result at P4. Then, we had a strong race. Obviously being that close to a podium was tempting, but still P5 is a good result for the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Honda. I think it was a good race and something we can build on for tomorrow.”

6th – RINUS VEEKAY (No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet): “Stellar race! We were on our way to the podium, I think, but that yellow kind of screwed me. I kept my chin up and had a great car to make passes with. The No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet was great in the second lane when there were no marbles. I’ve learned luck really isn’t our thing, but we did the best we could with the circumstances. It did get a little sketchy on the last run; I almost lost it a few times. It was 200 laps of experience today and some good points. I’m very happy and I am looking forward to tomorrow.”

7th – RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “We started eighth and finished seventh, so it may not look like much, but we really hung in there all day. Coming out of practice yesterday, we didn’t get any actual runs due to a brake issue, so to qualify eighth today was all right for us, and we really soldiered through the race. We went backwards on one strategy call, and the next one — going fast in clean track – worked, so it was a bit of a see-saw there. It was a really solid  day in the pits by the 28 DHL guys. I’m proud of them as they put in a lot of work. With our only real run time being today’s race, we’re taking away everything we can from today, and hopefully Race 2 tomorrow is better.”

8th– FELIX ROSENQVIST (No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “It was my best oval finish so far. We had a tough day yesterday. I thought we bounced back pretty well today. I’m a little disappointed because we had a better finish going, but then I screwed it up in one of the restarts. I got really loose in turn two and I was lucky that I got away with it because I was  really close to spinning there. There wasn’t much overtaking going on. The team had a great strategy. Every call was perfect. A P8 finish is definitely in the right direction.”

9th – TONY KANAAN (No. 14 Big Machine Vodka / AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Very good result for us. Best result for the team this year. Obviously, this place, I had a podium here last year. We have one more tomorrow. Awesome, awesome result. The guys had good pit stops. Thanks to Big Machine Vodka for the help and nice to see some fans in the stands, too. Emotional day for me — one more day, so I’ll see if I can sleep tonight. Good day for us.”

10th – CONOR DALY (No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet): “I think we had a great car today in the race with the No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet. Qualifying was a bit confusing for us. We aren’t really sure  where our pace went, but once we got to the race, we were fantastic, strong and able to pass cars. The rain was a huge factor for us – no idea where that came from. We were making all the right strategy calls and decided to pit a little early to undercut Colton (Herta). When we came out of the pits, we ran the three fastest laps of the race at that point, and then unfortunately there was the yellow for the rain. It just absolutely killed our race, and from then on, we were really just  trying to recover. We were able to still finish in the top 10, which is great for us, but I really think without the rain we could’ve been on the podium or at least in the top five since we were faster than Colton, who finished fourth. Thankfully, we know we have a fast car, and we get another chance tomorrow to do it again.”

Remainder of Drivers (alphabetical – with finishing position):

MARCO ANDRETTI (Finished 23rd– No. 98 Oberto Specialty Meats / Circle K Honda): “Sad to see the day end before it began for us. I saw everything happening in front of me and had the car whoa’d up. I got the car stopped, and then (Zach) Veach got into the back of me. Just really disappointed  for the Oberto Circle K boys. They’re working hard tonight on repairs, and we will look for a better day tomorrow.”

OLIVER ASKEW (Finished 14th– No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet): “A really rough start today. Everyone seemed to check up in front of me in the midfield and made some contact with the front wing. Luckily, the No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet crew were able to replace the wing and keep me on the lead lap. Our race was compromised from the start, but we salvaged what we could. I’m looking forward to tomorrow with a better starting position.”

ED CARPENTER (Finished 20th– No. 20 United States Air Force Chevrolet): “I am pretty bummed out. Second race in a row that I’ve been representing one of the Forces, the U.S. Air Force this weekend. I was basically out of the race before it started, also for the second race in a row. Zach Veach is the current theme right now. He obviously didn’t see the yellow flag or the bright yellow car spinning on the track.”

SANTINO FERRUCCI (Finished 16th – No. 18 SealMaster Honda): “With limited practice yesterday, it took me the first stint to get used to the car. We went with a different fuel strategy, which with a late caution, played in our favor. It put us up to 10th. We had a killer restart and moved into fifth. We rode there and things were looking real  promising until the final pit stop. We had a major mistake during the stop and ended up in the back of the field.”

JACK HARVEY (Finished 11th – No. 60 AutoNation / SiriusXM Honda):  “We were on track to have a really good day. We were running in either fourth or fifth for the first half of the race, and the car felt great; the guys had great stops. But when that yellow came out for rain, it really turned our race upside down. I’m still trying to wrap my head around why it was called since there wasn’t any rain that I saw on track. We’re doing everything we can to try and show up to races and be competitive. We know that we have a really good race car for tomorrow’s race, so we will focus on that and getting the result that we deserve.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (Finished 13th – No. 4 Tresiba / AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet):  “I feel pretty good about the race for the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet. Went off strategy early, it paid off with the yellow for the little bit of rain, got some track position and was able to hold that track position. On that last stop, the 14 and the 4, we kind of split strategies, so it felt really good to see them come in the top 10. We didn’t quite get the top 10 that was there, but had the yellow fallen right, we’d have had a really good  result. Great strategy, great pit stops all day long. We’ll figure out how to make the car better overnight and do it again tomorrow.”

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (Finished 12th – No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): “That was a frustrating race for the Hitachi team. That caution came out totally at the wrong time, and we lost all of  our track position and everything we’d worked for up to that point. The team had great stops, and we gained some positions on each of our first two pit stops. I think without the caution, we would have cycled out in the right position and been up there in the top three and got to battle it out. Instead, the caution ruined our day, and we were just fighting from behind. The Hitachi car was good, and Chevy brought some great power. Just nothing you can do when the caution falls. This just makes me more hungry to go out there tomorrow and win the race.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (Finished 19th – No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): “Definitely not fun out there. I just feel sorry for Chevy and for Menards. I think we had a good car today and never even got a chance to really test it for tomorrow. That was a little too much excitement for the start of the race at the back. The front of the pack slowed down; I don’t know if it was the accordion affect or whatever that was. We had to pull out of line, and  all of a sudden someone hit us from behind. It is what it is, but it’s very unfortunate. You aren’t going to win the race in the first corner. People just need to be more patient. We’ll be back tomorrow.”

ALEX PALOU (Finished 15th – No. 55 Guaranteed Rate Honda): “ The race didn’t start off like we wanted. I tried to avoid hitting the car in front of me as we were coming to take the green flag. They checked up in front of me, and I pulled out of line to avoid contact, but I still got penalized for pulling out of line before the green. Because of that, we got sent to the back and started last. From there, we just tried to make our way back up. We were a bit lucky with the yellow and made it back to the top 10. However, on the last restart, I lost some places. We tried to go long before our last pit stop , hoping that a caution would come out, but it didn’t go our way. Tomorrow we have another race, and the No. 55 Guaranteed Rate car is really strong, so I’m looking forward to it.”

WILL POWER (Finished 17th– No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “That was not the race that Verizon, Chevrolet or my team deserved out there today. Our car was pretty good. It was really hard  to get close to guys and hard to pass when you got around them. A lot of us were just running the same speed. So, when it’s like that, it’s all about track position, and we lost ours with that caution. The race was over after that. Then we had a tire go down, and that was that. We just have to go back after it tomorrow at this point.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (Finished 18th – No. 15 United Rentals Honda): “I’m clearly disappointed with the end result . I thought that after the start, when a lot of our competitors were involved in that crash, I thought that maybe we would have a good day and be able to put our heads down and work through things, but, instead, on Lap 29 we had GCU problems. Somehow a napkin got in there and lodged itself in the GCU cooling tube and overheated one and then overheated another. Unfortunately, it was just one of those days that we struggled with the chassis handling but also just had poor luck with sucking up a napkin. It’s certainly frustrating and disappointing, but there is always tomorrow.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (Finished 22nd – No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS / AutoNation Honda):  “I thought at least a top five was possible, and we didn’t even get to do 100 feet. There’s just no way around the disappointment. I was going in a straight line (coming to the green) and just got drilled. We just got hit. It sucks, really. Everything about this year has felt like a disaster, so we will see the rest of it goes. Fortunately, Ryan (Hunter-Reay) and Colton (Herta) were on a similar kind of setup as to what I was on, and the race went OK for them, so we’ll take what we can from that for tomorrow. We still want to win races, and that’s what we are here for. It’s very frustrating for the NAPA AUTO PARTS / AutoNation boys. But in the big scheme of things, there’s a lot bigger issues in the world right now in 2020, so this is relatively minor, but it still sucks.”

ZACH VEACH (Finished 21st- No. 26 Gainbridge Honda):  “The situation with (Simon) Pagenaud on the start, I think I had a better run than a lot of the guys in front of me, and I was faced with the decision to either hit Pagenaud head-on or get to the bottom. The bottom was moving, but unfortunately those guys got on the brakes at the same time I did. But for whatever reason, I couldn’t get the car stopped. I got to the (brake) pedal and I pumped it – by that time I was too close to stop the car and struggled to get the brakes engaged. I hate it for the people involved, and, obviously, it makes us look a little stupid. A big thank you to my Gainbridge  crew for fixing what they could so quickly and get us back out there for a shakedown. It’s frustrating. It looks bad, but I physically couldn’t have done anything else to slow the car down. For those that were involved, they understand, but from the outside, it doesn’t look as good as it is.”