Illustration for article titled IndyCar Championship Grows Tighter As Scott Dixon Makes Rare Mistake At Mid-Ohio

Photograph: Stacy Revere (Getty Photographs)

Scott Dixon is such a clean driver that it leaves folks asking if he’s really human—however a troublesome weekend at Mid-Ohio confirmed that even the mighty can stumble. He’s retained the IndyCar championship for the reason that first race of the season at Texas Motor Speedway, however this weekend has closed the broad hole he’d constructed. Now, Workforce Penske driver Josef Newgarden is legitimately inside combating distance.

Saturday’s race—the primary of the doubleheader weekend—was a reasonably easy one. Will Energy certified on pole place and led his technique to the win. It was a a lot comparable day for everybody else in that many drivers began close to the place they completed—except for Scott Dixon. Dixon certified 17th and 10th, operating a reasonably mediocre race. 20 factors had been shaved off his factors complete with Newgarden ending second, however it will have been simply advantageous had it been a one-off for Dixon.

Sadly, it wasn’t.

Sunday’s race was a wild one. It poured rain at Mid-Ohio within the morning, and whereas the monitor had dried, the grass and gravel remained moist. Anybody who dipped a wheel off the monitor would lose it and take a spin by the grass—one thing made apparent proper from the beginning. Colton Herta and Santino Ferrucci certified side-by-side on the entrance row, with the latter driver touching the grass and going for a spin. Ferrucci returned to the monitor and clipped two different drivers, ending their day. Ferrucci was in a position to proceed racing.

Rookie Dalton Kellett had the identical downside, beaching himself within the gravel within the course of. Marco Andretti went by a protracted trip by the grass, in a position to return to the monitor. And so did Dixon.

Dixon had certified third and appeared set to overhaul each Ferrucci and Herta on the restart, however it wasn’t to be. The driving force was left battling Ryan Hunter-Reay for fourth place. Whereas the 2 drivers made slight contact, they had been in a position to proceed racing.

After which Dixon dropped a wheel off the monitor. He spun, managing to keep away from making contact with another drivers within the course of. All the grid handed him by as he tried to proper himself, and Dixon slowed even additional after he drove right into a mud patch. The New Zealander was in a position to proceed racing, however he was compelled to take action from the very rear of the grid.

It was a horrible mistake for a championship chief to make, particularly as his lead has now shrunk even additional. Sure, Dixon got here residence in 10th, however with Newgarden ending larger, the N0. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing driver can’t afford to make these errors. He entered the weekend with a 96 level lead over Newgarden. He leaves with that hole shrunk all the way down to a mere 71 factors. With a race win price 50 factors, it’s nonetheless possible that Newgarden might with this.

“I obtained a little bit aggressive, hit the overtake, and obtained a little bit an excessive amount of energy, spun the tires and spun the automotive. It was such a silly rookie mistake. It ought to have been a straightforward factors day,” Dixon mentioned after the race.

“It’d be good to go to St. Pete with out having to fret about [the championship],” he added, stating that two wins on the upcoming doubleheader might handle issues.

It’s onerous to think about Dixon struggling like this throughout the remainder of the season, however as this season has proven, something is feasible. Who is aware of what first-lap chaos the Harvest Grands Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will convey? Dixon nonetheless has a grasp on the Astor Cup this season, however with a number of extra races just like the Mid-Ohio doubleheader, Newgarden may be capable of pry it from his arms.

One other large speaking level of the race was Colton Herta’s win from pole place. With Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay taking residence second and third, it was the primary Andretti podium sweep in 15 years.