Dixon dominates Phoenix IndyCar race
Scott Dixon dominated after taking the lead on a midrace caution and crossed the checkers under another yellow flag to win IndyCar's first race at Phoenix International Raceway in 11 years on Saturday night.
Dixon started ninth and took advantage of tire trouble for Team Penske's top two drivers to move within range of the lead on the fast mile oval. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver moved past teammate Tony Kanaan out of the pits and led the final 155 laps of IndyCar's first oval race of the season.
The win was Dixon's 39th of his career, tying him with Al Unser for fourth on IndyCar's all-time list.
Simon Pagenaud finished second and Will Power was third after missing the season opener in St. Petersburg with an ear infection. Kanaan finished fourth to give Chevy the top four spots and Honda driver Graham Rahal was fifth.
IndyCar returned to PIR for the first time since 2005 and the drivers faced a reconfigured-and-repaved track that was much faster than before.
Maybe too fast.
Drivers began breaking track records, at least unofficially, during a test in February and during the first practice session on Friday, when 16 of 22 drivers eclipsed Arie Luyendyk's 20-year-old record.
Six more drivers blew past the record during qualifying, led by pole sitter Helio Castroneves' lap of more than 192 mph.
With the race coming under the lights, the concern was that lower temperatures could lead to even more speed and dangerous conditions with little room to pass.
Instead of carnage, the race was mostly clean - except for Team Penske.
Castroneves led the first 39 laps, but dropped out after his right front tire blew out.
Juan Pablo Montoya took the lead when Castroneves was forced into the pits, then he suffered the same problem to the same tire and was forced to the pits after leading 56 laps.
"This is unbelievable," Montoya said on the radio as he pulled into his pit stall.
The Penske drivers worked their way back toward the front, but couldn't make up all the ground. Montoya finished ninth and Castroneves was 11th.
Dixon had no trouble with tires or anything else. He was the fastest car off pit road and to the starting line after a few more cautions, his lead never really challenged on the way to his 20th career win on an oval.