MONTEREY, Calif. – When the going gets most chaotic, nobody in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES finds a smooth path to Victory Lane better than Scott Dixon.
Dixon did it again Sunday, overcoming a starting grid penalty and an early on-track penalty and adapting strategy to multiple caution periods to win the season-ending Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. It was the third win of the season and 56th career INDYCAR SERIES victory for six-time series champion Dixon, who won on this 11-turn, 2.238-mile circuit for the first time.
SEE: Race Results
“A credit to this team,” Dixon said. “They’ve been executing like that all year. We got caught up in some mayhem at the start. I definitely didn’t agree with the (penalty) call, but I haven’t seen all of it yet. But I had nowhere to go. But we won; that’s all that matters. We won.”
Dixon’s No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda crossed the finish line 7.3180 seconds ahead of the No. 3 XPEL Team Penske Chevrolet of runner-up Scott McLaughlin for his third victory in the last four races of the season. Alex Palou finished third in the No. 10 The American Legion Honda to close out his championship season with Chip Ganassi Racing.
Two-time series champion Will Power finished fourth in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, with Callum Ilott rounding out the top five in the No. 77 Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet.
Marcus Armstrong was the top rookie finisher, eighth in the No. 11 Ridgeline Lubricants of Chip Ganassi Racing. That was enough to clinch Rookie of the Year honors for New Zealand native Armstrong and helped CGR achieve the unprecedented feat of taking the top two spots in the standings, with Palou and Dixon, and winning the Rookie of the Year title.
Chevrolet edged Honda by just 12 points to win the Manufacturers Championship for the second consecutive season.
The first hurdle for Dixon to scale came before the green flag flew to start the race. His CGR team was penalized six spots on the starting grid for an unapproved engine change after the morning warmup, so Dixon dropped from his qualifying spot of fifth to 11th at the start.
That lower starting spot put Dixon in the middle of mayhem that erupted near the front and throughout the midfield on Lap 1. Five cars were officially counted as part of the multiple collisions and jostling in Turn 2.
Dixon’s car veered hard right in traffic exiting the calamity…