NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Scott Dixon overtook Mario Andretti for second on IndyCar’s all-time winners list with a victory in Sunday’s chaotic Music City Grand Prix that put him within reach of a record-breaking seventh series championship.
Dixon overcame a poor qualifying performance, damage to his Chip Ganassi Racing car, a crash fest on the streets of downtown Nashville and finally a drag race against Scott McLaughlin in a two-lap push to the finish. He won for the 53rd time in his career breaking a tie with Andretti for second place in the perpetual column.
More importantly, with three races remaining, Dixon moved up six points to second in the points standings and Trail Series leader Will Power. Another title would tie him to AJ Foyt with a record seven championships.
Foyt is also IndyCar’s all-time winner with 67 wins.
McLaughlin for Team Penske finished second, earning a one-two for the New Zealand riders.
The 0.1067 second lead was the fourth closest in IndyCar history on a street or street course.
“He’s a legend, the GOAT,” said McLaughlin. “I always dreamed of driving to the finish line with him. That was a real duel.”
Alex Palou, the reigning IndyCar champion, was third while Ganassi had two drivers on the podium.
Palou moved up one spot to fifth in the standings as 33 points separate the title contenders. On the way to victory, team owner Chip Ganassi stopped to congratulate Palou, the driver he’s suing for trying to leave the organization at the end of the season.
Alexander Rossi and Colton Herta both came back a lap down in fourth and fifth for Andretti Autosport, while home driver Josef Newgarden finished sixth.
Newgarden had had a tough stretch since his crash in the lead in Iowa three races ago. Leading the standings before the crash, he collapsed and hit his head after a wreck and had to pass a series of medical tests to be eligible to compete in Indianapolis last weekend.
In Nashville, he reduced his pre-race commitments to rest and drive to victory. Despite being the leader late in the race, Newgarden had to pit to refuel and later had contact with Romain Grosjean, who was furious with Newgarden after the collision.
“Welcome to IndyCar. It’s getting tight. I don’t know what to tell him,” Newgarden said. “Let me tell you what, I’ve been kicked out about six times myself.”
Pato O’Ward was the biggest loser in the race, slowing 10 times in 36 of the 80 laps in its sophomore year. The launch was also delayed by 90 minutes due to rain and lightning in the area.
O’Ward came into Nashville fifth overall but dropped to seventh place and probably retired from the championship with a 24th place finish. He was drilled from behind by Graham Rahal as O’Ward slowed on track to avoid running into power on lap 26.
“I only have two paddles and a kill switch. None of that works,” O’Ward said after being hit. “Thank you, Graham Rahal. We can’t take a damn break. That’s a joke.”
It was a similarly difficult day for defending champion Marcus Ericsson, who was just nine points behind Power at the start of the race. But like teammate Dixon, Ericsson had a poor qualifying performance and struggled to get through the field from 18th place.
He finished 14th, dropping to third overall. The Indianapolis 500 winner is 12 points behind Power.