MONTEREY, Calif. — It was a race reminiscent of IndyCar’s debut on the streets of Nashville in 2021, Scott Dixon, with the ice water still running through his veins at age 43, overcame the odds and won the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey to close out the 2023 NTT IndyCar Series season.
Along with that his teammate, Alex Palou, was presented with the Astor Cup for claiming the series championship the week prior at Portland.
“It was a wild day,” Dixon said. “The restarts were very tough. There were a lot of crashes in the last corner unfortunately with some restarts. It was a tough race. But it worked out for us.”
Dixon had many obstacles to navigate through throughout the race, in fact even beforehand. His team was penalized six starting spots from where he qualified for making an unapproved engine change. He qualified 5th, but had to start 11th.
Pole sitter Felix Rosenqvist led the field to the green flag only to go right to the first of what would be many cautions on the day. A five-car pile-up caused a ton of chaos right around where Dixon was running at the start. He was able to navigate through the carnage.
“I was trying to accelerate,” Dixon said. “(Colton Herta) was right beside me. (Rinus Veekay) was maybe off track, coming back on track, then we connected.”
The damage was minimal to the #9-car and Dixon continued on. A stroke of luck came on Lap 58. Palou was leading and near the near of his fuel stint when yet another caution, the fifth of eight on the day, came out with David Malukas and Devlin DeFrancesco connecting.
Unlike the week before when race control waited for everyone to pit before throwing the caution, race officials immediately threw the caution before Palou could pit to stay on strategy. The caution would cost Palou the lead and would leap Dixon into the top spot on yet another aggressive fuel-saving strategy,
“All in all, great day,” Dixon said. “It’s nice to rebound like we did. Definitely some heated moments throughout the race. Pretty pissed off at times. It’s always nice to finish the year like that.”
The win was Dixon’s first ever at Laguna Seca in his long career. It’s also his third of the year and his 55th career win. Scott McLaughlin came home second and Palou was able to scratch a third-place finish and his tenth podium of the season.
“I’m a bit sad that this season is over honestly,” Palou said. “Because it seems like we go out on track, we know that we have a chance to win the races. I wanted to win, honestly, to celebrate more.”
Palou clinched the championship at Portland last week and celebrated his title alongside his Chip Ganassi teammate. Palou won five races, earning 10 podiums, and he finished in the top ten in all 17 races.
As a team, Ganassi drivers between Marcus Ericsson, Dixon, and Palou won nine of the 17 races this season.
With the conclusion of the season now here, drivers will take the winter off to recharge and regroup for the 2024 season which begins in March. IndyCar has yet to release its final 2024 schedule.
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