CHICAGO: New Zealand’s Scott Dixon stretched his IndyCar season points lead Sunday by taking his first victory of the campaign, holding off Josef Newgarden to win the Road America Grand Prix. Dixon, a four-time season champion, won his 41st career IndyCar race and first since last September at Watkins Glen. “I’m so happy. This is so awesome,” Dixon said. “Everything went just right.” It was also Dixon’s first win in the 55-lap feature over the 4.014-mile (6.46km), 14-turn countryside road circuit at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. American Newgarden was second with Brazilian pole sitter Helio Castroneves third, reigning series champion Simon Pagenaud of France fourth and 2016 Road America winner Will Power of Australia fifth. The 36-year-old Kiwi boosted his lead in the drivers’ standings with 379 points, moving from 13 to 34 points clear of Pagenaud with Castroneves third, falling from 20 to 37 points back.
Castroneves, who settled for his 13th podium finish since last winning in 2014 at Detroit, pulled ahead at the start while Newgarden passed Power to move into second. Newgarden passed Castroneves on lap 20 to seize the lead and kept the edge through the second set of pit stops, Dixon moving into second with faster refueling. Japan’s Takuma Sato, last month’s Indianapolis 500 winner, spun out to set up a lap-31 restart that saw Dixon seize the lead in the first turn and Castroneves also took advantage, pushing Newgarden to third.
“That’s where we won the race,” Dixon said. Newgarden overtook Castroneves in the final pit stops, moving just behind Dixon after Brazil’s Tony Kanaan crashed to set up a restart with seven laps remaining. On the restart, Dixon pulled away quickly and held off Newgarden to the checkered flag. “Honda power gave me a good punch to get over the line,” Dixon said. “Stinks a little bit we didn’t get the win but we ran well,” Newgarden said. “I think we were quicker than him but not quicker enough that we could get him on the restart.” Seven of 17 races remain this season, the next of them an oval event July 9 at Newton, Iowa.