Dixon: ‘Erratic’ driving going unnoticed by IndyCar officials

Scott Dixon suffered his first DNF of 2021. Picture: Joe Skibinski

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon says “erratic and pretty crazy” driving is going unnoticed by IndyCar Series officials.

Dixon was an innocent victim in the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 after an incident on Lap 56 involving team-mate Alex Palou and Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay.

VeeKay, who earlier this year scored his first IndyCar Series win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, locked up the front left wheel and collided with Palou into Turn 1.

That resulted in the #10 spinning, the Spaniard’s front nose clipping the right rear of the #9 ahead and sending Dixon into the outside wall.

VeeKay in the #21 spun with Palou, the pair ending up facing each other nose-to-nose against the SAFER Barrier.

Dixon hit the wall gearbox-first before limping his way back to the pit lane for repairs, his car sporting significant rear end structural damage, a broken wing, and bent suspension.

Eventually, he retired from the 260-lap affair after 100 laps.

“I can’t thank the team enough,” Dixon said of his crew’s efforts to get his car race ready again.

“We even changed diffs. It broke the diff. We tried to fix everything that was wrong with the car, just see if we could get back out there.

“Obviously it took us almost 80 laps to fix it, so we ran until we could make up the spots that we could and that was it.

“Unfortunate. I feel really bad for myself and Alex. I don’t really know what VeeKay was trying to do there and obviously took us both out of the race.

“We’ll have to see if race control do anything about this. We’ve had some pretty erratic and pretty crazy driving this season. But it just seems to go unnoticed. We’ll see.

“But kudos to everybody on the PNC Bank car and everybody at Honda for digging deep there.

“Unfortunately that was a rough night.”

VeeKay was ambivalent about the incident but apologised for taking the two series protagonists out of the race.

“First of all, I’m very sorry for Alex and Scott,” said VeeKay.

“They were in a very good place in the championship, so I’m sorry for that.

“I had a really good restart. I got on the inside of Alex and behind Scott. I got into Turn 1 and I was really focusing on Scott, just to stay behind him.

“He kind of backs off and I try to slow down, but we’re in oval spec and I think just before I hit Scott I’m even locking up the fronts.

“Yeah, unfortunately everybody knows how it happened. I think just all night people have been checking up, which I think for everyone is pretty annoying.

“I tried to really get it slowed down and I just couldn’t get it to where I wanted to. I feel very sorry for everyone, but I think I cannot give myself a lot of blame for this.”

The Dixon/Palou/VeeKay incident was one of a slew in the 260-lapper which was won by Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden.

In all, just 13 cars finished on the lead lap, nine cars failing to finish – seven of those due to crashes.

Dixon came into the fourth-to-last round of the 2021 season 34 points adrift of the series lead formerly held by Palou.

Now that gap is out to 41 points with Pato O’Ward of McLaren SP the series leader.

Second place at Gateway Motorsports Park has seen the young Mexican turn his 21-point deficit into a 10-point advantage over Palou.

Despite the result, Dixon said there’s still plenty more time to make up the lost ground.

“It’s going to be tough obviously, but we’ve got to try and make the most of it,” said the six-time series winner.

“We’ll see how the rest of the races play out if we can have three strong races to finish the season out, we’re still in the fight there.

“Until we’re out, we’re not out. We’ll keep digging.”

The IndyCar Series continues on September 11-13 (AEST) with the Grand Prix of Portland.

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