Scott Dixon and his Chip Ganassi Racing crew played a tactical game in a bid to overhaul the leaders in the Kohler Grand Prix, but this time the championship leader admitted there was a little too much time to make up after finishing third behind Josef Newgarden and Ryan Hunter-Reay.
“I think had we started a little further up, we could have had a good shot at trying to fight for the win today,” said Dixon, who started eighth. “The PNC Bank car had good speed. Had a bit of a crack at Hunter-Reay on his out lap on the last stint there, but cooked it too much going into [Turn] 14, got a bit loose, lost momentum. That would have been really the only chance of passing him.
“We tried to undercut the leaders on reds. We thought it might have been quite good. Still, getting up to speed on the out lap is not as fast as your rolling lap, even at the end of the stint.”
Dixon thinks IndyCar’s current aero package for Road America could still do with a little tweaking.
“The hard part with this aero kit is that the trim levels are pretty coarse. It’s not really fine-tuning,” he noted. “I think that’s good, because sometimes people just get it really wrong — and we saw that today.
“I don’t know. I’m still not totally sold on the low-downforce situation. I think the front wing needs to go through a bit of change to make the racing a little bit better. It seems like it’s quite inefficient in traffic. I know everybody’s working on that and looking at that for the future.”
Meanwhile, Dixon seems to continues to consistently gain ground after pit stops. How does he do it?
“I think it’s something our team focuses on a lot, pit stops. It’s something for me as a driver, you can pick up spots very easy — easier to do it in the pits than out on the track,” he mused. “Phoenix was the first big one this year — we had a horrible qualifying, but gained several spots on the first pit stop. That was pretty significant.
“Yeah, I think they’re just extremely consistent,” he said of the Ganassi crew. “They’re not trying anything fancy, they’re just making sure they get through it. Over the course of a race, that really adds up.”
And with Chevrolet driver Newgarden winning, but Honda-powered drivers taking the next five spots at Road America, Dixon feels the manufacturer battle is well balanced.
“I think they’re pretty evenly matched, to be honest, at the minute. They [Chevy] do it in a different way. I think the Honda’s fuel mileage and general race power is strong. Peak power on the other side is maybe a little bit better. On the long straights here, we saw them come back, whereas at Detroit they struggled a lot more with the midrange.
“Yeah, I think outside of the Penske cars, the other manufacturers struggled pretty big this weekend, which is good for the Honda camp. Hopefully it carries on throughout the rest of the season.”