Scott Dixon rebounded from a tough opening race at St. Petersburg to dominate the last three-fifths of the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix and took his 39th career win.
As the sun continued to set behind the Turn 1 grandstand, the field of 22 Verizon IndyCar Series drivers took the green flag for the series’ much-anticipated return to Phoenix International Raceway.
Helio Castroneves shot out to an early lead, pulling Tony Kanaan with him as they stretched a gap to third-place Juan Pablo Montoya.
On Lap 23, Montoya passed Kanaan for second and began to chase down leader Castroneves. On Lap 40, Castroneves slowed and ran wide through Turn 1, allowing Montoya through as the new leader. Castroneves continued slowing and made it to pit lane with a flat right-front tire.
A spin by Luca Filippi in Turn 4 brought slowed the action on Lap 50. Filippi, racing his first career oval, did not made no contact and was able to get restarted and rejoin the race at the rear of the field.
Pits were open on Lap 52 with the leaders coming in for stops. Newgarden had a slow stop due to a fueling issue. Montoya got off pit road first followed by Scott Dixon in second, Kanaan in third, Will Power in fourth, and Ryan Hunter-Reay in fifth.
On Lap 65, Montoya led on the restart but experienced a similar issue as Castroneves with a flat right-front tire on Lap 96. He pits from the lead and hands it to Scott Dixon, who would keep it for the remaining 155 laps.
The next caution came out on Lap 120 with Carlos Munoz making contact on the front stretch. The pits opened on Lap 122 with Dixon, Power, Kanaan, Ed Carpenter, and Charlie Kimball the top five off pit road.
On Lap 133, the race went back to green but only briefly with the yellow flag thrown again on Lap 134 with Kimball turned around after light contact with Josef Newgarden. Kimball was assessed a drive-through penalty for avoidable contact.
The restart came on Lap 142 with Scott Dixon continuing to lead with Power in second and Kanaan in third. The next caution came after a few laps with Sebastien Bourdais making light contact with the outer SAFER Barrier in Turn 4 on Lap 146. Bourdais was able to continue on course.
The field took the green again on Lap 153 with Scott Dixon out front followed by Power and Kanaan. The race fell into a rhythm until the fifth caution flag flew on Lap 196 for Caprenter stopped against the wall on the frontstretch after making contact with the SAFER Barrier in Turn 4.
The pits opened on Lap 199 with the leaders choosing to make stops under caution. Dixon was first off pit road followed by Pagenaud, Power, Rahal, and Chilton.
The restart on Lap 209 was again led by Dixon followed by Simon Pagenaud. By Lap 225, the top five were Dixon, Pagenaud, Power, Kanaan, and Graham Rahal.
The order would remain unchanged through he sixth and final caution for Alexander Rossi on Lap 248. Rossi made contact with the wall in Turn 4 and continued on course.
The field was shown simultanous white and yellow flags and Scott Dixon took the checkered flag under caution to win the Verizon IndyCar Series’ return to Phoenix International Raceway. The win marks the 101st for Chip Ganassi Racing and gives Dixon a victory in 12 consecutive seasons.
The next race for the Verizon IndyCar Series is the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 17, 2016.