Scott Dixon barely broke a sweat during qualifications for the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Not advancing to the second round, he started 20th in the 110-lap season opener on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit.
But he steadily progressed through the field -- gaining nine positions by Lap 23, running ninth on Lap 63 and moving to fifth following the final round of pit stops (under caution) on Lap 74 -- in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car.
In sixth position with 10 laps left, Dixon was in fuel save mode and waiting for the opportunity to overtake any cars whose tires were wearing or driver who made a mistake. The former occurred on the final lap as Dixon got around the No. 78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy car driven by Simona de Silvestro for fifth place.
All in all, not a bad way to kick off the 19-race season for the two-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion who is a three-time race runner-up at St. Petersburg.
“The Target car was generally pretty good; we were just trying to get good fuel mileage and look after the tires. The yellows didn’t really fall our way. We went a little bit off-sequence there at the end, but what killed us was the left waste gate on the turbo broke so I had no boost. I was just getting killed on straight-line speed and they just all got past me on the final restarts.”
Also advancing 15 positions was E.J. Viso in the No. 5 Team Venezuela/Andretti Autosport/HVM car in his first race with Andretti Autosport. He finished seventh.
"I am extremely happy finishing seventh after a very difficult beginning of the weekend with so many mechanical issues in the practice and qualifying," he said. "It’s been tough to survive and make it to here, but the team did a great job to get me a very competitive car and give me all the tools to stay battling in the field.
"I’m feeling good about this year; I think we will be able to achieve good positions."
Also of note, Sebastien Bourdais moved up 10 positions in the No. 7 Dragon Racing car; Ed Carpenter improved nine spots to finish 14th in the No. 20 Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka car; Alex Tagliani gained seven spots to finish 10th in the No. 98 Barracuda Racing car; and Tony Kanaan improved seven positions to finish fourth in the No. 11 Hydroxycut KV Racing Technology-SH car.