Scott Dixon

Scott Dixon has many first-time moments during his illustrious NTT INDYCAR SERIES career. Sunday’s 108th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge will be another, but this first will pose quite a challenge.

Dixon’s four-lap qualifying average of 231.851 mph in his No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda earned him the 21st starting position, the worst of his 22 Indianapolis 500 starts. No driver has won the “500” from the spot since Fred Frame in 1924.

But if there’s anyone who can overcome this obstacle, it’s Dixon. He climbed from the 15th starting spot in the 2012 Indianapolis 500 to lead 53 laps and finish second. Just last season at World Wide Technology Raceway, Dixon climbed from 16th to lead a race-high 123 of 260 laps, winning the race by 22.2256 seconds.

An unlikely win for Dixon from 21st would end a significant dry spell for the six-time series champion. He has just one win in his 21 starts, in 2008.

But “The Iceman” knows how to get to the front. Dixon’s has led 665 career laps, the all-time race record.

Still, the losses sting just as much – if not more – than the lone victory and laps led record satisfy. It’s been 16 years since he has tasted the milk on the Victory Podium.

“There was no way that (Takuma) Sato was going to finish on fuel unless a caution happens,” Dixon said the 2020 Indianapolis 500 victory that got away. “So those ones are hard.”

Dixon started second that day and led a race-high 111 of 200 laps. He was in control until relinquishing the top spot to Sato when Sato undercut Dixon’s strategy by pitting for his final stop on Lap 168. Sato stretched his fuel just enough before the Lap 196 caution while he held a one-second lead over Dixon.

Dixon also singled out pit road as a tumultuous area in 2021 and again in 2022. The 2021 race saw Dixon caught out by an ill-timed caution on Lap 33, which saw him forced to enter a closed pit road for an emergency stop for fuel. He also stalled on that stop.

By the time the car was refired, Dixon rejoined the field in 32nd place, one lap down. He rebounded to finish 17th.

In 2022, he won the pole and led 95 laps before speeding on pit road during his final stop on Lap 175. That relegated him to 21st in the end.

The other races he felt got away were those he finished runner-up to Dario Franchitti, in 2007 and 2012.

In 2007, Dixon started on pole, was the fastest driver in three practice sessions and led 11 laps during the race. In 2012, Dixon led as late as Lap 198 before being passed by Franchitti on Lap 199. The duo traded the lead 10 times in the final 41 laps.

Dixon also led 73 laps but finished sixth in 2009. He led 73 more laps in a fifth-place run in 2011. He was on pole and led 83 laps in 2015 but finished fourth. He won the pole in 2017 but had a frightening crash not of his doing in Turn 1 that year and came home 32nd.

Last year, he qualified sixth, but suffered through a rough-handling race car in the first stint, dropping him like an anchor. He eventually charged back to finish sixth.

Sunday is another opportunity to become the 21st driver to win multiple Indianapolis 500’s. He’s flying under the radar in prime Dixon fashion.