2022 IndyCar at Nashville results: Scott Dixon drives from 14th to win Big Machine Music City Grand Prix

Scott Dixon
USATSI

The Big Machine Music City Grand Prix got off to a slow start at Nashville thanks to a rain delay, but the IndyCar field made up for things quickly, and by the finish the Iceman moved past one legend and got a spot closer to another on the all-time series wins list.

Through it all -- the eight cautions, the multiple cars falling out to bent bodywork and bruised egos, and carrying his own car that was suffering with a wounded differential -- Scott Dixon just kept his head down, driving from 14th to win at Nashville on Sunday, moving him one past Mario Andretti with his 53rd win. Still up the road a ways from Dixon is the legendary A.J. Foyt, who has 67 career victories.

It was bumpy, twisty, twitchy and slick, but it was also entertaining as the rain threw a wrench into strategies by washing away the rubber on the track and making things even more slippery -- and the number of cautions kept changing those plans.

Early on it was another New Zealander, Scott McLaughlin, who was in control at the front as the Team Penske driver opened up a 1.7-second lead on Andretti Autosport's Romain Grosjean.

But Nashville being Nashville, the first of many cautions started coming out. And, as yellows breed other yellows in racing, the race got into a rhythm were it would only go about 11 laps under green before another caution would come out. 

Much like Marcus Ericsson did in last year's race -- coming from 18th to win -- Dixon found himself at the front thanks to some heady driving and great strategy calls, then he survived two late cautions and a red flag stoppage to hold off McLaughlin in a two-lap sprint, McLaughlin just managing to miss pipping Dixon at the finish as they drag raced to the finish line.

"We were worried about him because I knew he would take chances," Dixon said of McLaughlin to indycar.com. "He had fresh tires, too. I was a sitting duck. If there had been a lap or two more, it would have been really tough to do."

For his part, McLaughlin was excited that he finally had the chance to race Dixon to the finish.

"We were alongside there across the finish line," McLaughlin said. "Just fell short at the end. Congrats to Scotty. Always dreamed of racing him to the finish. That was a proper duel."

The win moves Dixon (444 points) into second behind Will Power (450) for the driver's title with three races remaining -- the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at Gateway on Aug. 20, the Grand Prix of Portland on Sept. 4 and the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey on Sept. 11. Marcus Ericsson (438) managed to slip only a spot to third, followed by Josef Newgarden (428), the defending series champion and third-place Nashville finisher Alex Palou (417), and McLaughlin (392).

Finishing order

  1. Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing
  2. Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske 
  3. Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing
  4. Alexander Rossi, Andretti Autosport
  5. Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport
  6. Josef Newgarden, Team Penske
  7. Felix Rosenqvist, Arrow McLaren SP
  8. Christian Lundgaard, Rahal Letterman Lanigan
  9. Simon Pagenaud, Meyer Shank Racing
  10. Jack Harvey, Rahal Letterman Lanigan
  11. Will Power, Team Penske
  12. Rinus VeeKay, Ed Carpenter Racing
  13. Helio Castroneves, Meyer Shank Racing
  14. Marcus Ericsson, Chip Ganassi Racing
  15. Callum Ilott, Juncos Hollinger
  16. Romain Grosjean, Andretti Autosport
  17. Conor Daly, Ed Carpenter Racing
  18. Jimmie Johnson, Chip Ganassi Racing
  19. Kyle Kirkwood, A.J. Foyt Enterprises
  20. David Malukas, Dale Coyne Racing
  21. Takuma Sato, Dale Coyne Racing
  22. Devlin DeFrancesco, Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport
  23. Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan
  24. Pato O'Ward, Arrow McLaren SP
  25. Dalton Kellett, A.J. Foyt Enterprises
  26. Simona De Silvestro, Paretta Autosport

What we learned

Chip Ganassi Racing is a resilient bunch. Even with all the chirping the team can hear -- and they do hear it, regardless if they say they don't -- over the CGR vs. Alex Palou suit, they have been able to get on with business and not just compete, but win.

This is two wins for Dixon now, and his challenge for a seventh driver's title is a real one. Then there's Ericsson, who is still hanging around in the fight himself. Nashville could have been a disaster, but the Swede came through it. Finally, Palou must be commended for how he has handled everything as well. He put on a terrific display of professionalism and even earned a "congratulations, good job" from Chip Ganassi, who reportedly has not said two words to him, at the finish.

Still, you get the feeling the road to the driver's title will go through the Team Penske garage. If McLaughlin can show some of the confidence and speed he has on temporary street circuits at the remaining three races (a short oval and two natural road courses), he just might elbow his way to the front, but odds are Power and Newgarden are going to be standing in his way.

Finally, Christian Lundgaard at Rahal Letterman Lanigan said his goal at Nashville was to prove that the Gallagher Grand Prix podium he had was no fluke, and while he only finished 10th, the message has gotten through. RLL looked rejuvenated, and it will be exciting to see if they can carry this for a strong, consistent finish of the season.

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Scott Dixon holds on as Scott McLaughlin tries to sweep around him at the finish line in a drag race finish!

Alex Palou is third.

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At the front Dixon is a half-second ahead of McLaughlin.

McLaughlin catching Dixon.

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The restart line and the finish line are in different spots here. The field will go green with about 1-1/2 laps to go.

Dixon gets a strong start, and Palou jumps from fourth to take third on the rookie Lundgaard, who is now passed by Rossi and Herta.

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Still yellow with two laps to go now.

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Three laps and Dixon is the leader followed by McLaughlin and Lundgaard. 

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Field is back to yellow and the pace car is leading the cars back out with three laps to go. The top eight cars are on the Firestone "blacks" with Rosenqvist and Harvey in ninth and 10th on the "greens."

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Grosjean is into the wall and that will be the eighth caution. Looks like the field tried to make three of four cars work where two are more comfortable. Looks like Newgarden gave Grosjean a subtle little hit and sent him into the wall.

Race control has thrown the red flag. Dixon will lead the field down pit lane and stop things there.

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Green-green-green with five laps to go and it's Dixon leading Lundgaard, McLaughlin, Palou, Grosjean, Herta, Rossi, Newgarden, Harvey and Pagenaud in the top 10.

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Seven cautions now as Jimmie Johnson is into the wall with eight laps to go. 

"Car's destroyed," Johnson radios his pit crew. 

From the replay, Johnson's car got upset going over the bumps off the transition from the bridge to the street and just got turned around and went into the wall backwards.

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Green-green-green with 11 laps to go with Dixon leading followed by Lundgaard, Palou, Herta, McLaughlin, Grosjean, Rossi, Power and Newgarden.

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Newgarden is pitting from the lead for fuel and some Firestone blacks. Clearly didn't have enough to make it to the finish.

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The sixth caution is out and it's the rookies who brought it out. Malukas and Kirkwood are into each other and the wall, a real shame considering how well they were both running.

It will be the seventh DNF for Kirkwood this season, who is leaving A.J. Foyt Enterprises for Andretti Autosport at the end of the year. Michael Andretti better have a look at his budget for cars and body parts for next year.

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At this point with 18 laps to go, the leader, Newgarden, will have to pit again. Dixon, in second, has a differential issue with his car. And Palou, running fourth, has front wing damage.

Rookie Lundgaard, in third, wanted to come into Nashville and have another good showing to show that the podium at Indianapolis was not a fluke, and right now his car is the only one in the top four with no damage or issues.

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Leaders are pitting ahead of the restart.

Green-green-green at Lap 57 with Nashville's own Newgarden leading the pack and Dixon, Lundgaard, Power, Harvey, Palou, Malukas, Herta, Grosjean and Kirkwood making up the top 10.

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And the fifth caution is out. Lap 52 and Rahal, who had returned to the race, is back in the wall. VeeKay, on cold tires, appears to have not realized Rahal was in the wall and is right into the back of Rahal.

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And alternate strategies emerge as Lundgaard pits along with Power, VeeKay and Dixon.

Is there an issue for Power? Looked like he left the pit stall a little slowly and VeeKay is past him.

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Herta said before the race that there are places you can get around people here, and he just showed one off, slipping inside of Lundgaard and driving into ninth at the exit of Turn 1 and the grandstand.

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Colton Herta, who had problems at the start and went down a lap, is now up to 10th and challenging Lundgaard for ninth.

Rossi, who also went down a lap early and found trouble later, is running 13th. 

Nashville is certainly a surprising place.

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Lap 45 and Palou has a 2.7-second lead on McLaughlin, who sets about chasing him down.

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Malukas is now past Pagenaud and it could be the Frenchman has a problem.

Grosjean now also past Pagenaud.

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McLaughlin still may have something to say about that as he goes inside of Pagenaud and into second place. 

Do you think Chip is rooting for McLaughlin? Naw. A win is a win.

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You have to think a win is a win for Chip Ganassi Racing, but it may be a frosty winner's circle should Palou, being sued by CGR over contract issues, hold on and pull into Victory Lane.

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Just past the halfway point and Palou leads with Pagenaud, Malukas, McLaughlin, Kirkwood, Grosjean, Johnson, Power, VeeKay and Lundgaard making up the top 10.

Track is green-green-green and Malukas is looking to get past Pagenaud, but McLaughlin is trying his best to get past Malukas.

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As things stand, if they finished this way it would shake up the race for the rookie of the year title. Malukas is second to Lundgaard in the table but runs third. Lundgaard is currently 10th. Kyle Kirkwood is having a great race and is fifth at the moment.

Green is waved off and the field will come around the street course and try again.

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Newgarden is in. They pull off the "greens" and replace them with scuffed primaries. It could be that Newgarden is hoping to go all the way from this point out.

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It's green-green-green. And there's more contact at the back of the field with Rossi and Callum Ilott, but the caution is brought out by Devlin DeFrancesco and Takuma Sato having a meeting of cars. 

Yellows breed yellows. There were nine of them last year.

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Three drivers are on the softer "greens": Power, VeeKay and Newgarden. So, they should be able to have better grip and may make up a lot of ground right away on this restart.

The question will be how long those alternate tires will stay grippy.

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Lap 30 and Palou is the leader, followed by Pagenaud, Malukas, McLaughlin, Johnson, Kirkwood, Grosjean, Power, Lundgaard and Rosenqvist making up the top 10.

As things stand now, Palou, the defending series champion. would move himself up to third in the race for the championship behind Power and Ericsson.

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Dixon is still having problems and it appears there is a rear-suspension problem, particularly with the tire. Dixon is back out.

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It will be a DNF for O'Ward, and that will certainly hurt his championship hopes moving forward with only three races remaining after Nashville.

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