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Ganassi aces insist they’re still in IndyCar title fight

Scott Dixon, Marcus Ericsson and Alex Palou are all confident that they remain firmly in the IndyCar championship hunt, despite Penske’s Josef Newgarden jumping to second with his win at World Wide Technology Raceway.

Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Although Ericsson, Dixon and Palou finished only seventh, eighth and ninth respectively last Saturday, the damage to their title hopes was minimized by points leader Will Power being on the wrong strategy. Penske’s 2014 champion, who had dominated the first half of the race, was left trying to stretch out his fuel and run on old tires when the rain interrupted event restarted, and he fell to sixth.

So while Dixon and Ericsson were vaulted by Newgarden in the points race, they are just 14 and 17 points behind leader Power, with two rounds to go.

Ericsson, who started an IndyCar race from the front row for the first time, said: “It was an interesting race. I think we started off really well running up front and then throughout the race, we were just dropping back a little bit stint by stint.

“We’ll need to analyze things to see why, but it felt like the car was pretty good. We were just struggling a bit to keep up the pace and some of our pit sequences didn’t fall our way. We took a bit of a gamble and pitted under yellow at the restart of the race and had to push really hard at the end, which was really fun to try to overtake a lot of cars.

“Fortunately, we got it back to seventh, but the Bryant Ganassi car was good all weekend. We’re still in the mix and looking forward to the final two races.”

Six-time champion Dixon described it as “an average night” as his efforts to pit early at each scheduled stop were stymied by backmarkers. And, like Power, Pato O’Ward and his own teammates, he didn’t stop under the mid-race caution caused by Jack Harvey hitting the wall.

“We just really struggled to get on a roll,” said Dixon. “Any kind of undercut or whatever we tried we got blocked into a lapped traffic scenario. Definitely frustrating. We missed a valuable pit stop on one of the cautions which maybe would have changed it, maybe not.

“The #9 PNC Bank team did a hell of a job, the pitstops were awesome all night.

“It came out OK, we're still 14 points out of the championship and with two races to go we're definitely in it."

Palou’s task in order to defend his championship looks more difficult, since he sits fifth on the table, 43 points adrift of Power. But at Portland and Laguna Seca last year he captured a win and a second place respectively, so he remains positive for next month’s final two rounds of 2022.

“We’re still in the hunt,” he said. “The championship is really close and we’re heading to the West Coast, where we were quite strong last year, with chances to win.

“We need to focus on ourselves, try to win the last two races of the year and try to get this championship back home again.”

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