SPEEDWAY, Ind. — Scott Dixon was anticipating a spectacular run in Sunday’s 101st Indianapolis 500 after winning the pole with a four-lap average at more than 232 miles per hour.
His end result was spectacular, but far from the way he had hoped.
On lap 53, Dixon was running just outside the top five when the lapped car of Jay Howard got up into the outside wall in the South short chute.
As Howard slowed and came down the track going towards Turn 2, Dixon had nowhere to go and drove up over the left-rear tire of Howard’s No. 77.
The impact launched Dixon into the air before his No. 9 Camping World/NTT Data Honda impacted the inside safety fence at the bottom of the track, where the car went into a barrel roll before landing on the roll-bar and rotating back onto its wheels.
Damage from the crash was so extensive that the entire rear section of Dixon’s car was ripped off and his Honda motor was sheared in half, pieces flying up the track in Turn 2.
The incident drew an 18-and-a-half minute red flag for cleanup, as well as repairs to the section of fencing where Dixon hit.
Both drivers climbed out under their own power, and were later checked and released by the medical staff.
Howard spoke first after exiting the infield care center, blaming Ryan Hunter-Reay — who had just made an inside pass on Howard in Turn 1 — for pushing him up out of the groove and leading the circumstances to the crash.
“We ended up a couple laps down after we ran out of fuel in the first stint. We were out there just trying to pick up laps and see if we get some yellows and try to salvage something from the race,” Howard said. “(Ryan) Hunter-Reay got a run on me … I lifted and let him go, trying to be the nice guy and he moved right over on me and put me out in all the gray, all the marbles and the rest is history … he causes a massive accident.”
“To say I’m unhappy is an understatement. It (just) happened way too quickly. I let Hunter-Reay go and then I tried to slide in behind him … but he had pushed me out in the marbles and was just a passenger at that point.”
After Dixon came out of the care center, he credited INDYCAR and the massive advances in safety for allowing him to walk away unscathed, save for a “rough ride”.
“I’m just a little beaten up there; it was definitely a rough ride. I’m bummed for the team man, because I think we had a great shot (at the win).”
“We got a little loose on the first stint and dialed it in after and made some progress. Overall, I think we were a little light on downforce, but I think later on in the race it would have been the right move to have. I’m glad everybody is okay, it was definitely a wild ride for sure. A big thanks to Dellara and all the safety standards that we have right now.”
Dixon also elaborated on his mental process in trying to avoid Howard’s slowing machine.
“It’s tough, you know, when you (have to) make those decisions. I was hoping that Jay was going to stay against the wall but obviously, with the impact, he was going to turn down.”
“I had already picked that way to go … and there was nowhere else to try to avoid him. I’m glad everyone is alright; it was a wild ride and you just hold on. You just hold on (for the ride) and believe in the safety progress over the years.”
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 23-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
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