After an 11 year drought, the Verizon IndyCar Series made its much anticipated return to the desert, and Phoenix International Raceway, for a race under the lights on the 1 mile oval. Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon cruised to victory under caution in the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix on Saturday. It marked the 39th career win for the New Zealander.
The weekend kicked off on Friday with Helio Castroneves qualifying P1 in royal fashion, earning him the nickname “King of Speed”. The Brazilian native smashed a 20 year standing track record with a two-lap average speed of 192.32 mph.
“It’s an honor to be breaking the record, which has been holding for 20 years, and now we’re able to show that Verizon IndyCar Series cars are fast,” Castroneves said.
Saturday’s race results proved Castroneves would only be King for a day as he and Penske teammate Juan Pablo Montoya suffered right front tire issues that helped Dixon take the lead for good.
“It was tough, definitely one of the toughest races on these short ovals,” Dixon told reporters in post-race interviews. “The car was super-fast. I think we had the best car out there on strategies and pit stops.”
Chevrolet owned the weekend with Simon Pagenaud finishing second, Will Power third and Tony Kanaan fourth. The only Honda to crack the top five was driven by Graham Rahal. The second place finish for Simon Pagenaud gave the No. 22 DeVilbiss Team Penske Chevrolet driver the overall series points lead.
With his win at PIR, Scott Dixon reached another milestone. It was his 39th career win, and tied him with IndyCar legend Al Unser for fourth place on the all-time list.
The series now heads to Long Beach, CA for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Photo Gallery: all photos by Kevin C Cox