New Zealand's Dixon celebrates royal honor with IndyCar win

Los Angeles (AFP) –


New Zealand's Scott Dixon, newly honored by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, celebrated with a victory in the second race of IndyCar's Detroit Grand Prix double-header on Sunday.

Dixon, who crashed in Saturday's first Detroit race, crossed the finish line 1.9419 seconds ahead of IndyCar rookie Marcus Ericsson of Sweden who posted his first podium finish in his seventh race.

For Dixon, it marked career win No. 45, which ranks third in Indy car history and moved the five-time series champion within seven victories of tying Mario Andretti for second place all time.

The win came after Dixon learned he had been appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in recognition of his services to motorsports.

"Huge day," Dixon said, adding that the honor from the queen "means a lot more".

"When you race for wins and championships, that is in your wheelhouse," an appreciative Dixon said. "This is something outside of your sport."

Dixon had qualified sixth for Sunday's race and led 44 of the 70 laps on the 14-turn, 2.35-mile (3.78 Km) temporary street course on Belle Isle Park in the Detroit River.

Although the sunny skies marked a change from Saturday's weather-delayed and shortened race, some aggressive battling on the tight circuit saw five full-course cautions.

Dixon dodged the chaos and led the final 21 laps, including waiting out a six-minute red-flag stoppage when Chip Ganassi teammate Felix Rosenqvist crashed in turn one with five laps remaining.

Dixon easily held off Ericsson on the lap 67 restart and pulled away for his first win since Toronto last season.

Australia's Will Power recovered from early mechanical issues to finish third for Team Penske.

But Penske teammates Simon Pagenaud and Josef Newgarden were both caught up in crashes.

France's Pagenaud, winner of the Indianapolis 500 last week, was in the middle of a five-car incident on the first lap and after repairs finished 12 laps off the pace.

Newgarden, who won on the same course on Saturday, collided with James Hinchcliffe and Alexander Rossi as the three fought for position on lap 33. He too returned to the race after repairs, finishing 21 laps behind the leaders.