Honda Indy Toronto takeaways: Determined Dixon earns historic 52nd victory

Scott Dixon won the Honda Toronto Indy for the fourth time and tied Mario Andretti for the second most wins in IndyCar history with 52, Colton Herta and Felix Rosenqvist rounded out the podium, while Toronto native Devlin DeFrancesco finished 18th.

Scott Dixon cruised to the checkered flag on Sunday at the Honda Indy Toronto to claim his 52nd IndyCar race victory and fourth at the Exhibition Place street course.

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver moved into a tie with the legendary Mario Andretti for second on the all-time wins list.

Pole sitter Colton Herta of Andretti Autosport settled for second with Arrow McLaren SP's Felix Rosenqvist completing the podium in third.

Here's what you need to know from Sunday's race.

Determined Dixon ends drought to score historic win

A 22-race drought must have felt like an eternity for someone so accustomed to winning with Dixon last driving into victory lane at Texas in May 2021.

Dixon just missed out on pole position qualifying .0894 of a second behind Herta. Starting on the front row in Toronto still kept the New Zealander in quite a favourable spot as he won from that same position in 2018.

The six-time series champion known as the "Iceman" drove like a man on a mission to further stake his claim in the record books.

The critical pass came early as Dixon completed an undercut and made his first pit stop a lap ahead of Herta. As Herta exited the pits on cold tires following his stint, Dixon breezed by. Although it wasn't for the lead, Dixon found himself in front once everyone ahead of him cycled in for their stops.

Dixon never relinquished control from there — even with additional caution periods bunching up the field — leading 40 of the 85 laps around Exhibition Place.

Yet another milestone was reached as Dixon has now made it a record-extending 18 consecutive seasons with at least one victory.

Dixon, who turns 42 on Friday, also now sits behind another Andretti, Mario's son Michael, for second-most wins in Toronto. He still has a ways to go to catch the younger Andretti, who was victorious seven times on the street circuit.

Dixon moved up to fifth in the standings and if Sunday is any indication, he has a serious shot of catching seven-time series champion A.J. Foyt for first in that category.

All class, Andretti was quick to praise Dixon following the race.

Herta holds steady for P2

Although Herta was beaten to the finish line by Dixon, he was also able to hang on and hold off Rosenqvist for second place.

Herta was told to save fuel during the late stages of the race unless he was able to pounce and pass Dixon — an opportunity which never came. That left him vulnerable to Rosenqvist, who had Herta in the sights but couldn't close the half-a-second gap in time.

Street races have brought out the best in Herta with wins at St. Petersburg and Long Beach, and the 23-year-old is looking like a superstar in the making. Just whether it will be in IndyCar or Formula One is the question as Herta completed a successful test drive with McLaren this past week.

Did Rosenqvist avoid penalty? Your mileage may vary

The Honda Indy Toronto can be chaotic and the cauldron was brewing at the midway mark when Rosenqvist and Andretti Autosport's Alexander Rossi were playing bumper cars near the notorious Turn 3.

The potential future teammates tapped tires with Rosenqvist sending Rossi into the tire barrier and out of the race. No penalty was issued for avoidable contact and as Rossi watched the remainder of the race from the paddock, Rosenqvist stepped on the podium holding a crystal trophy.

One might scream where is the justice, but let's not also forget this is the second consecutive race where Rossi has tangled with another driver as he was involved in a spicy situation with current teammate Romain Grosjean just two weeks ago in Mid-Ohio.

IndyCar may have set dangerous precedence heading into the final stretch of the season by brushing this one aside. Was it avoidable contact? You be the judge and see below.

It was also an awkward moment as Rossi will join McLaren next season. Rosenqvist has re-signed — although whether it's with their IndyCar team or their new Formula E outfit is TBD. For now, Rosenqvist is just looking to prove IndyCar is where he belongs.

Palou's gamble pays off

Who says you can't pass in Toronto? Gridlock is a problem for drivers on Lake Shore Boulevard any other day of the week and the Honda Indy Toronto is no exception as it's a tricky track to make up ground.

Not so for reigning series champion Alex Palou, who wrecked in practice and started 22nd due to engine problems during qualifying but somehow finished sixth in the race.

Palou has been the talk of the paddock after Chip Ganassi Racing said last week they were retaining his services for next season only for Arrow McLaren SP to issue a press release saying they had signed him.

The 25-year-old Spaniard won't say who he'll be racing for next year and is letting his driving do the talking.

Palou went off schedule and pitted earlier than everyone else. It was a gamble banking on a yellow flag to put him ahead of the field when it was time for them to pit — although not a huge gamble as in Toronto you can practically set your watch to when there will be a caution. Suffice it to say, it paid off.

Meanwhile, Palou and Dixon's Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Marcus Ericsson kept it clean to finish fifth and maintain his spot at the top of the championship leaderboard.

Woe, Canada

Toronto's Devlin DeFrancesco and Dalton Kellett of Stouffville, Ont., were both making their homecoming debuts as the pandemic kept the lone Canadian date off the schedule during the previous two seasons.

Kellett, who had raced in Toronto on his way up the ladder in the feeder series, had a weekend to forget, however. His A.J. Foyt Enterprise car was plagued with gremlins as a fuel issue ended his qualifying bid early and smoke emerged from the back during the race that forced him to retire.

DeFrancesco, who drives for Andretti Autosport, had a bit of a dustup at the beginning of the race with teammate Grosjean (but then who hasn't at this point) and couldn't quite capitalize on his career-best start of 12th by finishing 18th.

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