Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon in the No.9 PNC Bank Honda started Sunday’s 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season opening Firestone Grand Prix from ninth place on the grid following a tricky qualifying session on Saturday.

The Iceman made a good start to the race and was challenging Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Takuma Sato for fifth place when the pair made contact forcing Dixon to pit for a new front nose on his No.9 PNC Bank Honda.

The New Zealander pitted the following lap to top off with fuel and having fallen down the order he was able to take advantage of fresh Firestone rubber allowing him to pip off his rivals.

Dixon went to finish the race in sixth place having got past his team mate Ed Jones and defending series champion Josef Newgarden. Speaking following the race Dixon said:

Obviously not the way we wanted to start the season here in St. Pete with the PNC Bank car today. We had a fast car this weekend, led practice Saturday, but qualifying didn’t go our way and we started mid-pack. I got loose in turn one and made contact and we went to the back. After that we just focused on clawing our way back up and getting as many points as we could. I thought we could work on strategy and get a solid finish but then we served a drive-through penalty for pit lane speeding which took us out of it. We never give up and we just kept fighting to the end.

Ed Jones in the No.10 NTT DATA Honda started his first race with Chip Ganassi Racing from 17th place.

The Dubai native came through the field over the course of the 110 lap race to end the event inside the top ten in eighth place and speaking following the event, Jones commented by saying:

“We had a great start and made up a lot of ground, which I was happy about. I think we were smart all day and had a solid race. Everything considered, I think the first race went well. You always go back and look at some things you may have been able to do better. I’m excited about the start to the season and can’t wait for Phoenix.

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