Scott Dixon started on the pole for the Indianapolis 500 a year ago, quickly went to the front and led 95 laps, and there was every reason to believe he would finally kiss the bricks for the second time after 14 years of trying.
Then one of the greatest drivers of his generation was caught speeding on pit road — by 1 mph. The penalty shuffled Dixon to the back of the field, and he only managed to climb back to 21st, well behind teammate and race winner Marcus Ericsson.
Yet it wasn't that rare mistake that Dixon dwells on the most these days.
“I think it's always the ones that finish under caution. There's been three or four of those,” said Dixon, who qualified sixth for Monday's 107th running of the Indy 500, and who was a popular voice at today's annual media day.
“You just can't be in the fight. Those are the tough ones. And some of those strategies, you knew the other cars couldn't make it.”
Dixon, who has led an Indy 500-record 665 career laps, trailed only Dario Franchitti in 2007, when a crash between Dan Wheldon and Marco Andretti brought out yellow. More rain began to fall and the race ended that way on Lap 166 of 200.
Five years later, the race ended under caution when Franchitto and Takuma Sato crashed on the last lap with Dixon in second.
And just three years ago, Dixon led a race-high 111 laps before a crash by Spencer Pigot with five to go brought out caution. That was how the race ended, with Sato the only one ahead of the six-time IndyCar Series champion.
“You can't change anything, so you just got to move on,” Dixon said.
“I think they're all tough. Finishing second here, or having a close miss here, is horrible. There's only one happy person. The seconds under caution I think are hardest, to be honest.”