Kiwi Scott Dixon has given his Indycar championship charge a shot in the arm with a stunning second place finish at the Indianapolis Road Course race on Sunday morning.
The four-time series champ had a disastrous qualifying to start from the ninth row of the grid but he demonstrated his undoubted ability to wring every last drop from the car as he charged through the field for a confidence-building podium.
Australian Will Power took the race win. It was the 200th career race win for the Roger Penske outfit.
Starting 18th Dixon avoided some opening lap drama that brought out an early caution. He found himself caught in the mid-pack however and his Chip Ganassi team opted to pit him early off-strategy.
In fresh air Dixon chipped away at the gap to the leaders and by the time the cars emerged from a final pit stop during a safety car period – he managed to get up to third and be on the same fuel and tyre situation as all of the leading contenders.
After the resumption from yellow Dixon dived by rookie Robert Wickens to grab second place. He put some pressure on Power but all cars were hard in fuel-saving mode to make it to the flag and he had to settle for second.
"Definitely credit to the team – everybody on the PNC Bank car has been working extremely hard," Dixon said. "We have definitely had a rough start to the season and a rough weekend here.
"We had a good strategy day – there was a period there on one stint where we were almost two seconds a lap quicker than everyone else just pounding around on new tyres and we must have made up about 20 seconds on that stint.
"It is great to finally be on the podium this year.
"Hopefully we can start to set sail and make some championship points up here."
Power was delighted with the race win. He has started in the top four in each of the first four rounds of the season but has run into problems in three of those races.
"It was an amazing race," Power said. "We had to save a lot of fuel at the end and go fast because I know how good Dixon is at saving fuel and going fast but the Chevy had good fuel mileage."
Wickens held on for third while defending series champ Josef Newgarden made a costly error in the latter part of the race to lose some points to his rivals.
The Indianapolis 500 is the next race in the championship in a fortnight.