Scott Dixon has had a lot of memorable days as a five-time IndyCar champion.
There’s a good chance he’ll never forget what happened Sunday.
Dixon won the Detroit Grand Prix, his first victory of the year and 45th of his career, just hours after being honored by Queen Elizabeth II.
The Chip Ganassi Racing driver from New Zealand finished nearly 2 seconds in front of rookie Marcus Ericsson, Will Power, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi.
Indianapolis 500 champion Simon Pagenaud finished 17th after colliding with Patricio O’Ward and Tony Kanaan on the opening lap.
Josef Newgarden, who won Saturday on Belle Isle, was able to return to the race after being knocked out of it following an accident with James Hinchcliffe and finished 19th in the 22-car field.
Felix Rosenqvist spun out late in the 70-lap race, bringing out a red flag to potentially set the stage for a dramatic finish.
Dixon refused to lose the lead.
The race resumed with four laps to go and no one could catch Dixon’s Honda-powered car. Dixon trails just A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti in IndyCar wins and only Foyt has won more championships in the open-wheel series. Dixon won for the third time on Belle Isle, tying Helio Castroneves for the most victories on the road course along the banks of the Detroit River.
Dixon took the lead midway through race when rookie Santino Ferrucci went in for his first pit stop. Ferrucci led for 20 laps after being out front for only one lap this year, briefly racing in front of the pack last week at the Indianapolis 500, and finished 10th.
Earlier in the day, Queen Elizabeth II announced Dixon was being given the Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in recognition of his services to motorsport. He will receive the award at Buckingham Palace.
Britain’s monarch honors national and commonwealth individuals for their contribution to society in June and on New Year’s Day.
“It’s definitely a huge honor and totally different to any kind of racing accolade I’ve had,” Dixon said. “I think of being very lucky and fortunate on the racing side of things. I’ve achieved a lot. But to get recognition like that, very few people do.”