The New Zealander was part of the second group for Qualifying for Race 13 of the IndyCar season on The Brickyard road course, a 10-minute stanza which began with team-mate Marcus Ericsson stopping on-track due to an apparent technical problem for the #8 Honda.
The session restarted with just over six minutes of the original 10 remaining, at which point there was confusion for the #9 crew as to whether they should bank a lap on primary tyres or go straight to alternates.
That had a knock-on effect in terms of failing to optimise set-up, and then track position, with Dixon failing to advance.
“There was just a bit of a mess,” he said on the Peacock stream which is taken by Stan Sport.
“I don't know what we were thinking.
“Everybody left on blacks [primary tyres] and we didn't think we had time to do that, then they threw the reds on, then we went out at a weird time as well, space-wise with other cars.
“We kind of had to back off on the first lap, we didn't add the two or three turns of front wing that we needed to for the reds… That was a complete mess.
“I don't know what we… Amateur hour over here.”
Ericsson's failure to set a lap time at all in Qualifying is thus a reprieve for Dixon in terms of the title race, although key rivals Will Power, Josef Newgarden, and Pato O'Ward all made the Fast Six.
The Kiwi does at least have an extra set of new red tyres relative to that trio for Saturday's (local time) 85-lapper, and the alternate rubber is expected to be used for the bulk of the contest.
“I guess it gives us an option to be super-aggressive on an alternate strategy; that's about it,” observed Dixon.
“The only positive is that we've got two sets of reds; hopefully they're a good tyre that will go the distance that we'll need and that will be an advantage, but we shouldn't be making those mistakes [in qualifying].”
Next up is a Warm Up session late tonight (AEST), then the Race tomorrow at 02:30 AEST.
Stan Sport's live and ad-free coverage resumes on Sunday morning at 02:00 AEST.