INDYCAR: Dixon Takes Second Win of Season at Sonoma; Power Leads by 51 Headed to Finale

RaceChaser Staff Featured, Sprints & Midgets, Verizon IndyCar Series, West 0 Comments

SONOMA, Calif. — official release — Chris Jones photo — Scott Dixon overtook race leader Mike Conway on Lap 83 of 85 en route to a dramatic victory Sunday in the GoPro Grand Prix at Sonoma Raceway.

The win was the 35th of Dixon’s Indy car career, putting him in a tie for fifth place on the all-time Indy car victory list with three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Unser.

Dixon, who started third in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, led Ryan Hunter-Reay across the finish line by 1.1359 seconds. Simon Pagenaud finished third after overtaking Conway, whose No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Ed Carpenter Racing car ran out of fuel about 350 yards from the checkered flag and coasted across the finish line for a 14th-place finish.

“This is just big for our team,” said Dixon. “It was tough because there were so many fuel strategies going on and they were just slightly off. I didn’t know who could make it and who couldn’t.”

Pagenaud, who started 15th in the No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports car, joins Team Penske teammates Will Power and Helio Castroneves as drivers eligible for the Verizon IndyCar Series championship. Ryan Hunter-Reay and Dixon remain championship eligible, but will be eliminated if Power participates in Friday practice at Auto Club Speedway, which would assure the Team Penske driver half points for the weekend.

Power takes a lead of 51 points over Castroneves and 81 points over Pagenaud to the two-mile Auto Club Speedway oval for the season-closing MAVTV 500 on Aug. 30. A total of 104 points are available in the final round of the Triple Crown series.

Power, who started on the pole and led a field-high 33 laps in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car, was scored 10th after rebounding from a spin on Lap 40 that cost him eight positions to 20th.

“It took me by surprise when I spun. That’s just racing,” Power said. “I would have liked to have had a better finish, but the Verizon Chevy team will look to Fontana working towards the championship.”

Castroneves, whose No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske car was involved in contact on Laps 1 and 36, finished 18th. He entered the race 40 points behind Power.

“It’s a pretty disappointing finish, to be honest,” said Castroneves, who started sixth. “The Hitachi Chevy was really fast all weekend and to get hit so early on in the race was really tough. That certainly put us behind, fixing the damage in the front and back of the car and it was tough to recover. So now, we are 51 points behind in the championship heading to the finale at Auto Club Speedway.”

“Anything can happen though,” addedd Castroneves, who also is seeking his first series title after finishing second or third five times. “We are not giving up. We will keep on it and give everything we have next weekend to try and reach our goal. We are still in it and we know what we need to do now over the 500 miles.”

Takuma Sato, who started 20th in the No. 14 ABC Supply A.J. Foyt Racing car, finished a season-high fourth and Juan Pablo Montoya was fifth in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske entry.

“We had another unlucky morning. After the warm-up we had to change the engine,” Sato said. “The guys did a tremendous job to change it in such a short time and give me a competitive car. Unfortunately, we caught debris in the first accident and we had to change the nose and tires. We stayed on the lead lap and kept topping off fuel to make a slightly different sequence of pit stops from everyone else.”

“I overtook a few cars on the track, our strategy worked and the Honda engine did a great job in the end. Everyone is very happy.”

Twenty cars finished on the lead lap, tying a season high set in the Indianapolis 500. The 10 lead changes were the most for a Verizon IndyCar Series race at Sonoma Raceway.

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