Dixon scores upset victory at Pocono

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Chip Ganassi Racing’s trio swept the podium in their Honda-powered Dallara IndyCars. Scott Dixon handed the team’s main sponsor, Target, their 100th win.

Long Pond, PA – Scott Dixon scored an upset victory in the Pocono Indy 400 by besting hometown favorite and the dominant race performer Marco Andretti. Advancing steadily through the field, Dixon powered into the lead on the 133rd lap and didn’t yield en route to the checkered flag, finishing .4572 seconds ahead of teammate Charlie Kimball.

The race marked the return of open-wheel racing to Pocono Raceway. The last event was held in 1989 and a hearty crowd of fans turned out for the 400-mile race on the rapid 2.5-mile oval known as the “Tricky Triangle.”

Average speed for the 160-lap event was a fast 192.864 miles per hour with only two caution flags slowing the race for 12 laps.

The victor drove the Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda and attained his 30th IZOD IndyCar Series win, moving him into 10th place in all-time wins. Previously, he was tied with three-time Pocono winner Rick Mears.

Race winner Scott Dixon, Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
Race winner Scott Dixon, Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Photo by: Chris Jones

Said Dixon, “This is a great win for us. To say the least this win is a shock. I knew the car was good but wasn’t sure of our pace. We trimmed the car out a lot and just hoped we could hang with the others. Our pit stops and fuel mileage helped, and it was something we didn’t expect. We had a lot of down force and drag in the car, and I think that helped a lot. I am super excited for the team.

"Until now, we’ve had some good times and not so good. When we’ve had good cars, we’ve had engine problems and vice versa. It is nice to have the team sweep the podium, and this win came just about on the anniversary of my last win. I am glad to get this win out of the way and get back on the top spot of the podium.”

Dixon’s winning car had an engine change on Saturday and he had to give up 10 starting spots, dropping him to 17th at the start of the race.

When it looked like Andretti was effortlessly cruising to victory, Dixon seized upon the opportunities presented and took command of the spotlight. Instead of a win for Pennsylvania residents Marco and team owner Michael Andretti, another Pennsylvania native, team owner Chip Ganassi, took the win and was feted in victory lane for the accomplishment.

For Chip Ganassi Racing, the potent Honda-powered team swept the top three finishing positions and for the cars with primary sponsorship from Target, it marked the 100th victory for the corporate relationship. And this is the first time the team has finished 1-2-3 in any form of racing.

Also, Honda racked up its 200th open-wheel victory in North America.

Race winner Scott Dixon, second place Charlie Kimball, third place Dario Franchitti with Chip Ganassi
Race winner Scott Dixon, second place Charlie Kimball, third place Dario Franchitti with Chip Ganassi

Photo by: Chris Owens

Driving the NovoLog FlexPen Honda, Kimball tied his best finish ever and was a threat as the race neared conclusion.

“My car was really good and we focused on the car on Thursday,” he said. “We weren’t sure what kind of car we were going to have in qualifying, and credit for today’s showing goes to the team. We’ve had some tough times and to be able to bounce back, credit goes to the team and to Honda. The guys in pit lane did a great job, too, which helped as passing was at a premium. When you are up front, everyone is running well, and it is hard work to make moves. A couple of times I had to back out, as discretion was the better part of valor. Dario (Franchitti) and I and someone else were three-wide at one point; all of us had to lift. It was a really good race, and everyone had to pay attention.”

Third place went to Dario Franchitti, who started 20th. He drove the Energizer Honda.

“It was one of those races you just take it hard every lap,” the Scotsman noted. “I was so on the limit with the car as we had so much down force in the car. It was quick on the straights but not so much in the corners. Trying to keep my momentum up, the whole car was sliding around. Turn three was an adventure, as the car was pushing so much. Ending up third was great. We got a lot of help today; the Honda engine had great mileage. We pushed hard every lap, and I had some very close moments out there. Today was a good day.”

Will Power took fourth place ahead of Josef Newgarden.

Sixth through 10th were Simon Pagenaud, Justin Wilson, Helio Castroneves, Ed Carpenter and hard-luck driver Andretti, who ran out of fuel on the final lap. He had led 88 laps.

Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan clipped Dixon while the two were vying for the lead, and the slight impact bent the front wing of Kanaan’s car. Dixon said he never felt their coming together.

Kanaan ended up in 13th place.

A first lap crash eliminated James Hinchcliffe from competition and a pit-road incident sidelined Ryan Hunter-Reay and Takuma Sato. In the latter incident involving two of the front-runners, fast-moving Sato ran into rear of Hunter-Reay as the two were stopping for service.

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Series INDYCAR
Article type Race reports
Tags crashes, dixon, franchitti, ganassi, honda, indycar, kimball, pocono, podium sweep, race