Chip Ganassi Racing Teams press release
Dixon Wins Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi, Franchitti Eighth
MOTEGI, Japan (September 18, 2011) – Target Chip Ganassi Racing (TCGR) driver Scott Dixon piloted the No. 9 Target Honda Dallara to its second win of the 2011 season in the Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi. The victory was Dixon’s 27th career win, which also marked the 86th for TCGR and 145th for Chip Ganassi Racing Teams. Target teammate Dario Franchitti took the checkered flag in eighth.
Dixon started from the pole and ran at the front of the field for the opening 21 laps of the race. After extending his lead over second place to just more than two seconds, he brought the No. 9 in for its first green flag pit stop. When he returned to the track, he was able to maintain his lead over the rest of the field. He secured the bonus points for leading the most laps and then stretched out to a more than four-second lead. On lap 44, Dixon came back to the attention of the pit crew for four tires and fuel during his final scheduled stop of the race. Following the full cycle of green flag stops, Dixon held onto the lead, survived a late-race restart and took the checkered flag ahead of his challengers.
Franchitti started the day from the ninth position, but quickly moved up to sixth by the end of lap one. As the race wore on, he made another move to put himself into the top-five. His first scheduled pit stop came on lap 21, but one lap later the yellow flag flew for a full-course caution. On the following restart, the No. 10 Target car was involved in an on-track incident, which dropped him back to the 23rd position. By lap 34, Franchitti had made his way back up to 19th, and after his final stop of the day moved into 13th. After avoiding multiple incidents in the closing laps, he cut through traffic to finish eighth.
Franchitti is now 11 points behind Will Power in the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Championship Standings. Dixon remains third in the standings, 59 points behind Power.
Up next for Team Target is Round 17 of the IZOD IndyCar Series at Kentucky Speedway for the Kentucky Indy 300 on Sunday, October 2nd (2:00 p.m. ET, VERSUS).
Scott Dixon: “I have got to give a lot of the credit to Team Target today. They gave me a fantastic car, and in some sections I was just cruising trying to save fuel. But the Firestone tires performed brilliantly for my car, which was fantastic. But huge credit goes out to the team. Great pit stops, great fuel strategy, everything was flawless and that is what we needed to win here.”
Dario Franchitti: “First, I'd like to congratulate my teammate. (Scott) did great job all weekend. The incident was totally my mistake, totally my mistake. I did a lot hard work to get from ninth to fifth, and I'd been saving fuel the whole first stint. I made a risky move on the restart. I thought there was a gap and Ryan (Briscoe) was going wide on the entry and that was that. It was just a stupid move and we had a great fight back from 25th. Great job by the guys in the pits and I drove as hard as I knew how. I shouldn't have put us in that position. We still have it all to play for, but I keep making it more difficult. If you win or if you lose, you always look at the championship as a whole. Today, Loudon, Texas, Indy and on and on. You always look at these things, but Will (Power) can do the same with his races. That was a mistake today. I shouldn't have made it. I apologized to Graham and I apologized to Chip. Briscoe and Charlie (Kimball) I will apologize to when I see him. I own up to the mistake and Chip is right to be critical. It was a stupid move, and I shouldn't have done it."