Allan Brewer, IndyCar Correspondent
Dixon only driver to win on Motegi oval and road course
Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon won the final IndyCar Series race at Motegi, Japan on Sunday ahead of Team Penske’s Will Power and third-place Marco Andretti of Andretti Autosports.
“We had a great day, good fuel strategy, pit stops, everything went our way today,” said Dixon. Dixon completed the weekend championship points sweep of qualifying pole, most laps led and race victory. With two rounds remaining he lies 59 points shy of first place in the season standings.
It’s a real honor to win the award with Mario’s name on it.
It was the New Zealander’s 27th career IndyCar Series win.
“I had no opportunity to pass him (Dixon) today, said second-place Power. “At no point was I settling for second, but it didn’t matter. He was perfect today.”
Sam Schmidt Motorsports’ Alex Tagliani finished fourth, Oriol Servia of Newman/Haas Racing was fifth and Dale Coyne Racing’s Sebastian Bourdais was sixth.
Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves came home seventh just ahead of Panther Racing’s JR Hildebrand.
Dario Franchitti of Ganassi Racing finished ninth, and Andretti Autosports Mike Conway was tenth.
Castroneves was penalized after the race was over for a local yellow zone violation and placed at the rear of the running field in 22nd place.
Power took a 13 point lead over Franchitti in the overall season championship points lead, and clinched the Mario Andretti Road Course trophy with his second-place finish at Motegi.
“It’s a real honor to win the award with Mario’s name on it,” Power said. “Now our goal is to win the big one (season championship).”
The race’s deciding moment occurred on Lap 26 when Franchitti swerved into teammate Charlie Kimball and Team Penske’s Ryan Briscoe on a restart. Franchitti was penalized for the move by race officials and placed at the rear of the field.
“I did the best I could with my car,” said Franchitti. “I made a mistake on that restart. We all make them, but I can’t afford them if we want this championship. We’ll shrug this one off and do better next week.”
The IndyCar Series takes a two week break prior to its return at Kentucky Speedway on October 2nd for the penultimate round of the 2011 campaign and the season’s end in Las Vegas, Nevada.