Honda Racing press release
Dixon Dominates “The Final” at Motegi
In a virtual repeat of his winning performance earlier this year at Mid-Ohio, Scott Dixon dominated Sunday’s Indy Japan “The Final” at the Honda-owned Twin Ring Motegi circuit in Japan, leading all but one lap on the 2.983-mile road course to score his second IZOD IndyCar Series victory of the season.
Starting from the pole, Dixon quickly established an advantage over the 26-car starting field, with only Team Penske’s Will Power able to keep the leader in sight. Even a late-race caution period, the result of contact between Ryan Hunter-Reay and Sebastien Bourdais, failed to blunt Dixon’s efforts. When the green flag waved for the final time on Lap 61, Dixon quickly edged away from Will Power – his closest challenger all day and the only other driver to lead a lap today – by just over a second per lap to the checkers.
Continuing a six-season tradition of equality and reliability, all 26 Honda-powered drivers completed 10,870 miles this weekend on the Motegi road course without a single failure of the Honda Indy V-8 engine. It now has been more than two years since a Honda in-race engine failure, the last one taking place at Infineon Raceway in 2009.
Finishing second was more than enough for Power to take over the drivers’ championship points lead with two races remaining. Dario Franchitti, the championship leader for much of this season, started ninth but quickly moved up to fifth in the early laps. However, on a Lap 25 restart, Franchitti tapped the right rear wheel of Ryan Briscoe as the pair entered Turn 1, sending Briscoe into third-place Graham Rahal and delaying all three cars.
Franchitti was penalized for unnecessary contact and moved to 23rd, at the rear of the lead-lap field. He then put on a spirited charge for the remainder of the race, setting some of the fastest laps of the day and passing more than a dozen cars to finish eighth. Franchitti now trails Power by 11 points with two races remaining.
With the conclusion of the 14th and final race for Indy cars in Japan, and the final road-race event of 2011, the IZOD IndyCar Series now takes a week off before returning to 1.5-mile oval circuits for the final two races of the season, beginning with the October 2 Kentucky 300 at Kentucky Speedway and followed by the season-ending IZOD IndyCar World Championships Presented by Honda at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Marco Andretti took third for Andretti Autosport, jumping ahead of Oriol Servia in the final stops. Servia attacked Andretti at the late restart, but ended up being shuffled back to fifth behind Sam Schmidt Motorsports driver Alex Tagliani.
Scott Dixon (#9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) started 1st, finished 1st, his 2nd win of 2011 and 27th career IndyCar victory: “The team gave me a fantastic car today. The pit stops were perfect, too. Everything was flawless and that’s exactly what we needed to win today. It’s all a huge credit to the team. Only the last restart was nerve-racking. Will got a pretty good run at the green and we had to work for it going into the first turn. It was the perfect end to a fantastic weekend.”
Will Power (#12 Team Penske Honda) started 2nd, finished 2nd, takes over the series points lead and claims the Mario Andretti trophy as top IndyCar road racer of 2011: “We had the mindset going into this weekend to NOT think about [championship] points, but instead to just focus on the things we could control: our own car and race. We did that and had a very good day as a result. But there are still two races to go. I love the 1.5-mile ovals, but there’s no doubt that [Dario] Franchitti is strong on them as well. It looks like [the championship’s] going down to the wire once again.”
Erik Berkman (President, Honda Performance Development) on today’s race: “Congratulations to Scott Dixon and Target Chip Ganassi Racing. It looks like Scott has developed into a dominating force at Honda-affiliated tracks like Mid-Ohio and Motegi. It was great to see such a large and enthusiastic crowd here today, despite the heat. It’s unfortunate that the series won’t be returning here in the near future. Meanwhile, the fight for the championship has taken an interesting turn, with Will Power having another great weekend and Dario now the challenger rather than the leader. We’re looking forward to a dramatic finish to the season.”