IRL: Sears Point: Chip Ganassi Racing race report

Target Team Fourth and Sixth At Grand Prix of Sonoma Sonoma, CA, Sunday, August 27, 2006--Target Chip Ganassi Racing drivers Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon combined to lead 50 of the 80 laps on the road course at the Grand Prix of Sonoma but when...

Target Team Fourth and Sixth At Grand Prix of Sonoma

Sonoma, CA, Sunday, August 27, 2006--Target Chip Ganassi Racing drivers Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon combined to lead 50 of the 80 laps on the road course at the Grand Prix of Sonoma but when the checkered flag finally fell, a fourth and sixth place finish was the final result. The Target cars were running in first and second place midway through the race with great hopes of making significant gains in the championship with a trip to victory lane before fate played its hand with an airjack problem on a crucial pitstop for Scott Dixon's no.9 Target Honda Panoz.

"We're all obviously disappointed as we did everything we were supposed to do this weekend heading into the race," said Dixon who led the most laps (40) and moved up from twelfth place after the difficult pitstop to finish fourth. "Starting from the pole position, we had the speed and were pulling away. The car was definitely as dominant as it looked when we were running out front, leading comfortably. I was just doing what I had to save fuel and be smart and give us a good cushion. The caution killed our ten second lead and then we had a problem with the airjack in the pits and that pretty much blew our chances for the race win and likely the championship. I did what I could to make my way back to the front but it is so hard to pass on this track but getting past Helio (Castroneves) in the final laps was the only way to have a chance in Chicago. My car was set up to run up front so it was a bit trickier in traffic at the end there. Not much you can do about it."

While rookie Marco Andretti took the victory at Infineon Raceway, the race within a race for the Championship saw Helio Castroneves (441) take the checkered flag in fifth spot to give him a one-point lead over Penske teammate and ninth place finisher Sam Hornish Jr. heading to the season finale at the 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 10. Defending IndyCar Series champion Wheldon (422) is within 19 points of the leader, while his Target teammate, Dixon (420), is also still in contention just 21 points behind.

"It was a real shame for Scott (Dixon) and the Target team as he had an impressive run and was so dominant but that kind of sums up how our whole year has gone really," said Wheldon who led 10 laps in this race and 595 total laps (25%) himself this season to date."I was pretty loose and struggled in traffic. I certainly would have liked to have had a crack at Helio at the end there. As fast as we've been all year, as aggressive as everyone knows I can be, no one is going to want to mess with me in Chicago. I have nothing to lose now and I'm not ready to give up and neither is the Target team. We've been really strong on mile and a half ovals and we can still win. We're still in this. We just have to win at Chicago and the rest will be in the Racing Gods' hands. We've worked very hard all year to make a championship possible and it's not over yet."

Target fans can tune in to watch the final race of the 2006 IndyCar season on ABC Live at 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 10 at Chicagoland Speedway. The race will also be broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPN Deportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 145 "IndyCar Racing" and www.indycar.com.

-credit: cgr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Scott Dixon , Dan Wheldon , Marco Andretti , Chip Ganassi , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing