Dixon Takes Championship Lead With Infineon Victory Dario Franchitti dominated Sunday's Motorola Indy 300 at Infineon Raceway, but contact with teammate Marco Andretti with only 11 laps remaining resulted in the victory going to title rival...
Dixon Takes Championship Lead With Infineon Victory
Dario Franchitti dominated Sunday's Motorola Indy 300 at Infineon Raceway, but contact with teammate Marco Andretti with only 11 laps remaining resulted in the victory going to title rival Scott Dixon, who now assumes a narrow four-point lead in the intense championship battle with just two races remaining in the 2007 IndyCar Series.
Starting from the pole, Franchitti led 62 of the 80 laps around the hilly, 11-turn Infineon road course, dropping out of the lead only during the exchange of routine pit stops. But it was just after the last of those stops, as Andretti exited pit lane, that the pair made light contact entering the uphill Turn Two. Andretti retired on the spot, while Franchitti continued with damage to his left front wing that would hamper his handling for the remainder of the race.
When the green flag waved again on Lap 72, second-place Dixon made quick work of Franchitti, passing him in Turn 3, and Helio Castroneves relegated Franchitti to third just six turns later. Castroneves made several passing attempts on Dixon in the final laps -- interrupted by one last three-lap caution on Lap 75 for contact between Scott Sharp and A.J. Foyt IV -- but Dixon remained in control to score his fourth race win of 2007.
It was another weekend of perfect Honda performance and reliability for the Indy V8 engine, with the 18 series regulars totaling nearly 6,363 miles in practice, qualifying and racing around the demanding Northern California road course without a single mechanical failure.
Franchitti, with an assist from fourth-place teammate Tony Kanaan -- who held off several potential podium finishers in the closing laps -- held on for third. Dixon, Franchitti and Kanaan are the only remaining contenders for the IndyCar Series drivers' championship, after Castroneves, Dan Wheldon and Sam Hornish Jr. were all matematically eliminated this weekend.
Following Kanaan came a tightly-packed group including Hornish, who recovered from a mid-race spin to finish fifth; Danica Patrick, continuing to show strong road-course form in sixth and Wheldon in seventh. Tomas Scheckter held off Vitor Meira for eighth, with Kosuke Matsuura rounding out the top 10 finishers, all on the lead lap.
Scott Dixon (#9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) Started 5th, finished 1st, his fourth victory of 2007 and 10th career IndyCar win: "This was exactly what we needed today, another win and taking over the points lead.
The crew was fantastic all day, the car was great and we had really quick stops. But it was a tough day, a tough weekend. It was very, very intense out there with a lot of different tactics going on among the various teams. TK [Tony Kanaan] was a real pain to us; he was doing what he could to protect Dario [Franchitti] and it was very frustrating. I just wanted to race Dario one-on-one; I didn't want to have to deal with TK. But I suppose if we were in the same position we would have done the same thing. Now, we go on to Detroit and Chicago with the points lead. We're exactly where we want to be."
Helio Castroneves (#3 Team Penske Honda) Started 4th, finished 2nd, his fifth top-three finish of the season: "Scott [Dixon] drove a great race today. If he would have given me even the smallest opportunity, I would have tried [to pass], because I had nothing to lose. But he never did; Scott was perfect over the last few laps. We're out of the championship now, but I still want more [race] wins. I guess today's finish is 'payback' for St. Petersburg, where I finished first and Scott finished second. Overall, it was a very good day for Team Penske and I'm looking forward to Detroit next week."
Roger Griffiths (Race Team Technical Leader, Honda Performance Development) on today's race: "It was another 'clean' weekend for Honda. We really had no significant problems all weekend, and that's always our goal. Congratulations to Scott Dixon and the Target Chip Ganassi Racing team, the title fight has certainly gotten exciting in these past few weeks. Now it's on to the street circuit at Belle Isle, and that will be a brand new venue for a lot of the teams and drivers -- but not for the championship contenders. I'm looking forward to that race and the Chicagoland finale."