Gil de Ferran (Marlboro Toyota) won his final IndyCar Series race and fellow Toyota driver Scott Dixon (Target Toyota) registered his first IndyCar Series championship before an estimated 100,000 at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday. The Toyota ...
Gil de Ferran (Marlboro Toyota) won his final IndyCar Series race and fellow Toyota driver Scott Dixon (Target Toyota) registered his first IndyCar Series championship before an estimated 100,000 at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday.
The Toyota victory is its 11th in 16 races this season and caps off a season that saw Toyota register the most wins (11), poles (11), an IndyCar Series Engine Manufacturer's Championship and a Driver's Championship.
Gil de Ferran's victory is his third of the season and the fifth of his IndyCar Series career. In winning the race, he captures his first IndyCar Series championship. De Ferran tied Dixon and his future replacement Sam Hornish for most wins in the series this year.
With the second-place, Scott Dixon captures his first IndyCar Series title. The championship is Dixon's sixth in his 10 years of racing cars beginning with Formula Vee in New Zealand in 1994 at age 13, since then he's won titles in Formula Ford (1995, 1996), Formula Holden (1998), Indy Lights (2000) and now in the IndyCar Series.
Toyota drivers swept the top-three in points this season with Scott Dixon leading Gil de Ferran by 18 points in the final standings, with Helio Castroneves five points behind his teammate in third.
Scott Dixon's second-place finish is his fourth second-place finish in the last five races and his eighth top-two finish (three wins and five seconds) of the 2003 campaign.
With today's victory, Toyota concludes its first season of IndyCar Series competition by winning the Manufacturer's Championship lead by 39 points over second-place Honda. Toyota actually clinched the 2003 Engine Manufacturer's Championship at Nazareth and also won last year's CART Manufacturer's Championship.
Scott Dixon joins a select group of drivers that have earned titles with Toyota power in major U.S. racing series over the past 16 years. Since 1987, Toyota-powered drivers have won championships in every major series where the manufacturer has competed. Chris Cord became the first Toyota champion when he won the 1987 IMSA GTO title in an All American Racers (AAR) Celica. After moving up to IMSA GTP competition, Juan Manuel Fangio II earned consecutive championships in 1992 and 1993 in an AAR Toyota Eagle. With the GTP series demise after the 1993 season, Toyota moved into open-wheel racing with Cristiano da Matta registering the 2002 CART championship before moving into a seat with the Toyota Formula One program this year.
Toyota appears likely to have two more champion drivers this year. Robert Huffman will wrap up Toyota's first NASCAR championship when he takes the green flag at the Goody's Dash season finale in Atlanta, while Jeff Kincaid won his fourth straight CORR Pro-Lite title in 2003.
Scott Dixon's IndyCar Championship is the fifth Indy-style championship for Target Chip Ganassi Racing. Dixon joins Jimmy Vasser (1996), Alex Zanardi (1997, 1998) and Juan Montoya as Target Ganassi champions.
Today's race marked the finale IndyCar Series race for 2003 Indianapolis 500 champion Gil de Ferran, who will retire at season's end. While de Ferran will be moving on at the conclusion of the season, the Toyota IndyCar Series line-up for 2004 is already starting to take shape. Two-time series champion Sam Hornish will replace de Ferran in the Marlboro Toyota for Team Penske. In addition, Tony Renna was recently announced as the 2004 teammate for Scott Dixon in a matching pair of Target Toyotas for Target Chip Ganassi Racing.
Jim Aust, Toyota vice president of motorsports:
"It was only fitting for a great champion like Gil de Ferran to go out a winner in his final start, and it's just as fitting that Scott Dixon take home the championship this year. Scott has run strong from the first race to the season finale here. Our congratulations go out to Scott, the entire Target Chip Ganassi Racing team and everyone at Toyota Racing Development."
Next Race: Toyota 300, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Feb. 29, 2004