(Fontana, California) -- Scott Dixon gave PacWest Racing its first title when he led all but one lap to clinch one of the most dramatic Dayton Indy Lights Championships ever at the California Speedway in Fontana today. Dixon, driver of the ...
(Fontana, California) -- Scott Dixon gave PacWest Racing its first title when he led all but one lap to clinch one of the most dramatic Dayton Indy Lights Championships ever at the California Speedway in Fontana today.
Dixon, driver of the #17 Invensys/Powerware PacWest Lights entry, went into the season finale with just a four-point lead over Dorricott Racing's Townsend Bell, but was able to dictate the race after taking the lead on lap one.
He lost the lead briefly on lap 37 to Felipe Giaffone, but took it back the very next lap and went on to win his sixth event of the 12-race season.
Dixon's teammate Tony Renna rode "shotgun" for the majority of the race in second place, giving Dixon the breathing space he needed.
During the lead changes on laps 37 and 38, Renna actually lost three positions and Bell moved up to second place to put pressure on Dixon.
With just nine laps to go Dixon and Bell broke away from the main pack, but just three laps later Renna managed to work his way back into third place and into contention for the race.
Bell tried a desperate move on the inside of Dixon as the two approached the start-finish line for the last time, but it was not enough to beat the 20 year-old New Zealander.
A win by Bell would not have given him the championship, unless Dixon had finished third or worse, but that did not stop him trying for a race win.
Renna, driver of the #18 Motorola PacWest Lights entry, was third in a finish where you could have thrown a blanket over the first three cars.
The only incident of the race came on the last lap as Dixon took the doubled checkered flags, when teammates Luiz Diaz and Mario Dominguez crashed on the front straight.
Dixon increased his championship lead by a point when he tied-up the most laps led for the race at the completion of lap 26.
He eventually won the title with 155 points from Bell (146), Mears (141), Giaffone (118) and Renna (105)
Renna, driver of the #18 Motorola PacWest Lights entry, was one of the top performers in the second half of the season and his podium place capped off a return to form after mechanical problems plagued a lot of his opening races.
The future plans of Dixon and Renna will be announced in coming weeks.
-- #17 INVENSYS/POWERWARE PACWEST LIGHTS -- 1st
"It was definitely not a Sunday drive out there," said Dixon.
"Mid-way through race I was hoping Tony and I could stay together the entire race.
"I owe a lot to Tony for covering my back and for helping me get there in the end.
"Basically I kept it flat all the way and it worked out as good as it possibly could have.
"It has been a superb season, although we felt a little down after a couple of DNFs coming into this last race. We re-grouped and did the job.
"I have to thank Bruce McCaw for giving me this opportunity and our Lights Team Manager "Ziggy" (Paul Harcus) for all his efforts during the season. I want to share this with all my team and everyone at PacWest who has made this championship possible."
-- # 18 MOTOROLA PACWEST LIGHTS -- 3rd
"We were working on a changing strategy through the whole race," said Renna.
"It was certainly pretty tight out there at times, but it worked out great for all of us in the end. The three of us (Dixon, Bell and Renna) made a bit of break for those last few laps which obviously helped us a lot. I have to congratulate Scott on winning the championship and thank Bruce McCaw and the PacWest crew for giving me a full-time ride this season."
-- PRESIDENT, PACWEST RACING GROUP
"It really has been a strong season for us in the Dayton Indy Lights Championship and today we won the trophy we have been after for four years now," said McCaw.
"This is a great reward for the team and for our sponsors Invensys/Powerware who only joined us at the start of this season and who have enjoyed great success.
"Scott (Dixon) has been consistently fast and has scored points as a result.
"We probably waited a race longer than we wanted to wrap-up this title, but everyone has done a tremendously professional job to achieve our goal. I have to thank "Ziggy" (Team Manager, Paul Harcus) and his all his guys for the job they have done this season.
"They say the first championship is the hardest one to get. Hopefully we can go on to enjoy a lot more success in the future. The Dayton Indy Lights is a fantastic series and is an extremely important part of CART and the development of young talent.
"I would like to thank the Bridgestone/Firestone company for their support of the series through their Dayton brand -- in particular Al Speyer and Joe Barbieri for their endless enthusiasm. I think that it is also important that we recognize the work of Dayton Indy Lights' President Roger Bailey for his leadership and his entire staff for their continuing efforts to make the series what it is."
PAUL "ZIGGY" HARCUS
-- PACWEST LIGHTS TEAM MANAGER
"This is what it is all about," said Harcus.
"We have been trying for a couple of years now, but this season it has all come together.
"We have a small professional team of Lights guys who have all worked towards one common goal this year and today we achieved it.
"Scott has done a fantastic job and really has proven to be a star in this series. We all look forward to seeing him go on to bigger and better things.
"Tony (Renna) has also been impressive this year and I believe both drivers have a big future in this sport."
<pre> SCOTT DIXON -- PROFILE
Name: Scott Dixon Born: July 22, 1980 (Brisbane, Australia) Age: 20 Nationality: New Zealander Residence: Indianapolis, Indiana Team: PacWest Racing Group Sponsors: Invensys/Powerware Poles: 2 Chicago (1999), Milwaukee (2000) Wins: 1999 -- Chicago; 2000 - Long Beach, Milwaukee, Chicago, Vancouver, Laguna Seca; Fontana First podium: 2nd Miami (1999) - Last podium finish: 1st Fontana (2000)
* Scott is the youngest driver in the Dayton Indy Lights Championship
* Scott was granted a special driver's license at the age of just 13 so he could compete in the New Zealand Formula Vee Championship -- He won the title.
* Team Manager of the PacWest Lights is the well-known Paul "Ziggy" Harcus -- also from New Zealand.
* Scott's mother Glynn and father Ron watched today's race from pit lane, after traveling from New Zealand.
SCOTT DIXON - 2000 DAYTON INDY LIGHTS CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS
Date Event Qualified Finish Date Event Qualified Finish April 16 Long Beach 2nd 1st August 13 Mid-Ohio 8th 2nd June 4 Milwaukee 1st 1st September 3 Vancouver 2nd 1st June 18 Detroit 4th 4th September 10 Laguna Seca 2nd 1st June 25 Portland 8th 11th September 17 St Louis 2nd DNF July 22 Michigan 13th 14th October 1 Houston 6th DNF July 30 Chicago 3rd 1st October 29 Fontana 2nd 1st
CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1: Scott Dixon 155; 2: Townsend Bell 146; 3: Casey Mears 141; 4: Felipe Giaffone 118; 5: Tony Renna 105; 6: Jason Bright 91; 7: Jeff Simmons 88; 8: Mario Dominguez 67; 9: Chris Menninga 61; 10: Jonny Kane 52; 11: Rodolfo Lavin 48; 12: Geoff Boss 43; 13: Luiz Diaz 31; 14: Rudy Junco 26; 15: Andy Boss 19; 16: Rolando Quintanilla 16; 17: Todd Synder 15; 18: Derek Higgins 12; 19: Cory Witherill 2; 20: Waldemar Coronas 0; 21: Sohell Ayart 0