Scott Dixon Finishes Fourth In Chicago To Keep Title Hopes Alive BRISBANE-born Kiwi Scott Dixon has kept himself in the hunt for this year's FedEx Championship with a fourth place in the Target Grand Prix in Chicago today. The effort earned ...
Scott Dixon Finishes Fourth In Chicago To Keep Title Hopes Alive
BRISBANE-born Kiwi Scott Dixon has kept himself in the hunt for this year's FedEx Championship with a fourth place in the Target Grand Prix in Chicago today.
The effort earned Dixon 12 points, elevating him into sixth place on the championship points table and helping his chances of being in the title race when the Honda Indy 300 is run and won on the streets of Queensland's Gold Coast on October 25-28.
The Surfers Paradise street race will be the penultimate round of the 2001 season.
Team Rahal's Kenny Brack won his third race of the year in Chicago to maintain his position as championship leader with 104 points.
He was followed over the line by Canadian Patrick Carpentier, defending series champion Gil de Ferran, Dixon and Chip Ganassi Racing's Memo Gidley. The result was like a "United Nations" call with a Swede, Canadian, Brazilian, Kiwi and American filling the first five positions. A total of 23 of the 25 starters finished the race on the one-mile oval - 11 of those on the lead lap.
Dixon finished fourth for his best result since third at Milwaukee in round six last month. He earned championship points for the seventh time in his past nine starts and added to his lead in the race for the $US50,000 Jim Trueman Rookie of the Year Award, which now stands at 69-27 over Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Bruno Junqueira
"This was a good result, but not the one we were looking for," said Dixon.
"I got really loose after running on one set of tires for most of the second half of the race. I was hoping we could go the distance without new tires but when the late yellow came out, and my car was getting worse, I knew we needed stickers for the last run.
"I needed the front end of my car to be a bit stronger to make a run at de Ferran.
"We could have used a few more yellows, but we got huge fuel mileage out of my Toyota and that really helped us a lot. Overall I'm very happy because we were able to secure another 12 points. Consistency will be the key down the stretch, and every point will count."
Brack took the lead under caution on Lap 207 when rookie race leader Dixon pitted for the final time. He led the final 19 laps to add to an impressive 2001 oval-track resume that includes victories at Japan and Milwaukee and a runner-up result at Nazareth.
In six career FedEx Championship Series starts on one-mile ovals over the past two seasons, Brack has never finished worse than fourth.
"At last! We've been struggling for a while, but today everything came back," said Brack.
"We had a little misunderstanding last week in Michigan, so it's good to be back here. That was a very good victory for the Shell Ford Rahal team. It was a schoolbook race, we had good pit stops, and it was pretty good, really. We were 12th when all was said and done after the second stop, but we just sat there and didn't take any chances.
"Then, everybody came into the pits and we were the leaders. There was about 15 to 20 laps to go, and it was easy from there."
* FedEx Championship Series championship leader Kenny Brack (Shell Ford Lola) owns a particularly impressive record in starts on one-mile ovals since debuting in the series at the start of the 2000 season. In six career appearances on one-mile ovals, Brack has never finished worse than fourth. His record includes finishes of third at Nazareth, fourth at Milwaukee and fourth at Chicago last season and finishes of second at Nazareth and first at Milwaukee this season.
* Kenny Brack's victory was the fourth of the season for Team Rahal, a single-season record for the 10th-year team, which began operations in 1992. In addition to Brack's three triumphs, Max Papis (Miller Lite Ford Lola) has also reached victory circle this season, winning from the pole at Portland.
* Kenny Brack led 59 laps to increase his series-leading laps led total to 472. Of that total, 443 of Brack's laps led have come on ovals. Brack has led at least 54 laps in each of his five oval-track starts this season, topped by a race-high 130 en route to victory at Milwaukee.
* Patrick Carpentier (Player's/Indeck Ford Reynard) recorded his second consecutive podium result and the sixth of his career with Sunday's runner-up effort, which followed his first career FedEx Championship Series victory at Michigan last Sunday. Player's Forsythe Racing has now put a driver on the podium for three consecutive events, a run that began with Alex Tagliani's (Player'/Indeck Ford Reynard) career-best runner-up result at Toronto two weeks ago.
* Gil de Ferran's (Marlboro Honda Reynard) third-place finish was his third podium effort of the season, following back-to-back top-three performances of second at Mexico and third at Long Beach in the year's first two events. It was Marlboro Team Penske's best performance on a one-mile oval since de Ferran finished third at Chicago last year.
* Rookie Scott Dixon's (Powerware Panasonic PacWest Toyota) fourth-place finish extended an impressive record for the rookie on one-mile ovals. Dixon's mile-oval performance to date includes his first career FedEx Championship Series victory at Nazareth - where he became the youngest winner in major open-wheel history at age 20 years, nine months and 14 days - and a third-place showing at Milwaukee. Dixon has scored championship points in four of his past five starts, dating to a seventh-place finish at Portland, and including a fifth-place performance at Toronto.
* Memo Gidley (Target Toyota Lola) claimed a career-best oval-track result with his fifth-place performance in his eighth oval start. He led nine laps, raising his laps-led total to 134 in just five starts this season, a total that ranks him fifth in the FedEx Championship Series.
* Lola, meanwhile, scored its fifth victory of the season, one off the series lead held by Reynard, which leads the CART Constructor's Championship, 211-187.
* Alex Tagliani of Player's Forsythe Racing finished sixth to extend his streak of points-paying finishes to five, the longest active streak in the FedEx Championship Series. Included is a career-best runner-up result at Toronto two weeks ago, as well as finishes of 12th at Portland, ninth at Cleveland and sixth at Michigan. Now with 38 points, Tagliani has moved from 25th to 15th place in the FedEx Championship Series during his scoring run.
The Target Grand Prix Presented by Energizer concluded the busiest stretch of the FedEx Championship Series, with six events in seven weeks. The series continues with Round 13, the Miller Lite 200, August 10-12 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.
<pre> CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS 1: Kenny Brack 104 2: Helio Castroneves 82 3: Dario Franchitti 81 4: Michael Andretti 73 5: Gil de Ferran 72 6: Scott Dixon 69 7: Cristiano da Matta 67 8: Paul Tracy 52 9: Patrick Carpentier 51 10: Jimmy Vasser 50
- HONDA INDY 300