Dixon takes slim points lead with Motegi victory

Dixon takes slim points lead with Motegi victory

Scott Dixon won the Indy Japan 300 at the Twin Ring Motegi, taking over the points lead from Ryan Briscoe. With one race remaining at Homestead Miami Speedway three weeks from today, Dixon leads his Ganassi Racing teammate Dario Franchitti by five...

Scott Dixon won the Indy Japan 300 at the Twin Ring Motegi, taking over the points lead from Ryan Briscoe. With one race remaining at Homestead Miami Speedway three weeks from today, Dixon leads his Ganassi Racing teammate Dario Franchitti by five points. Franchitti finished second today.

Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing leads Dario Franchitti, Chip Ganassi Racing.
Photo by Firestone Racing - Dennis Ashlock.

With two laps remaining Dixon was told that his right rear tire was cut. "Pressure was down eight or nine pounds. I had a bit of a gap so I slowed down," said Dixon, who crossed the finish line 1.4475 seconds ahead of Franchitti.

Franchitti thought his car was better than Dixon's but "both cars were evenly matched. Whichever car was in front would win."

Franchitti said his chances for victory were dashed he was held up by Raphael Matos. "I went low to pass Matos and he went low. I went high and he kept coming up until I hit a bump and ended up in the marbles."

"Dario had a mishap in Turn 2, with Matos I believe, which enabled me to get a run down the back straight" and take the lead said Dixon.

Ryan Briscoe came to Japan with the points lead but fell to third, 8 points behind Dixon, after hitting a cone while exiting the pits. Despite finishing 18th, Briscoe still has a shot at the championship. While teammates Dixon and Franchitti must battle each other, Briscoe's teammate Helio Castroneves may be able to provide some help at the season finale.

With 8 points separating the top three drivers, and a ten point spread between finishing first and second at Miami, a victory by any of the three contenders will seal the championship.

"This is what we've come to expect in IndyCar," said Dixon, "the championship coming down to the last lap and the last corner."

When asked about competing against his teammate for one race for the championship, Franchitti said, "That's the way it should be."

Graham Rahal, Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing leads Oriol Servia, Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing.
Photo by Firestone Racing - Dennis Ashlock.

Graham Rahal finished third, matching his best finish on an oval, with his Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing teammate Oriol Servia finishing fourth. "The McDonald's boys have been working awfully hard this entire time and we've had the pace and it's nice to get our first podium on a super speedway and second of the season on an oval," said Rahal, who also finished third at Richmond. "It's such an interesting track and a change from what we're used to with the classic super speedway shape."

Scott Dixon also commented on the Twin Ring Motegi, calling Turns three and four "unlike any other corner on the schedule."

Servia is hoping that his fourth place finish will help cement a deal with NHL Racing for next season. "It was a very good race," said Servia. "I'm very pleased but obviously I would have preferred to be on the podium but Graham had a run on me there at the end and he got the best out of it."

Although the team is seeking sponsorship to continue with Servia, Alex Lloyd will take the wheel of the No. 06 NHL entry for the season finale. "I'm happy that the team gave me the opportunity," Servia said. "We had a good four races and definitely gained momentum and I hope we can continue the momentum next year. I think we can be contenders for the championship if we start together from Day 1. That's what I really hope will happen."

Mario Moraes finished fifth followed by Danica Patrick and Marco Andretti.

"The number 7 car was strong all day," said Patrick, "unfortunately it just wasn't strong enough to defend my win from last year. We could have had a run on Mario (Moraes) but I got caught in traffic and just wasn't able to gain the position. Overall it was a good day and a solid finish for us."

Danica Patrick, Andretti Green Racing leads Graham Rahal, Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing and Marco Andretti, Andretti Green Racing.
Photo by Dana Garrett - IRL.

Andretti picked up 7 positions on his way to a 7th place finish. "Today wasn't a bad showing for the Venom boys, especially considering our starting position," said Andretti. "A better qualifying run obviously would have made our day a lot easier, but we were able to work through some traffic and make the best of it. Had that last yellow fallen a couple laps later I think it would have been a much brighter outcome for the number 26 car, but you can't depend on yellows."

The race was stopped twice for 23 laps, the first when Mike Conway spun and hit the Turn four wall. Conway dove under Tony Kanaan at the entrance to Turn three and managed to get a wheel under Kanaan as the pair raced for the corner. Running side by side through Turns 3 and 4 at Motegi is difficult at best, especially when the two cars are evenly matched. Kanaan was positioned to complete the corner and Conway may have touched the apron causing him to spin.

The second and final yellow came when Ryan Hunter-Reay spun in Turn four and slid down the front stretch. Neither Hunter-Reay nor Conway were seriously injured.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Oriol Servia , Graham Rahal , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Ryan Briscoe , Marco Andretti , Chip Ganassi , Mike Conway , Mario Moraes , Danica Patrick
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing