Dixon Wins Takes Point Lead
August 26, 2007 | 5:42 P.M. EST
Dixon scored his fourth victory of the season in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Honda Dallara, holding off the No. 3 Team Penske Honda of Helio Castroneves by .5449 seconds.
"They played the team tactics very good," Dixon said. "It was very frustrating when Tony Kanaan was holding me up earlier in the race. But what goes around, comes around. I knew my car was going to be strong on the last restart, and I drove to the front."
Dixon entered the event eight points behind Franchitti, and was poised to lose another 18 points after running third for much of the event behind Franchitti and Kanaan before the key final round of pit stops.
Franchitti dominated the opening 64 laps of the event, alternately known as the Motorola Indy 300 and the Optima Batteries Grand Prix of Sonoma, in the Andretti Green Racing No. 27 Canadian Club Honda before getting together with Andretti’s No. 26 NYSEG Honda as the latter tried to hold the lead following his final pit stop with 12 circuits remaining. Franchitti’s left-front wing was damaged by the contact, and Dixon dashed into the lead moments after the restart with eight laps remaining.
While one teammate may have cost him the victory, another teammate kept his title hopes alive. Kanaan opted to stay behind Franchitti’s damaged car through the final four laps, holding up a line of faster cars that could have moved up and cost Franchitti further ground in the championship.
"It was almost a perfect day, but it turned out bad at the end," said Franchitti, who finished 8.3 seconds behind DIxon. "It’s a shame when something like that happens."
Sam Hornish Jr. finished fifth behind Kanaan, followed by Danica Patrick, Dan Wheldon, Tomas Scheckter, Vitor Meira and Kosuke Matsuura.
Andretti, the defending winner of the event, took the lead with 13 laps remaining when Dixon made his final stop. One lap earlier, Dixon came back on track in front of Franchitti following his final stop, only to be passed two turns later, Andretti also exited the pits slightly ahead of Franchitti, but the two made contact in the first turn.
"Patience is what wins championships," team owner Michael Andretti said. "Dario knew he would have gotten Marco in the next corner."
The race had only two cautions, both in the closing laps. The final caution waved with seven laps left after Anthony Foyt crashed after contact with Scott Sharp. The final four laps were run under green, with Dixon fighting back Castroneves while Franchitti – protected by wingman Kanaan – held on for third.
The IndyCar Series wraps up its season with back to back weekends -- on the streets of Belle Isle near Detroit next weekend, followed by the September 9 finale at Chicagoland Speedway.