INDYCAR SERIES Watkins Glen Grand PrixFinal
Dixon three-peats at Watkins GlenJul 9, 2007 - 5:52 AM By Bruce Martin PA SportsTicker Contributing Editor
WATKINS GLEN, New York (Ticker) -- Scott Dixon achieved his three-peat at Watkins Glen, continuing his dominance here by winning Sunday's Camping World Watkins Glen Grand Prix.
Dixon has won all three of the IndyCar Series events on this 3.377-mile, 11-turn road course that was once the home of the United States Grand Prix Formula One race.
But the fight that happened on pit lane after the race between second-place finisher Sam Hornish Jr. and fourth-place Tony Kanaan could have been called a draw, as the two squared off over an incident in the race that happened on lap 29 of the 60-lap race.
That's when the two drivers made wheel-to-wheel contact with Kanaan's right rear and Hornish's left front in turn 6, known as "The Bus Stop" on the historic road course.
After the race was over, Kanaan's car rammed into Hornish's as the two were heading down pit lane. An angry Hornish climbed out of his car to talk to Kanaan about the incident.
Tempers flared, Hornish said Kanaan slapped him and at that point, Hornish's 64-year-old father went after Kanaan, giving him a hard push.
Things took an ugly turn at that point, as someone with Andretti Green Racing slammed the 64-year-old Hornish to the ground before IRL head of security Charles Burns dove in to pull them off Hornish.
Team owner Michael Andretti wanted to get involved in the fight but was pushed away by his son, 20-year-old Marco Andretti.
It was a brawl one would expect to see in NASCAR, but not IndyCar, giving the series its best post-race altercation since team owner A.J. Foyt slapped Arie Luyendyk after a controversial finish at Texas Motor Speedway in 1997.
"I don't know what the right thing is to say," Sam Hornish Jr. said. "It was an unfortunate incident. I'm not surprised that he was at least thinking about something. But it was unfortunate that it all played out the way it did. You would think 30 laps later you could have let it go."
Kanaan was still upset after he was pulled out of the scrum.
"After the race, I wasn't very happy and I got out of the car to talk to him," Kanaan said. "Sam's dad bumped me and I think that's totally wrong. I was not going to fight Sam. I was not going to punch him.
"We were obviously both hot and were talking about what happened and his dad came in and bumped me."
It overshadowed a race that Dixon dominated, leading twice for 23 laps. He defeated Hornish by 6.2591 seconds. Hornish, a three-time series champion, scored his best career road-course finish.
Hornish, who is expected to leave the series and join NASCAR Nextel Cup at the end of this season, was impressive in his battle for a road-course win.
The winner was a bit bewildered at the Hornish-Kanaan pit lane altercation as he talked about his victory afterwards.
"I'll have to TiVo direct and check it out," Dixon said of the brawl. "It's tough. Guys in the pits competing against each other. If somebody squeezes somebody or does something it's going to fire those guys up."
Kanaan and the two Hornishes were summoned to the IndyCar transporter after the race for a lengthy meeting with IndyCar president of competition Brian Barnhart. Results of any penalties were not announced by IRL officials.
"We can assure you that sanctions will come down promptly. We're disappointed in the actions of people and taking away what was a fine performance by Scott Dixon," said John Griffin, vice president of public relations.
Dario Franchitti, this year's Indianapolis 500 winner, was third, followed by Andretti Green Racing teammates Kanaan and Marco Andretti.
Andretti was the leader when he pitted on lap 43, giving up the lead to Dixon. Danica Patrick also pitted for what would be her last stop.
Dixon was back in front followed by Franchitti, before Dixon pitted on lap 45 followed by Hornish. Both teams changed four tires and filled it up with Ethanol as the race entered its final stage.
After the green-flag pit stop sequence cycled through, Dixon was the leader, followed by Hornish and Andretti. Franchitti was fourth with Ed Carpenter fifth.
Dixon would go on to score the easy victory, the seventh IndyCar win of his career.
Helio Castroneves finished last in the 18-car field after starting on the pole. He was the leader when he got loose and crashed hard into the wall in the 11th turn.
"I was trying to hold my line and keep it clean out there," Castroneves said. "I think I just over-thought things and ended up spinning.
"I knew Scott Dixon was fast in turn 1, so I was pushing to get up there in front of him and I spun in turn 11."
Even when he wasn't in the lead, Dixon's presence was enough for his main competitor to make a mistake.
"I was pretty close," Dixon said. "I could see him get wiggles on the entry of it. I backed out of it a little bit because I knew he was going to run high and I could get a run on him.
"But it was lucky that I had sort of slowed up a bit because he came down the track pretty quick, enabled me to have enough time to turn to the right and just missed him. I could definitely see they were struggling with a loose car."
With Castroneves out of the way, Dixon wasn't worried when Vitor Meira, Dan Wheldon and Andretti took turns at the front of the field.
When Dixon regained the lead on lap 43, he drove away from Hornish and earned a check for $131,400 for the victory.
"In some ways it was a tough race," said Dixon, who averaged 116.813 miles per hour. "One of the toughest ones mainly because of the yellows (three full course yellow flags for seven laps). Other people can get in front of you through pit stops and yellow flags."
By winning all three IndyCar races at Watkins Glen, Dixon has placed his name along some incredible drivers. Graham Hill won here from 1963-65 in Formula One.
"It's been a fantastic track for myself," Dixon said. "Every time I've come here we've had great cars from Chip Ganassi Racing.
"Today just all things played our way. I was waiting the last 10 laps for something to break, with the luck we've had in recent races. I was thinking something has got to go wrong here. But luckily we held onto it and we're going to try to go for another one next year and make it four in a row."