INDYCAR SERIES Indy Grand Prix of SonomaFinal
Dixon wins Motorola Indy 300, takes lead in standingsAug 27, 2007 - 12:31 AM By Bruce Martin PA SportsTicker Contributing Editor
SONOMA, California (Ticker) -- Scott Dixon's charge over the faltering Dario Franchitti continued as he won Sunday's Motorola Indy 300.
Franchitti had dominated most of the afternoon before he crashed into Andretti Green Racing teammate Marco Andretti late in the race.
Franchitti was able to continue and finish third but he basically threw away a chance at an easy win.
Dixon defeated Helio Castroneves of Brazil by 0.5449 seconds. Dixon's fourth win of the season gave him the points lead over Franchitti, who entered with an eight-point lead but now trails the 2003 champion by four points.
Claiming he was victimized by "team tactics" from the four AGR drivers throughout the race, Dixon believes the rival team "got what they deserved."
"Today was very frustrating, especially having to deal with TK (Tony Kanaan, another AGR driver) a lot," Dixon said. "He was not playing fair at all. We were all warmed in the drivers' meeting about team tactics. I think the IRL (Indy Racing League, sanctioning body of the IndyCar series) was watching another race because it was definitely going on."
Marco Andretti pitted as the leader with 12 laps to go but as he came out of the pits, he was in front of Franchitti, who clipped his teammate's car, sending Andretti off the track and into a tire barrier in Turn 2.
Team owner Michael Andretti, Marco's father, threw his headset in disgust and later said he was upset that Franchitti didn't "show more patience."
That brought out the first of just two full-course caution periods in the race.
The contact busted Franchitti's front wing, but with only eight laps of green flag racing left, the team told him to stay out of the pits rather than change the broken part.
Dixon, who at times said he felt as if he were outnumbered, 4-1, by the AGR drivers, saw the incident and couldn't help but laugh at the outcome.
"It was kind of ironic when Marco and Dario hit each other," Dixon said. "I could definitely see what happened. Marco was coming out of the pits and Dario was at full speed. Dario probably felt because Marco was his teammate, that he was obviously going to give him some room. But I really don't think Marco knew he was there.
"It was one of those things, coming out of the pits, you're trying to get out as fast as possible and those things happen."
After being blocked and held up throughout the race by the AGR drivers, Dixon was asked if he felt a sense of karma when he saw Franchitti's race end in a tangle with a teammate.
"It sure did," Dixon said with a smile.
When the green flag waved, Franchitti tried to block Dixon but the New Zealander was able to outsmart this year's Indianapolis 500 winner by taking the outside line going up the hill in Turn 3 for the lead.
"It enabled us to have a really good go at him," Dixon said. "He slipped a little bit in Turn 2; we had the run going into Turn 3.
"Pretty much then, it was smooth sailing."
As Dixon drove away from the field, Vision Racing's A.J. Foyt IV ran into the spinning car of Scott Sharps in the final hairpin turn.
After two laps of caution, the green flag waved with four laps to go and Dixon in front of Castroneves and Franchitti.
Telemetry in Dixon's pit area indicated a tire pressure problem but the driver had to stay on the course as he began to drive away from Castroneves.
Dixon babied his race car with the lead, which allowed the hard-charging Castroneves to close up to the gearbox on tight areas of the track, but he continued to maintain the lead.
Meantime, Kanaan refused to pass teammate Franchitti for third place while holding up Sam Hornish Jr. in an attempt to protect his teammate in the points race.
Franchitti's third-place finisher was just ahead of Kanaan. But after leading four times for a race-high 62 laps, Franchitti was frustrated that, for a third-straight race, he was involved in a costly mistake that affected his bid for his first series championship.
"It was a perfect day right up until Marco and I got together in Turn 1," Franchitti said. "We've come close to getting together earlier in the pits. He was out there on cold tires going a good bit slower.
"Tony and I had a similar situation earlier in the race. Tony had given me space. (Heck), even Dixon did it on cold tires. But Marco was out there trying to win the race and we were out there trying to win a championship."
And this is where the priorities clashed.
"He had his priorities, I had mine," Franchitti said. "You saw what happened. Right now I've only got my side of it and he's only got his."
Marco Andretti's side of the story was that Franchitti is enough of a racing veteran to know how to pick and choose his passing zones.
"I gave racing room and I was hoping Dario would race me clean," Marco said. "I hate to think he'd do anything intentional. I was saving so much fuel and my car was good enough that we were still catching them as we were saving fuel and that was the win right there.
"If we would have played fair, that would have happened."
Instead, it was Dixon who celebrated his 10th career IndyCar series win and earned the winner's check for $131,000.
He led four times for 15 laps, including the last eight laps.
More importantly, with two races remaining, Dixon is now in the points lead heading into next Sunday's street course race in Detroit.
"I think it's six races in a row that we've earned more points than them," Dixon said of Franchitti. "That is obviously going to cause a bit of questioning within the team and obviously a lot of stress.
"It's definitely tough for the amount of points they've lost over the course of those races. The more the merrier, to be honest."
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- Motorola Indy 300 Preview Aug 26