Target Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates Racing’s Scott Dixon took advantage of contact involving championship leader Dario Franchitti and his Andretti Green Racing teammate, Marco Andretti, to complete a sweep of the IndyCar Series’ three road races this season and move into the points lead with two races remaining.
In his zeal to defend the first victory of his IndyCar career, 20-year-old Andretti cost Franchitti an almost certain victory Sunday in the Motorola Indy 300 presented by Jackson Rancheria in front of an estimated 43,000 sun-drenched spectators at Infineon Raceway, a race the Scotsman had dominated from the pole.
As the drivers cycled through their final pit stops, Andretti, who was on a different strategy than his teammate, came out of the pits just ahead of race leader Franchitti, who had made his stop a few laps earlier. Andretti was on cold tires and didn’t yield to his teammate heading into Turn 2. The ensuing contact between the cars sent Andretti off track and Franchitti sustained damage to the front of his car, including the wing.
Franchitti, who led 62 of the 80 laps, was a sitting duck and Dixon pounced on the restart after Andretti’s car was removed from the course, taking the lead and holding off Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves for the race win, which leapfrogged him over Franchitti into the championship lead with two races remaining.
Dixon, who was eight points behind entering the third, and final, road course of the IndyCar season, holds a four-point advantage over Franchitti heading to the street race at Belle Isle near Detroit next weekend. The season concludes Sept. 9 on the Chicagoland Speedway oval.
Marco was mad and his dad and team owner Michael Andretti felt Franchitti should have been more patient. Dixon collected the spoils for his fourth win of the season.
“AGR played it tough today,” said Dixon, who was the 2003 series champ. “We had to deal with [Tony Kanaan] holding us up a lot and trying to build a gap for Dario [Franchitti]. It’s fantastic for us with the points and it’s another race win this year.”
“With Marco, he came out at the wrong point,” said Franchitti, who has seen a large lead evaporate over the last three races. “Tony and I had a similar situation on the stop before that and Tony opened up the door and gave me the room. I really want to look at it and talk to Marco.”
The Indy Pro Series, IndyCar’s top feeder system, held a doubleheader over the weekend with Alex Lloyd winning Saturday and clinching the series championship and Richard Antinucci capturing Sunday’s race.
Can Dixon maintain his lead over Franchitti?
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