Scott Dixon proved that it isn’t always about where you qualify that counts but where you finish that really matters.
Dixon led a first ever Chip Ganassi Racing podium sweep to win IndyCar’s return to Pocono Raceway after a 24-year absence. The Kiwi earned his first victory since Mid-Ohio last August, while Charlie Kimball tied his career high of second place and four-time series champion Dario Franchitti took the final step on the podium.
Sunday’s victory was the 100th overall win for the Chip Ganassi Racing organization and the 200th in Indycar competition for engine manufacturer Honda. Dixon, who scored his 30th Indycar victory (his first was at nearby Nazareth), is the eighth different winner in 11 races this year. He crossed the finish line .4572 of a second ahead of teammate Kimball in a race slowed by only two cautions for 12 laps. The average speed of 192.864 mph beat Danny Sullivan’s Indycar record 170.720 mph in the 1989 race on the 2.5-mile tri-oval.
The last 1-2-3 team finish was by Team Penske (Will Power, Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe) at Sonoma Raceway in 2011. Will Power finished fourth and Josef Newgarden matched his best finish of fifth.
Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan’s chances of claiming the $1 million “Triple Crown” race winning bonus vanished on Lap 107 when he moved to overtake Dixon for the lead on the inside entering Turn 1. The Brazilian’s front wing sustained damage when it clipped the rear of Dixon’s car which forced Kanaan to pit three laps later for a new front wing.
Still, Kanaan remains eligible for the $250,000 prize, along with Dixon, if either wins the final race of the year in Fontana, California at the Auto Club Speedway. Castroneves, who finished eighth, stretched his championship points lead to 23 over reigning champion Ryan Hunter-Reay heading to next weekend’s Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader race weekend (also my hometown race!).
Pole winner Marco Andretti, who finished 10th after dominating the early portion of the race, remains third in the championship standings and Dixon, a two-time series champion, jumped three positions to fourth with eight races remaining.
At the time of posting this article IndyCar had not yet released their race highlights video, however, this should be up on their youtube channel later on Monday which you can find here, http://www.youtube.com/user/indycars
Full race results can be seen here: http://www.imscdn.com/indycar_media/documents/2013-07-07/Pocono%20INDYCAR%20400%20Box%20Score.pdf
POST RACE QUOTES.
SCOTT DIXON (#9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, winner):
“Going into this morning, I was not thinking we could win. The team definitely hasn’t given up, and you’ve got to hand it to Honda, as well. I think fuel mileage was the key today. And we still had speed up front without having to save all the time.
I don’t know what to say. It’s the 100thwin for Target, as well, which is just fantastic. I’m just so happy. I love this place. Pocono, the fans, just everyone has been fantastic. It’s great to be back. It’s been a long drought, almost a year, so it’s fantastic to be back in winner’s circle.”
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Honda, second):
“Both Thursday at the test and then yesterday, we really focused on our race car. The NovoNordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team, the whole Chip Ganassi Racing crew as evidenced by 1-2-3, was focusing on race day, knowing that’s when it mattered.
So throughout today, the guys made it better on each pit stop, and the car just got quicker and quicker. A lot of credit to Honda, they gave us the fuel mileage and speed today.”
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Energizer Honda, third):
“We went for a very aggressive setup, very low downforce. When I get some kind of gap, I could run some fast laps. The Honda today, it’s so good on fuel mileage, and that really, really helped us. I could catch back up Charlie in spots, but I couldn’t do anything with him because of the aggressive setup we ran.”
CHIP GANASSI (Team owner, #9 Dixon, #83 Kimball, #10 Franchitti):
“When I got out of bed this morning, I wouldn’t have guessed this. I actually forgot that the next win would have been our 100th; it’s been so long since we’ve had a win. It’s a really great place to do it. In Pennsylvania, in my home state. It’s great for the series to have a 1-2-3 (finish) and Honda.
You know, Honda needed a boost, and they stepped up and did a great job. The drivers did a great job, and the team did a great job.”“It’s pretty big, I’ll tell you. I had no idea we’d go 1-2-3. I was just hoping for a decent finish today. Everybody across all of our teams contributed today. It’s nice. Hopefully we’ve turned the corner.
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Sunoco “Turbo” KVRT-SH Racing Chevrolet):
“I apologized to the crew several times. I made a mistake, and it cost us big. I had a run on Dixon but didn’t really think that I was closing that fast on him. We had a car that was capable of winning this race and putting us in a position to contend for the Fuzzy’s Triple Crown and the $1-million prize. We still have a chance to win in Fontana and collect $250,000, but I just feel bad for the crew because they worked so hard to give me a very competitive car.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 27 GoDaddy Chevrolet):
“I mean, it just snapped. We got loose. We’ve been battling understeer with a hot day. We were planning on the car being a bit more pushy than I guess it ultimately ended up being. We went a little aggressive on setup. I don’t know, maybe we went too much or what. It’s just so weird.
I had a moment almost like that in qualifying, and I guess I used up all my luck/talent saving it; we didn’t have enough this time. With the downforce level we were running and the setup that we had, there is just no way I thought that was the kind of accident that would have taken us out, especially on lap one, especially when the tires are fresh and everything was good. It is devastating, man, to have the GoDaddy car out; Andretti Autosport one-two-three didn’t last too long. I feel bad for the team; the guys worked so hard.”
TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply A.J. Foyt Racing Honda):
“I think I misjudged it. We came off the corner, and I lost the back end and slid into Ryan. Extremely sorry to Andretti Autosport and their crew and my crew.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 1 DHL Chevrolet):
“We had a great car today. Just a little too much understeer to start with, so we were just going to add front wing as we went. I really think we had a great car to challenge for the win, was really looking forward to the rest of the race; I love this racetrack. Then we were just coming in to pit lane, minding our own business, and we get creamed from behind.
It’s unfortunate, but we’ve come from further back to win the championship, and we’re determined to do it again. The DHL Chevy boys got me back out on the track. We tried to salvage some points, and I think we got one position. It’s so frustrating when you’re running top three, top two, really happy with your car, and then somebody comes from out of nowhere to take you out.”
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 25 RC Cola Chevrolet):
“Oh, man, I mean we knew early (about our fuel mileage), but not early enough. I think we should have responded quicker, but it’s so hard to be reserved right now. I’m so frustrated for RC Cola and everybody. We were just so dominant, and I’m just absolutely gutted.”
Roger Griffiths (Technical Director, Honda Performance Development) on today’s race and Honda’s 200th IndyCar victory:
“It’s just such an incredible day for Honda and everyone at Honda Performance Development. I’m so pleased for every one of our associates who have been involved in our 200 race wins, for the Target Chip Ganassi organization on scoring their 100th and Scott [Dixon’s] 30th wins – just a great day all-around.
I think the key for us was the exceptional fuel mileage we were able to achieve today. It set us up for a strong finish when many of our competitors were having to conserve. I really enjoyed racing at the circuit, and it seemed to be designed with Scott in mind! In addition, it was great to see Dario [Franchitti] back on form, and I believe this was Charlie [Kimball’s] strongest performance of the year.
Takuma [Sato] also was very strong early in the race, until his unfortunate pit incident, and Simon [Pagenaud] was very quick as well. All-in-all, just a memorable day for us. Now we go on to Toronto, which is a Honda event, and full of enthusiastic fans.”
“Firestone Racing selected a more durable right-side tire specification for the Pocono race weekend after several cars blistered right-rear tires during a June 25 test. The new tire specification ran issue-free all weekend and cars were able to run just as hard and fast on their Firehawks at the end of a full stint as at the beginning.
Firestone is proud that race winner Scott Dixon has collected all 30 of his IndyCar victories on the Firestone family of race tires. His team, Target Chip Ganassi Racing, notched its 100thwin as well today, with 88 of those also coming with the Firestone family. Firestone Racing also congratulates Honda on earning its 200thIndyCar win today.” By James Foreman