Late Charge Puts Dixon In Sonoma Spotlight
SONOMA, California – Just when it looked like a Team Penske driver was going to win the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship driving away, the champion may be a driver who wins by default.
Just one week before college football’s regular season kicks off, both Helio Castroneves and Will Power fumbled.
Castroneves was involved in a crash at the start of the race and Power looked like he was driving away to take firm control of the Verizon IndyCar Series championship. But on Lap 41 of the 85-lap race, Power spun out in the hairpin and went from leading contender to back marker.
Power, did not give up and was able to fight his way back to 10th place in a race won by Scott Dixon. For what looked so grim at one point, Power actually gained points on Castroneves and enters the final race of the season with a 51-point lead.
The 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship will be decided next Saturday night in the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California – a race where Power is the defending champion.
For all intents and purposes there are only three drivers eligible for the championship. Ryan Hunter-Reay finished second in the race to Dixon and remains fourth in the standings but at 92 back the only way he can win the title is if Power doesn’t start the race. Under the double-points format Power will get 16 points just for starting.
Simon Pagenaud finished third and remains third in the standings 81 points out, so his hopes aren’t officially over but are quite slim.
It’s Dixon’s second win of the season and his second in the past three races. It was also the 35th IndyCar win of his career and that ties him with Bobby Unser for fifth on the all-time list. It was also his second win at Sonoma after he won here in 2007.
“It was tough,” said Dixon, who led just the final three laps of the race. “There were so many strategies going on and they were just slightly off so I didn’t know who could make it, who couldn’t. Mike Conway, I think, pushed hard to start with but then, obviously, at the end it looked like he needed to save some fuel. This is big for our team, we’ve had a pretty rats year so far but strategy was perfect. It was a little mixed up, but so happy.
“I’ve been a little under the weather but, as you said. Some people actually did better when they are not feeling so well. We were close all weekend. As soon as the car rolled off, the Target team is has been very strong. Man, I’m just so happy, just so happy to end on this note and thanks obviously to all the fans out here this weekend. It’s a big race for us in wine country and love coming here. I hope everybody’s safe after that big rock and roll last night.”