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Scott Dixon Leads Ganassi Podium Sweep in IndyCar Series Return to Pocono Raceway

July 7th, 2013 at 3:47 PM
By Mark Eddinger

It was a history making day at Pocono Raceway. The IZOD IndyCar Series returned to the 2.5 mile triangle for the first time since 1989 and after the Pocono IndyCar 400 Fueled by Sunoco's 160 laps were complete it was Scott Dixon who gave Honda their 200th series win and Target Chip Ganassi Racing their 100th win. Dixon's Ganassi teammates Charlie Kimball and Dario Franchitti finished second and third to sweep the podium for the first time ever for the team.

"Going into this morning I was not thinking we could win, so the team definitely hasn't given up," Dixon said in victory lane. "You have to hand it to Honda as well. I think fuel mileage was a big key today and we still had the speed out front."

'Scott Dixon' photo (c) 2012, Nic Redhead - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

The win was the 30th of Dixon's career. It was also the first win for a Ganassi team in 2013. They went through the first 10 races of the season for the first time since 2005 without a win.

It ended as a Ganassi day but when the 400 mile race started it looked like it might be an Andretti Autosport day. They had the top three positions for the three-by-three start with Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and James Hinchcliffe. Andretti, Hunter-Reay and Hinchcliffe went into Turn 1 on lap 1 that way but not all three came out of Turn 1.

It was Hinchcliffe who got loose and spun and backed hard into the outside wall. His day ended before getting through the first corner and he was scored with a 24th place finish.

The race restarted on lap 6 and Andretti opened up a lead with Tony Kanaan moving into second. Kanaan was trying to win the second leg of the Fuzzy's Triple Crown and set himself up for a chance at $1 million in the season finale.

Andretti was dominant early and led up until he made a green flag pit stop on lap 30. When stops cycled through it was Andretti back in the lead on lap 36 in front of Ryan Hunter-Reay, Takuma Sato, Tony Kanaan, and Will Power.

Andretti was again the first of the lead cars to pit on the second round of green flag stops on lap 61. Hunter-Reay and Sato also followed him to pit road. In doing so Sato could not get his car slowed fast enough and flew onto pit road where he could not avoid slamming into the right-rear of Hunter-Reay. Hunter-Reay then nosed into the outside pit wall and came to a rest.

The caution would come out on lap 63 for Hunter-Reay's stopped car. He would lose over 20 laps while his team made repairs and finished in 20th. Sato could not continue due to his damage and wound up in 22nd. 

After pit stops for those who did not pit under green, like all the Ganassi cars and Will Power it was Tony Kanaan in the lead with Andretti second, Helio Castroneves third, Simon Pagenaud fourth, and Ed Carpenter fifth for the lap 72 restart. Andretti reasserted his dominance and jumped right back to the lead by Turn 1.

After things settled in it was Andretti leading over Kanaan, Castroneves, Pagenaud and Scott Dixon.

Again Andretti was the first to pit under green on lap 95. Kanaan and Pagenaud pitted on lap 97. Both of them got off the pits in front of Andretti. Marco was able to pass Pagenaud on lap 99 while Dixon was in the lead. Dixon pitted on lap 100 and kept the lead when he exited by .280 seconds over Kanaan, Andretti, Power, and Pagenaud.

A big moment in the race happened on lap 106 when Tony Kanaan dove late into Turn 1 to pass Scott Dixon for the lead. He clipped his wing on the rear of Dixon causing it to come loose. He completed the pass and continued to lead until lap 110 when his crew called him into pit to change the wing which was a safety concern. Kanaan's shot at the Triple Crown was gone.

Will Power was able to pass Dixon so he was then in the lead until lap 112 when Marco Andretti again took over the top spot. On lap 120 the running order was Andretti, Power, Dixon, Pagenaud, and Castroneves.

Andretti's team relayed to him that they were going to be short on fuel and needed to start saving gas in order to make the finish on only one more stop. So on lap 121 Andretti backed off and dropped to third behind Power and Dixon.

Still Andretti was the first car to have to pit on lap 126. Pagenaud pitted on lap 128, and Power on lap 129 from the lead. Charlie Kimball meanwhile was on his way to the front and with the pit stops was in the lead. Dixon pitted from second on lap 130 and then Kimball and Dario Franchitti pitted on lap 131.

On lap 132 Kimball was still getting up to full speed when Dixon was able to power past on the outside to take the race lead. Ganassi found themselves in the top three positions after the final pit stop.

From there Dixon and his teammates Kimball and Franchitti kept their foot in the gas and had no problem holding off challenges from other drivers all the way to lap 160.

At the checkered it was the podium sweep for Ganassi. Charlie Kimball tied his career best finish with the second place. Will Power finished in fourth for Team Penske. Josef Newgarden made a late charge and finished tied for a career best in fifth. Simon Pagenaud finished sixth, Justin Wilson seventh, Helio Castroneves eighth, Ed Carpenter ninth, and Marco Andretti faded to tenth. He had to go into fuel saving mode and ran out of gas after the checkered flag. It was a disappointing finish for Andretti who led the most laps with 88 just 24 miles from his hometown of Nazareth.

Simona De Silvestro finished in 11th which was her best finish ever on a non street or road course. James Jakes was 12th and Tony Kanaan was the last lead lap car in 13th. Ryan Briscoe finished 14th, Pippa Mann 15th, Sebastien Bourdais 16th, Alex Tagliani 17th, Graham Rahal 18th, Tristan Vautier 19th, Ryan Hunter-Reay 20th, EJ Viso 21st, Takuma Sato 22nd, Sebastian Saavedra 23rd, and James Hinchcliffe 24th.

Dixon made it eight different winners in 11 races this season.

Helio Castroneves extended his points lead to 23 points over Ryan Hunter-Reay. Marco Andretti is third 55 points back. Scott Dixon moved up to fourth and is 65 points back and James Hinchcliffe is fifth 84 points behind.

Next up is races 12 and 13 when there will be a doubleheader on Saturday, July 13 and Sunday, July 14 at the street course in Toronto.

Tags: Charlie Kimball, Dario Franchitti, Helio Castroneves, IZOD IndyCar Series, James Hinchcliffe, Josef Newgarden, Marco Andretti, Motorsports, Pocono Raceway, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Scott Dixon, Takuma Sato, Target Chip Ganassi Racing, tony kanaan, Will Power

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