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Dixon wins as Dario makes crucial error

Scott Dixon drove a perfect race and was rarely under any threat of failing to win at Motegi ahead of Will Power, but that was drama with a vital mistake by Ganassi team mate Dario Franchitti.
Scott Dixon admitted that he was "just cruising" at times during the final Indy Japan to be held at Motegi - and it certainly looked as though he couldn't have had a better afternoon than he did.

"I have to give a lot of credit to Team Target; they gave me a fantastic car," he said, adding that at points he was just having to manage his fuel conservation to make the mileage. "Great pit stops and fuel strategy, and everything was flawless."

He did come under a strong challenge from Will Power at the start, and only just squeezed the front of Power's #12 at pit exit to retain his lead coming out of the first round of stops, but otherwise it was clear that neither Power nor anyone else on the Motegi road course had anything for Dixon on Sunday afternoon as he ran to his second win here and his 27th IndyCar victory in total.

Dixon's team mate Dario Franchitti was another story, however, and the incident that he sparked on the first restart on lap 26 could prove to be the most decisive moment of the entire championship - especially if it ends up costing Franchitti this year's championship.

An initial caution had come out for Joao Paulo de Oliveira grinding to a halt in turn 12 on lap 22 after a fuel pump failure, shortly after bumping wheels attempting an overly ambitious move down the inside of Takuma Sato. "It's disappointing to retire as one of my goals for my first race was to finish the race but the experience overall was quite valuable," said the 2010 Formula Nippon champion who was making his IndyCar race d├ębut. "I think we were doing a good race and looking good for a top-10 finish ... That's racing."

At the restart Dario Franchitti tried a rash, half-hearted move down the inside of Ryan Briscoe into turn 1, and there was contact: Briscoe spun, catching Graham Rahal in the process and also blocking the track for Franchitti, who came to a standstill while Charlie Kimball managed to take avoiding action into the dirt rather than ploughing into the stationary cars and making a bad situation worse. A new full course caution came out straight away.

All four cars were able to continue, but they were now at the back of the lead lap. Franchitti also needed to pit for a new front wing, and was then also penalised for causing an avoidable accident. He didn't dispute that the penalty was earned.

"The incident was totally my mistake, totally my mistake ... I made risky move on the restart," he said. "It was a stupid move on my part ... I thought there was a gap and Ryan was going wide on the entry and that was that. It was just a stupid move."

He added that he was already busy making his apologies to the other three drivers whose races he had also affected, as well as to team boss Chip Ganassi who had appeared distinctly unhappy when interviewed during the race over how Dario's actions had wrecked three-quarters of the team's cars' hopes.




Related Pictures

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Scott Dixon congratulates his crew as Ganassi celebrate victory in the final Indy Japan race at Motegi. [Photo credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
Helio Castroneves run wide off into the sand trap on the road course at Motegi. [Photo credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
Will Power and Scott Dixon go into turn 1 side-by-side at a restart at Motegi. [Photo credit: LAT Photo USA for IndyCar Media]
Scott Dixon takes the chequered flag at the end of the final Indy Japan to he held at Motegi. [Photo credit: Daniel Incandela for IndyCar Media]
Dario Franchitti and Ryan Briscoe clash at the first restart on the Motegi road course. [Photo credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
Scott Dixon celebrates in victory lane in Motegi. [Photo credit: LAT Photo USA for IndyCar Media]
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to a fourteenth-place finish Saturday, July 13, 2014 at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Power lost the championship points lead to teammate Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, who finished eighth. (Photo by Dan Streck/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 TNT Energy Drink Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6, races to a third-place finish Saturday, July 12, 2014 at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V6, takes over the championship points lead with an eighth-place finish. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races teammate Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 TNT Energy Drink Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6, Saturday, July 12, 2014 at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Dixon won the pole and finished in fourth-place. Kanaan led for most of the race and finished third. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V6, took over the championship points lead with an eighth-place finish Saturday, July 12, 2014 at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. (Photo by Brett Moist/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan lead the pack at the start of the Iowa Corn Indy 300 (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay celebrates (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
The #28 Andretti Autosport team celebrates victory (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay gets a new ride (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay celebrates (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay with the winner`s trophy (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay celebrates (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, qualifies third Friday, July 11, 2014 for Saturday`s race at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa.  (Photo by Brett Moist/LAT for Chevy Racing)

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T - Unregistered

September 18, 2011 1:58 PM

Race was ruined by dreadful officiating - from the start where cars where not lined up correctly to the 'non' penalty for Darios incident. Helio demotion from 7th to 22nd is laughable and it will be interesting to see the stewards reaction to Helios call for Brian Barnhart to go (and his tweet that BB is a clown). Surely BB cannot continue with such poor decisions race after race.

Anjin - Unregistered

September 20, 2011 6:30 AM

Most unfortunate driver of the day must be Sato. JP's lunge up his inside in to the hairpin was more than optomistic, it was downright suicidal. Takuma then fought his way back from 13th up to 9th, and then took another two places at the final restart, only to find Viso parked across his path at turn two. He, and the legions of Japanese fans who turned out to support him, deserved better.



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