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Dixon wins as Dario makes crucial error

While it might have been a disappointing day for two thirds of the Penske operation, there was no mistaking the big smile of relief on Will Power's face as he collected the Mario Andretti Trophy for winning the ten-race road course part of the 2011 IndyCar championship for a second straight year.

"It's an honour to win the Mario Andretti Road Course award again, I have such respect for Mario and all he's accomplished," said Power, who was happy enough with second today. "We tried everything we possibly could to get Dixon, but he was very aggressive and he really deserved the win."

Despite the obvious frustration of not being a match for Dixon at Motegi, Power was still streets ahead of the rest of the field for most of the afternoon and he finished almost 5s ahead of Marco Andretti, Alex Tagliani and Oriol Servia (who had all made up ground in the pit stops) despite only two laps of green flag running at the end.

Will had badly needed to come out of the final road race of the season with this points lead over Franchitti (who theoretically has a slight edge in the remaining oval races) if he is to have a strong chance of adding the overall drivers' title to the Mario Andretti Road Course award.

"It was a good day for us points-wise in the championship, but I'm really not worried about points right now," said Power."I just need to keep finishing in front of the #10 car the rest of the way and we'll be fine. We'll keep chipping away like we have been."

Franchitti - who ended up finishing in eighth position after running damage control, and benefiting from the incidents at the final restart and the penalty that was applied post-race to Castroneves - was remaining philosophical about his own chances.

"We still have it all to play for, but I keep making it more difficult ... That was a mistake today. Shouldn't have made it," he admitted. "If you win or if you lose, you always look at the championship as a whole. Today; Loudon; Texas; Indy; and on and on. You always look at these things, but Will can do the same with his races."

The poor qualifying performance and the rash move that cost him a strong showing at Motegi may be worrying signs that the reigning champion is feeling the pressure of the title fight, but he'll now have two weeks to regroup and face the last two races of the season. He'll be hoping that the move to ovals at Kentucky and Las Vegas will hand the momentum back to the #10 and that he'll emerge victorious.

Right now, the championship is genuinely too close to call.

Full race results available.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
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]
Scott Dixon Road America
Scott Dixon - Chip Ganassi Indy Car [credit: IndyCar TV Twitter]
Will Power Texas
Charlie Kimball
Graham Rahal Detroit celebration
Detroit IndyCar Andretti RHR
Graham Rahal Detroit IndyCar 2017
Takuma Sato Detroit IndyCar
Graham Rahal Detroit
Detroit IndyCar Helio Castroneves
Scott Dixon Indy 500
Takuma Sato 2017 Indy 500 winner`s circle

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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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