NASCAR & Auto Racing

Dixon wins and takes IRL points lead after dominating Franchitti collides with teammate

SONOMA, Calif. – Scott Dixon took advantage of Dario Franchitti’s late collision Sunday, winning for the fourth time this season and taking the lead in the IndyCar Series championship standings with two races remaining.

Franchitti, starting from the pole and beginning the Motorola Indy 300 with an eight-point lead over Dixon in the title fight, dominated the 80-lap race at Infineon Raceway, controlling it until the last round of pit stops.

Dixon, the 2003 series champion, stretched his fuel further than the other leaders almost all day and came off pit road just ahead of Franchitti on lap 68. With cold tires, the New Zealander had to yield to Franchitti heading into turn one, but did hold off Franchitti’s Andretti Green Racing teammate Tony Kanaan for second place at that point.

Marco Andretti, last year’s Infineon winner and another AGR driver, was the last of the leaders to pit and he also came out just ahead of Franchitti on lap 69. But the 20-year-old Andretti tried to hold off Franchitti and the two banged together, with the son of team co-owner Michael Andretti spinning out and Franchitti’s car sustaining damage to the front wing.

The incident brought out the first full-course caution flag of the day and, after the restart on lap 72, Dixon and Helio Castroneves both easily drove past Franchitti, struggling with the handling of his damaged car.

“We’re teammates and we look after each other and that shouldn’t happen,” Franchitti said of the contact with Andretti. “I’ll watch it first and then talk to Marco about it. It was a near perfect day until Marco and I got together in Turn 1.”

There was one more caution flag for a collision between Scott Sharp and A.J. Foyt IV, but the race finished under green with Dixon holding off Castroneves to take a four-point lead over Franchitti heading into next week’s race at Belle Isle in Detroit.