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Ganassi Sweeps Up In IndyCar’s Return To Pocono

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, July 7 2013

Chip Ganassi and his drivers crowded the podium after Sunday's IndyCar Series race at Pocono Raceway. (Photos courtesy of the IZOD IndyCar Series)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

Scott Dixon led a first-ever Chip Ganassi Racing podium sweep in winning INDYCAR’s return to Pocono Raceway after a 24-year absence on Sunday afternoon.

Dixon earned his first victory since Mid-Ohio last August, while Charlie Kimball tied his career high of second and four-time series champion Dario Franchitti finished third.

“Going into this morning,” Dixon said, “I was not thinking we could win. The team definitely hasn’t given up, and you’ve got to hand it to Honda, as well. I think fuel mileage was the key today. And we still had speed up front without having to save all the time. I don’t know what to say.

“I’m just so happy. I love this place. Pocono, the fans, just everyone has been fantastic. It’s great to be back. It’s been a long drought, almost a year, so it’s fantastic to be back in winner’s circle.”

It was the 100th win in all forms of motorsports for Chip Ganassi Racing and the 200th in Indy car competition for engine manufacturer Honda.

“It’s pretty big, I’ll tell you,” Ganassi said. “I had no idea we’d go 1-2-3. I was just hoping for a decent finish today. Everybody across all of our teams contributed today. It’s nice. Hopefully we’ve turned the corner.”

Dixon, who earned his 30th Indy car victory, is the eighth different winner in 11 IZOD IndyCar Series races this

Scott Dixon got the victory at the Pocono triangle Sunday.

season. He crossed the finish line .4572 of a second ahead of Kimball in a race slowed by only two cautions for 12 laps.

The average speed of 192.864 mph bested Danny Sullivan’s Indy car record 170.720 mph in the 1989 race on the 2.5-mile tri-oval.

The last 1-2-3 team finish was by Team Penske (Will Power, Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe) at Sonoma Raceway in August 2011.

“Both Thursday at the test and then yesterday,” Kimball said, “we really focused on our race car. The NovoNordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team, the whole Chip Ganassi Racing crew as evidenced by 1-2-3, was focusing on race day, knowing that’s when it mattered. So throughout today, the guys made it better on each pit stop, and the car just got quicker and quicker. A lot of credit to Honda, they gave us the fuel mileage and speed today.”

Will Power placed fourth and Josef Newgarden of Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing matched his best finish of fifth at Sao Paulo in May.

Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan’s prospects of claiming the $1 million Fuzzy’s Triple Crown bonus vanished on Lap 107 when he moved to overtake Dixon’s No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car for the lead on the inside entering Turn 1. The right-front wing sustained damage when it clipped the rear of the No. 9 car, and Kanaan pitted three laps later.

“I apologized to the crew several times,” Kanaan said. “I made a mistake, and it cost us big. I had a run on Dixon but didn’t really think that I was closing that fast on him. We had a car that was capable of winning this race and putting us in a position to contend for the Fuzzy’s Triple Crown and the $1-million prize. We still have a chance to win in Fontana and collect $250,000, but I just feel bad for the crew because they worked so hard to give me a very competitive car.”

Still, Kanaan remains eligible for the $250,000 prize – along with Dixon – if either wins the MAV TV 500 on Oct. 19 at Auto Club Speedway.

Castroneves, who finished eighth, stretched his championship points lead to 23 over Ryan Hunter-Reay heading to the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader July 13-14, which pays full points in both races.

“Well, it’s definitely good to come out of this race building our lead in the championship,” Castroneves said. “The Hitachi team did a fantastic job this weekend. The race was very challenging. For us, as a team, we had to make a lot of decisions during the race. Ultimately, the key was saving fuel for a good result, and we’ll take a top-10 finish and move on to Toronto with the good points we earned here. Thanks again to the fans here. They were awesome, and it’s good to be back racing at Pocono.”

Pole sitter Marco Andretti, who finished 10th after dominating the early portion of the race, remains third and Dixon, a two-time series champion, jumped three positions to fourth with eight races remaining.

Andretti’s hopes for a win on the track near his family’s long-time home were undone by poor fuel mileage.

“Oh, man, I mean we knew early (about our fuel mileage), but not early enough,” the Andretti Autosport driver said. “I think we should have responded quicker, but it’s so hard to be reserved right now. I’m so frustrated for RC Cola and everybody. We were just so dominant, and I’m just absolutely gutted.”

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, July 7 2013
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