Dixon Scores At Infineon Raceway When Franchitti Falters

Sonoma, CA ? Scott Dixon shadowed race leader Dario Franchitti throughout the Motorola 300 at Infineon Raceway and took advantage of the leader?s late-race collision to score his fourth IndyCar Series victory of the season. In winning, the talented New Zealand native jumped into the all-important point lead with just two races remaining in 2007.

As calculated, Dixon assumes the lead with 560 points and Franchitti slips to second with 556. Tony Kanaan holds down third place with 498 markers. Also, Dan Wheldon and Sam Hornish Jr. were mathematically eliminated from the championship battle.

With the victory, Dixon swept the three permanent road-course races and gave his Target Chip Ganassi Racing team its 16th IndyCar Series victory. The TCG team also won the Nextel Cup race here with Juan Pablo Montoya behind the wheel.

Franchitti dominated the race for the first 63 laps and seemed to have victory in his grasp until he collided with teammate Marco Andretti on the 69th circuit. Andretti, the 2006 race winner, had taken the lead two laps early during a series of pit stops, but he, too, had to pit a lap later.

Returning to the track, the young driver endeavored to retain the lead only to have the fast-moving Franchitti catch him as the two crested the hill entering turn two.

The pair collided gently with Andretti spinning off the track. In the collision, Franchitti suffered a broken front wing and possible suspension damage. The incident triggered the first full-course caution of the race. When the race resumed, Franchitti tried to retain the lead only to have the fast-moving Dixon slide by him in turn three.

Concurrently, Helio Castroneves passed Tony Kanaan for third and caught Franchitti seconds later to gain second place. Castroneves hounded Dixon in the closing laps but could never draw alongside of the new leader.

?This is exactly what we needed,? said Dixon in victory lane. ?It was a tough day and a tough weekend to be honest. AGR (Andretti Green Racing) played it tough today, and we had to deal with TK (Tony Kanaan) holding us up a lot and trying to build a gap for Dario (Franchitti). It is fantastic for us with the points and it?s another win this year.?

Regarding his pass of Franchitti, he added, ?What goes around comes around. They (AGR) were playing tactics and it seemed ironic that both of their cars got into an accident.?

The disconsolate Franchitti commented, ?Scott (Dixon) and I almost had the same situation, but I think Scott was a little further forward, so I was able to wait. But Marco (Andretti) was out there trying to win the race, and we were out there trying to win a championship. With Marco, he came out at the wrong point. We are teammates and we look after each other, and that shouldn?t happen. I?m going to talk with him, look at the video and we?ll see from there.?

Andretti had a different perspective, ?I gave him racing room and I was hoping (Dario Franchitti) would race me clean. I hate to think he?d do anything intentional. We had been saving fuel and we were still catching them (the leaders) and that was the win right there. If we would have played fair, that would not have happened.?

Car owner Michael Andretti sided with his son and indicated that Franchitti should have been patient. Responded Franchitti, ?Michael (Andretti) is in an awkward position, being a team owner and a father. Sometimes he doesn?t have as clear a view as he should have as a team owner maybe.?

Castroneves was thrilled with the outcome, which was his best finish since winning at St. Petersburg in March. ?I wanted to win so bad,? the jovial driver said. ?We had a great opportunity at the end of the race. TK (Tony Kanaan) knew I was on the move and even though we touched wheels, he let me go. I was surprised with him. But Scott (Dixon) was very clever and didn?t give me an opportunity to pass.?

Franchitti held on for a third-place finish and Kanaan ended up in fourth place. Regarding his defensive tactics, Kanaan said, ?I had to protect Dario as much as I could over the final few laps. Motor racing is a very selfish sport but I?m proud of what I did today.?

Hornish fought gamely to earn fifth place ahead of Danica Patrick, who had a frustrating race. The talented driver ran second early-on but dropped to sixth after her first pit stop. On an ensuing stop, she stalled her car in the pits and was not in contention thereafter.

?You can?t win races when you have problems on every stop,? Patrick said.

Seventh through tenth and on the lead lap were Wheldon, Tomas Scheckter, Vitor Meira and Kosuke Matsuura.

A. J. Foyt IV, Andretti, Sarah Fisher and Ryan Hunter-Reay were unable to finish the race. Hunter-Reay exited after making contact with Andretti at the start of the race.

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