Scott Dixon wins fourth IndyCar championship in tiebreaker – USA TODAY
SONOMA, Calif. — Here’s a look at all the action and results from Sunday afternoon’s IndyCar race at Sonoma Raceway:
THE CHAMPION: Scott Dixon took advantage of what turned out to be a monumental mistake by Juan Pablo Montoya, winning Sunday’s race at Sonoma Raceway to clinch the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series championship.
Montoya finished sixth, tied with Dixon in the final standings with 556 points. But Dixon was awarded the title on a tiebreaker because he had three victories this season to Montoya’s two. Montoya would have won the title had he gained one more position in the closing laps, and he made a furious charge at fifth place, but couldn’t get past Ryan Briscoe.
It’s the fourth career series title for Dixon, a steady 35-year-old native of New Zealand who also won championships in 2003, 2008 and 2013. He hasn’t finished worse than third in the points since 2007.
“There was still a chance, and that’s what we were hoping for,” Dixon said. “I just can’t thank my teammates enough for all their help this weekend. First off, thoughts and prayers to Justin Wilson’s family. … I don’t know what to say. This season we had some good races — Long Beach was a first for me — Indy was a massive disappointment. I still can’t believe it. It was such a longshot to get this here. Just fantastic to get this championship.”
STEFAN WILSON: No anger over Justin Wilson’s ‘freak’ accident
It came with plenty of drama. Montoya, who has led the series points standings all season, came into Sunday’s race with a 34-point lead in the standings. He seemed to be cruising to a title when he ran into the back of Will Power — a Penske Racing teammate and fellow championship contender — on lap 39. That caused Power to spin out, effectively ending Power’s shot at the title — and suddenly putting Montoya’s title chances in serious jeopardy.
“It doesn’t matter what happened (with Will Power). It’s just a shame,” Montoya said. “I had two ways to win a championship, and I just threw it away. When you put double points in the last race, it doesn’t matter what you do all year. You have one bad race in a double points race, and that’s it.”
Montoya had to make an extra pit stop to replace his wing, sending him all the way back to 24th place. Dixon then cycled into second place on lap 50, putting him ahead of Montoya in the points as they ran on track. Dixon took the lead one lap later.
EXPERIENCE: Could be key to championship
Dixon came into Sunday’s race third in the points, 47 behind Montoya, but took advantage of series officials’ decision at the beginning of the season to spice up the championship by awarding double points for each position in the series finale.
The championship drama came on an otherwise somber weekend for the IndyCar Series, one week after an accident at Pocono that claimed the life of Justin Wilson.
RAHAL’S RACE: Graham Rahal came into Sunday as Montoya’s closest pursuer in the championship fight. But he lost a few spots on the first lap, and couldn’t climb back into contention to take advantage of Montoya’s mistake. Rahal then was hit by Sebastien Bourdais and spun out with nine laps to go.
MONTOYA: Dixon may be biggest challenger
The run left him short of what would have been the first series championship for the son of 1986 Indy 500 winner Bobby Rahal — but still a strong season, considering that he drives for his father’s single-car team with limited resources and had to overcome early season struggles of manufacturer Honda.
POWER PLAY: Power did everything he could early on, dominating at a track where he had won three times. But when he tangled with his teammate, Montoya, it effectively ended his chances of defending his 2014 IndyCar Series title.
SERVIA SERVES: At the request of the Wilson family, veteran driver Oriol Servia drove Justin’s No. 25 car for Andretti Autosport in Sunday’s season finale. Servia, who drove in four IndyCar races in 2014 and hadn’t made a start this year since the Indy 500, acknowledged throughout the weekend that he wasn’t quite in racing shape. He finished 12th.
REMEMBERING WILSON: Wilson’s death was commemorated during the prerace ceremonies, including a moment of silence and the playing of “God Save the Queen.” Wilson’s younger brother, Stefan, was at the race and thanked fans for supporting a fund that has been set up to support Wilson’s wife and two daughters.
GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma
Sunday’s results on the 2.385-mile road course at Sonoma Raceway (start position in parentheses):
1. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Chevrolet, 85, Running.
2. (3) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running.
3. (7) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Chevrolet, 85, Running.
4. (11) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevrolet, 85, Running.
5. (17) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running.
6. (5) Juan Pablo Montoya, Dallara-Chevrolet, 85, Running.
7. (1) Will Power, Dallara-Chevrolet, 85, Running.
8. (18) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running.
9. (24) Rodolfo Gonzalez, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running.
10. (14) Mikhail Aleshin, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running.
11. (8) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running.
12. (19) Oriol Servia, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running.
13. (10) Sebastian Saavedra, Dallara-Chevrolet, 85, Running.
14. (21) Gabby Chaves, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running.
15. (15) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevrolet, 85, Running.
16. (4) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Chevrolet, 85, Running.
17. (20) Stefano Coletti, Dallara-Chevrolet, 85, Running.
18. (6) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running.
19. (25) Jack Hawksworth, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running.
20. (16) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevrolet, 85, Running.
21. (2) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Chevrolet, 84, Running.
22. (12) Carlos Munoz, Dallara-Honda, 84, Running.
23. (23) Tristan Vautier, Dallara-Honda, 82, Running.
24. (13) Luca Filippi, Dallara-Chevrolet, 80, Running.
25. (22) James Jakes, Dallara-Honda, 63, Contact.
Winners average speed: 94.117.
Time of Race: 2:09:14.2620.
Margin of Victory: 6.1115 seconds.
Cautions: 4 for 14 laps.
Lead Changes: 10 among 14 drivers.
Lap Leaders: Power 1-13, Hunter-Reay 14, Kimball 15, Andretti 16-19, Saavedra 20-21, Power 22-34, Saavedra 35-44, Kanaan 45-50, Dixon 51-61, Hunter-Reay 62, Dixon 63-85.
Points: Dixon 556, Montoya 556, Power 493, Rahal 490, Castroneves 453, Hunter-Reay 436, Newgarden 431, Kanaan 431, Andretti 429, Bourdais 406.
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