Dixon leads Ganassi 1-2-3 to win Pocono Indy 400
Team Penske's Will Power was the top finisher for the Bowtie Brigade bringing the #12 Verizon Chevrolet home fourth. Josef Newgarden finished fifth, matching his career best in #67 SFH Racing/Rotondo Weirich Honda. Simon Pagenaud and Justin Wilson, also driving Hondas, finished sixth and seventh, respectively.
The most dominant car on the day, however, belonged to Marco Andretti. The Nazareth, PA native and driver of the #25 RC Cola Chevrolet led from pole and seemed to be on his way to scoring what would have been an extremely popular win in front of the hometown crowd.
Unfortunately, it was not to be. Andretti did not get the fuel mileage the Ganassi drivers did, and had to run the car leaner to prevent from making an extra pit stop. Despite having the fastest car, he finished tenth, running out of fuel as he came to the checkered flag. And Andretti's misfortune was only part of a forgettable day for Andretti Autosport that began with such promise.
Canadian James Hinchcliffe lost control of the #27 Go-Daddy Chevrolet on lap 1, and hit the turn one wall, ending his day. Ryan Hunter-Reay ran in the top-3 early on, but was hit from behind on pit road by Takuma Sato on pit road. Hunter-Reay did bring the #1 DHL Chevrolet back on track and finished 20th. E.J Viso finished 21st in the last Andretti Autosport entry.
The race was distinguished by a blistering pace. While there were two caution periods early in the running for a total of 14 laps, the race went green from lap 71-160. Dixon pitted on lap 65 under the caution, and did not make his third pit stop until lap 100. The 35-lap stint allowed the Kiwi to stretch his fuel mileage beyond some of the front-runners like Andretti, who pitted on lap #35. Dixon would make his final stop on lap 130, and was able to hold off Kimball coming to the checkered flag.
It should be noted that Dixon did come into contact with Tony Kanaan on Lap 107. The two were racing for the lead, and Kanaan clipped Dixon's left-rear wheel guard while passing him into turn one. The Brazilian got the worst end of the deal, and was forced to pit road for a new front wing, eliminating him from contention.
Of course, Kanaan, the winner of the Indianapolis 500, the only driver eligible to win the $1,000,000 Fuzzy's Triple Crown. Kanaan and Dixon will now be eligible to win a $250,000 bonus should either win the season finale at Auto Club Speedway.
Also, with an eighth place finish Team Penske's Helio Castroneves stretched his championship lead to twenty-three points over Hunter-Reay. Andretti is third, 55 points behind Castroneves. Dixon, who became the seventh different winner in 2013, now sits fourth.
Overall, IndyCar's return to The Tricky Triangle was a successful one. While official attendance estimates were not released, it is clear the track met its goals. The drivers raved about the layout, and the unique challenge it presents. Further, the fans in attendance seemed very happy to see Indy car racing back.
Next up for the series will be a return to Exhibition Place in Toronto for a Saturday/Sunday doubleheader. The Saturday race will feature a standing start (we hear), while the Sunday race will see the traditional rolling start.
Brian Carroccio reporting from Pocono
Winners average speed: 192.864
Time of Race: 02:04:26.4178
Margin of victory: 0.4572 of a second.
Cautions: 2 for 12 laps
Lead changes: 16 among five drivers
Point Standings: Castroneves 356, Hunter-Reay 333, Andretti 301, Dixon 292, Hinchcliffe 272, Kanaan 271, Pagenaud 269, Wilson 253, Power 242, Sato 241.
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