Even though he sits third in the standings, Scott Dixon has endured one of the unluckier years of his career. After getting crashed out in two of first three races of the year (St. Pete and Long Beach), he then recorded a 12th in Sao Paulo before heading into the Month of May. However, in the eight races since, he has seven top tens and six top fives, the lone black mark being a 23rd at Edmonton (again after contact of someone else’s doing). However, it still seemed surprising that, in such a rough and tumble year, he sat third in the standings.
Sunday, however, showed that the bad luck has subsided, at least for the moment, for one of the best drivers on the grid. Dixon led the first third and the last third and seemed in control the whole way, even when he wasn’t leading. “It was helluva effort by Team Target; they didn't put a foot wrong.,” said a happy Dixon in Victory Lane. “The car was superb this weekend. Sorry to make it so boring toward the end of the race, but I didn't mind (winning by more than 6 seconds)”
It seemed inevitable that he would leap ahead of James Hinchcliffe in their pit stop sequence; the same can be said of his final pass on Dario Franchitti. Even Franchitti, who has had the measure of his teammate since returning to the series in 2009, admitted that there was no one who had anything for him. “Let's be honest, Scott had one of those days. He was on a different course today and deserved to win it.,” said the points leader. “From the time we came here for the test (July 28) he's been on a mission. Great job by the Target boys going 1-2. Good points day for us despite Will's best efforts at the start to spin me around. We managed to get out of that and I think it was a great job in a tough race."
The win vaults Dixon 53 points clear of fourth place Tony Kanaan for third in the standings. What’s more, with Will Power’s struggles, he now sits 31 points behind Power for second. Catching Franchitti (93 points ahead) is a stretch, but catching Power for second isn’t out of the question.
Franchitti Has Championship in his Grasp
With six races remaining, it’s hard to imagine someone clinching the title ahead of the Las Vegas finale. After all, a lot can happen over a six-race stretch. But, in this case, Dario Franchitti looks set to grab his third consecutive title (fourth in a row if you don’t count his missed season of 2008).
Even though Power ran well, strategy and an ill-timed caution ended any hopes of victory…and possibly his title chances as well. ‘Today was tough,” said Power, who was visibly frustrated post-race and barely uttered a few sentences in his Versus interview. “The Verizon car was fast even while I was saving fuel. We were making great fuel mileage and we were going to go a lap or two longer than the leaders on the second stop, which would have put us in great position to challenge for the race lead in the last stint. Basically, today we suffered for doing a great job of driving a smart race. I have to thank the Verizon crew. They gave me great pit stops today we just got caught out by that last yellow flag.”
It is not over yet, but the only thing keeping Franchitti from a title at this point is a colossal mistake, and Franchitti simply does not make mistakes. It’s his to lose right now.