Monday Racing Roundup: Dixon Wins in Sonoma
Scott Dixon can’t win the Verizon IndyCar Series title this year, but he’s the hottest driver in the series at the moment.
The Kiwi won for the second time in three races at the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma on Sunday, taking the lead from Mike Conway in Lap 83 of 85 in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi car and holding on for his 35th career win. Dixon moved into a tie for fifth with Bobby Unser on the all-time Indy car victory list.
Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay finished second, 1.135 seconds behind, while Simon Pagenaud took third. Conway ran out of fuel late on the last lap and coasted to a 14th-place finish.
“This is just big for our team. It was tough because there were so many strategies going on and they were just slightly off so I didn’t know who could make it and who couldn’t,” Dixon said. “Conway, I think, pushed hard to start with but then, obviously, at the end it looked like he needed to save some fuel.”
Will Power sat on the pole and had a 40-point championship lead over Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves heading to the starting line at Sonoma Raceway, but a spin midway through the race dropped him to 20th. He fought back to take 10th, however, and left town up 51 points after Castroneves had a contact-filled day and took 18th.
“It took me by surprise when I spun. That’s just racing,” Power said. “I tried to save fuel towards the end there, just going for points.”
The season-ending MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway is on Saturday and awards double points. Power, Castroneves and Pagenaud are the only drivers eligible for the championship. Hunter-Reay and Dixon remain championship eligible but will be eliminated if Power participates in Friday practice at Auto Club Speedway, which would assure the Team Penske driver half points for the weekend.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Logano wins at Bristol
Joey Logano became the fifth three-time winner of the season in Sprint Cup, prevailing at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday night ahead of Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski.
Matt Kenseth finished third after opting not to pit when most of the field came in under caution with 67 laps remaining, desperately trying to win and guarantee his place in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Still, Kenseth is 13th in the points standings and tops among drivers who have not won a race. The top 16 make the Chase, which begins in three weeks after races at Atlanta and Richmond.
“It probably would have been a safer thing to pit, I guess,” Kenseth said. “I don’t know, you make split-second decisions. At the time I thought that was the best shot.”
Logano, age 24, joined Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and points standings leader Jeff Gordon as three-time winners this season.
“This whole 22 team feels like we’re contenders to win this championship … it would be really weird if we didn’t think we were,” Logano said. “We’ve got three wins right now, we’ve got a good shot, we’ve been fast at every single racetrack. It’s definitely the best shot I’ve ever had at winning the championship, I can promise you that.”
Gordon, the winner last month at Indianapolis in the Crown Royal Presents the John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Powered by BigMachineRecords.com, finished 16th at the Bristol bullring, one lap down.
NASCAR Nationwide Series: Blaney upstages Busch at Bristol
Kyle Busch put on another dominant performance at Bristol on Friday but couldn’t pull off one final restart on the half-mile oval.
Ryan Blaney dashed underneath Busch’s leading car as he spun the tires with six laps remaining and held on for his second career Nationwide win as a part-time driver for Roger Penske.
“Kyle didn’t go on that last restart,” said Blaney, 20, a full-time driver in the Camping World Truck Series. “He said his tires were jacked up, but we got to the second line and I went – you can go and luckily we were able to hold him off here.”
Busch, who finished second in his attempt to win a fourth consecutive Nationwide race at Bristol, claimed that Regan Smith got into him on the restart and lifted his rear tires.
Championship leader Chase Elliott finished third and Ty Dillon, the winner last month at IMS in the Lilly Diabetes 250, finished fourth and jumped to third in points.
MotoGP: Back at British Grand Prix this week
The MotoGP World Championship resumes this week at Silverstone, northwest of London, after taking last weekend off.
Marc Marquez leads the championship by 77 points over Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa and hopes to regain his winning ways at the British Grand Prix. Marquez stretched his season-long win streak to 10 at the Red Bull Indianapolis GP earlier this month but had his run snapped by Pedrosa two weeks ago at Brno, Czech Republic.