By Peter M. De Lorenzo
Detroit. I have long considered Scott Dixon to be one of the finest driving talents of his generation and one of the best drivers in the world, considering all racing series, and his relentlessly brilliant - and victorious - driving display on Sunday at the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma only served to reaffirm my assessment. Against all odds, Dixon, 35, delivered a magnificent 100th Indy car victory for Chip Ganassi (and the team's 11th championship), plus his fourth career Verizon IndyCar Series championship on a tiebreaker over Juan Pablo Montoya (Dixon had three wins to Montoya's two, but they finished tied with 556 points). With his stunning victory Dixon now joins A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Dario Franchitti and Sebastien Bourdais as drivers with at least four Indy car championships. It was Dixon's 38th Indy car win, which is one behind Al Unser for fourth all time.
No one predicted Sunday's outcome, not that Dixon wasn't blistering fast and was a threat to win by any means, but the fact is it was so unlikely things would go Dixon's way during the race and allow him to have a shot at the title. They did, however, and Dixon once again finds himself at the top of major league open-wheel racing in this country.
Montoya (No. 2 team Penske Verizon Chevrolet Turbo V6) had led the IndyCar standings since winning the season opener on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., and entered the double-points Sonoma race with a 34-point cushion on second-place Graham Rahal and a 47-point lead on Dixon. But he made a glaring mistake, banging into his Team Penske teammate, Will Power (No. 1 team Penske Verizon Chevrolet Turbo V6), sending Power into a spin, and the resulting pit stop for a front wing ended up costing Montoya the championship (he needed to finish fifth or better but ended up sixth).
Dixon (No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Target Chevrolet Turbo V6), who started ninth in the 85-lap race on the 2.385-mile, 12-turn Sonoma Raceway road course, used his incredible skill, savvy race craft and always impressive ability to maximize his fuel mileage to deliver a most improbable series Championship. But to Dixon, it was never improbable, because to give up wasn't in his or the Ganassi team's makeup, and he just went for it. "There was still a chance and that's what I was hoping for," Dixon said. "I don't know what to say. This season we had some big races, and this was the biggest. We were such a longshot. I knew the car was strong, but you never know until the last lap. That's what it came down to. You hope for it. We had to do our best job and that's what we did today and, luckily enough, it worked out."
Ryan Ryan Hunter-Reay (No. 28 Andretti Autosport DHL Honda Turbo V6), the 2012 series champion, finished 6.1115 seconds behind Dixon. Two other Chip Ganassi Racing Teams entries - Charlie Kimball (No. 83 Chip Ganassi Racing NovoLog FlexPen Chevrolet Turbo V6) and Tony Kanaan (No. 10 Chip Ganassi Racing NTT Data Chevrolet Turbo V6) - finished third and fourth, respectively. Ryan Briscoe (No. 5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Arrow/Lucas Oil Honda Turbo V6) finished fifth (see more coverage in The Line - WG).
What started out as a sad, somber day filled with tributes and remembrances of Justin Wilson ended on a jubilantly high note with one of the most memorable wins of Scott Dixon's career and certainly one of the most memorable days in the history of Chip Ganassi Racing. Congratulations to Scott, Chip and the entire Ganassi Racing Team, and congratulations to Chevrolet, who won the Verizon IndyCar Manufacturers Championship.
(Photo by Richard Dowdy/IndyCar)
Scott Dixon crests the Turn 3 hill during the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma on his way to the win and his fourth IndyCar Championship.
(Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for GM/Chevrolet Racing)
Glory Days: Exuberance was the order of the day on SUnday for Scott Dixon and the entire Chip Ganassi Racing Team.
(Photo by John Cote/IndyCar)
Scott Dixon and team owner Chip Ganassi celebrate as the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Champions. Dixon is Ganassi's longest-tenured - and most-decorated - driver.
(Photo by John Cote/IndyCar)
Scott Dixon and his wife, Emma, celebrate winning the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship.
(Photo by Chris Owens/IndyCar)
2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Champion Scott Dixon and his wife, Emma, on the stage during the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship Celebration on Monday night in San Francisco.
Editor's Note: Many of you have seen Peter's references over the years to the Hydrogen Electric Racing Federation (HERF), which he launched in 2007. For those of you who weren't following AE at the time, you can read two of HERF's press releases here and here. And for even more details (including a link to Peter's announcement speech), check out the HERF entry on Wikipedia here. -WG
Publisher's Note: As part of our continuing series celebrating the "Glory Days" of racing, we're proud to present another noteworthy image from the Ford Racing Archives. - PMD
(Courtesy of the Ford Racing Archives)
Darlington, South Carolina, 1963. Chris Economaki interviews Fireball Roberts before that year's Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. Roberts (No. 22 Holman-Moody Young Ford) would win the race that year, which was held on Labor Day, Monday, September 2nd. Marvin Panch (No. 21 Wood Brothers English Motors Ford) would finish second, and Fred Lorenzen (No. 28 Holman-Moody LaFayette Ford) finished third. Please go to racing-reference.info to read up on more great races from back in the day.
Publisher's Note: Like these Ford racing photos? Check out www.fordimages.com. Be forewarned, however, because you won't be able to go there and not order something. - PMD