Dixon stops drought, leads Ganassi sweep

Published: Monday, Jul. 8, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 6C
Last Modified: Monday, Jul. 8, 2013 - 6:33 am

LONG POND, Pa. – Scott Dixon led a big day for Chip Ganassi Racing, leading a 1-2-3 sweep for the team with a victory Sunday at the IndyCar Series event at Pocono Raceway.

Dixon was followed by Charlie Kimball and Dario Franchitti in the Pocono 400, IndyCar's first race at Pocono since 1989.

Entering Sunday, Dixon had led only one lap this season, at the Indianapolis 500.

"It has been a tough year," Dixon said. "We've had some great races, and we've had a lot of bad ones. That's motor racing, man."

Dixon caught a big break when Tony Kanaan hit Dixon's front wing on a pass for the lead on the 107th lap. Kanaan had to pit three laps later and faded to the back.

Dixon led the final 27 laps of the 400-mile race for his 30th IndyCar victory. He hadn't won since August at Mid-Ohio, a 13-race stretch.

"Going into this morning, I was not thinking we could win," Dixon said. "The team definitely hasn't given up, and you've got to hand it to Honda as well. I think fuel mileage was the key today. And we still had speed up front without having to save all the time."

Kanaan had no idea he hit Dixon and spent most of the rest of the race a lap down. He finished 13th.

"I made a mistake, and it cost us big," Kanaan said. "I had a run on Dixon but didn't really think that I was closing that fast on him. We had a car that was capable of winning this race."

Andretti Autosport qualified three drivers on the front row. But James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay were involved in accidents, and pole sitter Marco Andretti battled fuel problems.

Hinchcliffe, who started third, had his day end quickly when he tagged the wall entering the first turn of the first lap.

After limping out of his car, Hinchcliffe was cleared at the infield care center and worked the rest of the race in ABC's broadcast booth.

"The car just snapped loose on me," he said. "We went a bit aggressive on setup because we had an understeering car all week, and we didn't want that in the race. Maybe we overstepped it a bit."

Hunter-Reay started second and was running in the top five when Takuma Sato's car hit the right side of his car near the entrance of pit lane. Hunter-Reay's car sustained damage to the right front wheel and front wing, and he finished 20th.

"We were just coming into pit lane, minding our own business, and we get creamed from behind," Hunter-Reay said.

Pocono is considered a hometown track for the Andrettis, who hail from nearby Nazareth, Pa., and Marco Andretti had turned Pocono into a one-man show. He broke the track record with a two-lap average of 221.273 mph in qualifying.

Sunday, Andretti led the most laps, 88, but his team realized fuel would be an issue.

"We knew early" about fuel concerns, he said. "I think we should have responded quicker."

Andretti didn't have enough fuel to go to the distance full speed and ran out just after he finished 10th.

"We were just so dominant," he said. "I'm just absolutely gutted."

NHRA in Norwalk, Ohio – Johnny Gray won his fourth Funny Car title of the year at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals.

Gray and Ron Capps drove their Dodge Chargers to identical times of 4.103 seconds in the championship round. But Gray posted the quicker reaction time to get the victory. Gray's Charger went 314.02 mph in the final round, compared to 314.09 mph for Capps.

Khalid alBalooshi (Top Fuel), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also won their categories.

Formula One in Nuerburg, Germany – Sebastian Vettel surged ahead by the first curve and held off Kimi Raikkonen to win the German Grand Prix by one second.

"It was a tough race. It was one of the toughest for a long time," Vettel said after his fourth victory of the season. "I am happy the race was 60 laps and not 61 or 62. The Lotus (cars) were incredibly fast and pushing very hard, and Kimi was putting a lot of pressure on me at the end – he was a bit quicker."

Vettel, the three-time defending series champion, extended his points lead to 34 over Fernando Alonso, who finished fourth.

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