The battles for the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series drivers’ and manufacturers’ championships will go down to the wire, as first and second-place finishes for Scott Dixon at the double header race weekend in Houston, Texas, resulted in a 25-point championship lead for Dixon and a tie between Honda and Chevrolet for manufacturer honors going into the season finale at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Dixon can clinch his third title with a finish of fifth or better, no matter where sole remaining rival Helio Castroneves finishes.
Dixon, who scored his fourth victory of the season – and the ninth for Honda – in Saturday’s opening round, finished second today after a race-long battle with eventual winner Will Power. However, the finish to an otherwise exciting contest was marred by a massive last-lap crash that resulted in injuries to four-time series champion Dario Franchitti, a race official, and several spectators.
Franchitti was chasing Takuma Sato for eighth place when Sato’s A.J. Foyt Racing machine got out of shape on the back side of the 1.6-mile temporary street circuit. Franchitti hit the back of Sato’s car and was launched into air, impacting the debris fence before landing back on the race circuit. E.J. Viso was unable to avoid Sato’s spinning car and also became involved in the crash. Franchitti was transported to a local hospital for treatment of back and ankle injuries. Both Sato and Viso escaped significant injury.
Starting from the outside of the front row, Dixon took over the lead on Lap 10 when championship rival Helio Castroneves was forced to pit with a broken transmission housing. Dixon then kept his Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda at the front of the field until being passed by Power shortly after a Lap 39 restart. The pair distanced themselves from the rest of the field after every pit stop and caution, and while Dixon repeatedly challenged for the lead, he was never able to pull off a successful passing attempt.
Behind the lead pair, Dale Coyne Racing’s Justin Wilson has his second strong finish of the weekend, taking fourth after battling with eventual third-place finisher James Hinchcliffe, Sebastien Bourdais and fellow Honda racer Simon Pagenaud.
For Wilson, today’s result was his fourth consecutive top-four finish and moved him from sixth to fourth in the series championship. Although a sixth-place finish today for Pagenaud removed him from championship contention, he remains third in the drivers’ championship standings.
The 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series concludes in two weeks, with the season ending and championship deciding MavTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway, televised live on the NBC Sports Network on Saturday, October 19.
Scott Dixon (#9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda Dallara) started 2nd, finished 2nd, takes the lead in the drivers’ championship and can clinch the title with a finish of fifth or better at Auto Club Speedway in California: “The most important thing for all of us is to make sure everyone [involved in the last-lap accident] is okay. Another win would have been nice, but we came up a bit short today. It was a good, aggressive fight with Will [Power], but we didn’t quite have the pace to match him, so congratulations to him. Now it all comes down to the final race, but our approach to Fontana won’t change. We know Honda will be working really hard, and we’re going to try to win the race. If we win in California, the championship will take care of itself.”
Justin Wilson (#19 Boy Scouts of America Dale Coyne Racing Honda Dallara) started 6th, finished 4th, his fourth consecutive top-four finish: “We were pushing harder and harder, every lap, throughout the race. It was a lot of fun, but it certainly feels like there are more bumps on Day Two! It’s a physical and tough track. We had great pit stops, strategy and a great car, and we were fighting near the front for the entire race. A podium finish would have been nice, but I’m pleased to be back in the top five again and to move up to fourth in the championship.”
Roger Griffiths (Technical Director, Honda Performance Development) on today’s race: \"Our first concern is for the well-being of Dario [Franchitti] and the fans affected by the last lap accident. Our thoughts are with them and they have our best wishes for a speedy recovery. Of course, we’re pleased to see Scott [Dixon] take the championship lead, and for Justin [Wilson] to move up to fourth. It’s a shame we were unable to score our tenth win today, but we will do everything we can in the next two weeks to bring the Manufacturers’ Championship home to Honda.”