IndyCar Champion to be Decided in Miami: 2nd Closest Points Battle in Series History
Scott Dixon won in Japan to reclaim the points lead in the IndyCar Series heading towards a Miami Championship Oct. 10(photo courtesy: Chris Graythen, Getty Images Sport)
The second-closest points battle in the storied history of the IndyCar Series will be decided Oct. 10 with the Championship finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Phenomenal seats remain for the South Florida series-crowning Championship.
Scott Dixon leads the standings with 570 points, followed by Target Chip Ganassi teammate Dario Franchitti (565) and then Team Penske’s Ryan Briscoe (562). The eight-point margin represents the second-closest positions gap from first to third place in series history, trailing only the seven-point spread of 2003. There have been 14 points leader changes atop the standings through 16 races.
Two-time IndyCar Series champion Dixon—reigning Champion at the Firestone Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami—made the most of his pole position at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan to win the race and take the points lead from Briscoe. Motegi is the last race before the IndyCar Series settles its season-long Championship fight at Homestead-Miami Speedway Oct. 10 with the Firestone Indy 300.
Said Dixon: "A fantastic day for Team Target—a 1-2 [finish with Franchitti]. For me it's tremendous….Put on a good show, over the moon. Definitely a good day for points, and I’m very happy."
The pole position start gave Dixon a bonus point in his chase for a third IndyCar Series Championship, to be crowned at on the 1.5-mile, 18-to-20-degree variable-banked oval at Homestead-Miami Speedway Oct. 10. Entering Motegi, Briscoe had led the Championship points standings by 32 points.
“The good thing is that it's only eight points to Scott,” Briscoe said post-race. “I feel real good going into Homestead-Miami. We've been strong on all the one-and-a-halves this year. This track is unique….[For] Homestead-Miami, Team Penske I'm confident is going to be the team to beat. Eight points is the difference between first and second. It looks like is it's going to be a pretty tough battle to see who can win the race."
Pole-sitter Dixon led for 139 laps and took the lead for good on Lap 164 to record his fifth win of the season. Teammate Franchitti finished second in the race and remains in second place in the Championship points standings with only the Firestone Indy 300 Oct. 10 at Homestead-Miami Speedway remaining on the 2009 IndyCar schedule.
"We needed to get maximum points today and we did," Dixon said. "Dario and I are 1-2 for the Championship race [in Miami], and that's how you want it."
“I think we could see the Target cars were very strong,” said Franchitti. “Both cars were very equally matched. Probably my car more so in traffic, and Scott maybe a little bit in clean air. But both cars, whichever one was in front, was going to win….We were so equal today, I needed traffic in front of us to slow Scott so I could get a run on him, and there wasn't any. "
“Congratulations to Scott Dixon and Target Chip Ganassi Racing for doing exactly what they had to do to tighten up this points race,” said Firestone Racing Executive Director Al Speyer. “They scored maximum points and showed that they have their sights clearly set on a repeat. As title sponsor of both this event and the Firestone Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, we couldn't be happier to see the championship go down to the wire once again."
Great seats are available for the ChampionshipssmOct. 9-10 NextEra Energy Resources SPEEDJAM, featuring the series-crowning Championship finales of the Firestone Indy Lights, Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car and IndyCar Series. The Firestone Indy 300 is set for Oct. 10 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, with the Champion to be crowned after the checkered flag waves under the lights.