WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (AP) – Scott Dixon was in a league of his own at Watkins Glen International. It’s sort of becoming old hat.
Fastest in every practice and fastest in qualifying, Dixon won the IndyCar Grand Prix at the Glen with a dominant drive Sunday in his No. 9 Chevy for Chip Ganassi Racing, leading all but 10 of the 60 laps around the 11-turn, 3.37-mile natural terrain layout.
It didn’t make up for his crushing eighth-place finish at Toronto in June, a race he led for 56 laps after starting from pole and lost because of pit strategy. It still felt awfully good, nonetheless.
“I wish it would happen a lot more often. These are weekends you don’t forget,” Dixon said after his 40th victory overall moved him alone into fourth place on the career list. “You just think of problems or strategy not going your way. We got amazing fuel mileage.”
The New Zealander won for the second time this season and fourth time at The Glen to tie NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon for second place in track history behind Tony Stewart’s five. Josef Newgarden was second, followed by Helio Castroneves, Conor Daly, and Sebastien Bourdais.
Simon Pagenaud finished seventh and increased his lead over Will Power to 43 points in the standings with one race remaining in the season. Pagenaud had to back off to save fuel in the closing laps and lost two spots on track.
Power crashed just past the midpoint of the race and finished 20th. He was not permitted to return because of concussion symptoms. Pagenaud said afterward that Power, who missed the first race of the season because of concussion symptoms, was OK. The two Penske drivers are the only ones still in contention for the title.
It was the first IndyCar race at The Glen since Power won from the pole in 2010.
When the series returned to the historic road course in upstate New York’s wine country in 2005, Dixon won the first three races, his victory that first year snapping a 40-race winless streak.
Dixon won the pole Saturday with a speed of over 147 mph in a record-shattering time that eclipsed the previous record by nearly six seconds on the track’s new pavement.
In Sunday morning’s warmup, the New Zealander practiced his starts and nearly lost it once. Once the green flag waved, he consistently opened big leads and saved enough fuel over the final laps to win by 16.5 seconds in a flawless performance both on the track and in the pits.
Dixon announced after the race that he was donating his winnings to the family of the late Justin Wilson, who died in August of last year after being struck in the head by debris from a crash in an IndyCar race at Pocono Raceway.
Power’s drive toward the championship suffered a damaging blow when his No. 12 Chevy made contact with Charlie Kimball on lap 39 coming out of the high-speed esses. Kimball hit Power’s left rear tire in the narrow section of the track at the top of the hill. He got a huge run on the outside and made contact, sending Power hard into the barrier and bringing out a caution as debris scattered all over the track.
Other things to know about the IndyCar race at Watkins Glen International:
RAHAL RUINED: Graham Rahal, who won a scintillating duel with James Hinchcliffe last week at Texas, saw his day end early. Trying to dive to the inside of Kimball coming out of the first turn on lap 20, his No. 15 Honda was running eighth when it clipped the rear of Kimball’s No. 83 Chevy.
“I went down on the inside. He decided not to give me any room,” Rahal said. “It’s just a shame. We were looking really, really good. We were able to move up. We saved a lot of overtakes, our tires were better than everybody. I’ve got to take the blame, too. I should know better.”
Rahal, who started 20th after being penalized in qualifying on Saturday, finished 21st.
ROOKIE RUSH: Rookies Conor Daly and RC Enerson gave Dale Coyne Racing its best team finish of the season, placing fourth and ninth, respectively. Both took advantage of a full-course caution to make their final pit stop with 19 laps left in the race, four laps beyond the normal fuel window. Both succeeded and moved up as drivers ahead of them were forced to pit.
“We were just trying to hit the fuel number to make it to the end,” the 19-year-old Enerson said after just his second IndyCar race. “I think saving fuel is more of a mental thing. You have to keep reminding yourself to lift. It was tough, but we were able to fly up the field there at the end.”
WHO’S HOT: Newgarden has four top-four finishes in the last eight races.
WHO’S NOT: Ryan Hunter-Reay finished 14th for Andretti Autosport as his late-season slump continued. Aside from a solid third-place run at Pocono two weeks ago, he’s finished no better than 12th in the last six races after reeling off a seventh, third and fourth in consecutive weeks.
UP NEXT: Sonoma Raceway Sept. 18. Dixon is the defending race winner.
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