By Josh Farmer, IndyCar Reporter
Scott Dixon managed to stretch his fuel to back up an amazing pace throughout the entire weekend to claim his fourth win at Watkins Glen International in the IndyCar Grand Prix of The Glen Presented by Hitachi.
Dixon picked up where he left off on Saturday and broke away from the field right from the drop of the green flag and stretched out a huge lead over the course of the first stint. Dixon pitted on lap 14 and caught a lucky break when the yellow flag flew on lap 15 for Mikhail Aleshin’s blown tire on the backstretch. The yellow allowed him to retake the lead under yellow as a handful of cars had not stopped yet, including championship rivals Simon Pagenaud and Will Power.
Following the yellow, Dixon re-inherited and continued his blistering pace around the 3.30-mile road course.
His run up front continued well into the latter stages of the race and stretched his lead out to as high as 14 seconds at one point and would only relinquish the lead under the next round of pit stops which saw Helio Castroneves managed to stretch his fuel and lead a few extra laps after Dixon pitted. Once Castroneves pitted, the lead cycled back to Dixon while Castroneves re-entered the field in sixth place.
A yellow flag a few laps later shook up the race and the title championship as Will Power was eliminated in a heavy crash on the backstretch. Power was racing for 14th with Charlie Kimball and was attempting to complete the pass when the two collided. The move sent Power into the Armco barrier hard, which ended his day. INDYCAR officials soon after reported that Power was experiencing concussion-like symptoms and has not yet been cleared to drive.
The yellow flag, which flew just barely outside the next fuel window, brought most of the field in for pitstops and benefited Castroneves who stopped five laps earlier than Dixon. With more fuel in his tank, the Team Penske pit crew managed to execute a lightning quick pitstop which propelled Castroneves to the lead over Dixon and lined him up in third place behind Carlos Munoz, Takuma Sato and Marco Andretti, who stayed out under yellow.
When the race restarted with 18 laps to go, Dixon timed the pass on Castroneves perfect on the frontstretch and quickly made his way around Andretti. Sato and Munoz then proved to be no match for the Kiwi and saw their lead inhaled in just a matter of a couple of laps.
Fuel became a big thought on everybody’s mind as the laps wore on while Dixon cruised away. Castroneves rode a distant second place while trying to save fuel but ultimately was forced to pit for a splash-and-go with just three laps to go, which elevated James Hinchcliffe to second place.
Dixon cruised away up front and managed to squeeze every drop of ethanol out of his No. 9 Target Chevrolet to take his second win of the season.
“Yeah, I think this was actually a Chevy Volt like we were running on electric, or something,” he said. “We got amazing fuel mileage.”
“This car, you could just roll through the corner. I felt like I haven’t even had to downshift sometimes. I can’t thank Chevy and Target and everybody here enough this weekend. It’s been almost a sweep this weekend and you don’t get these too often, especially with the competition level that we have in the Verizon IndyCar Series. I’ll definitely remember this one.”
Hinchcliffe ran out of fuel with just three corners to go which moved Josef Newgarden into second place while Castroneves fought his way back to third to round out the podium. Conor Daly was running on fumes as well and managed to finish in fourth place while Sebastien Bourdais rebounded from a crash on the first lap to finish in fifth place.
Points leader Simon Pagenaud finished a quiet seventh place and leaves Watkins Glen with a 43-point advantage heading into the season finale at Sonoma Raceway in two weeks. Despite Dixon claiming the win today and moving up to third in the standings, Dixon has been eliminated from the points championship, which will leave it between the Team Penske rivals to decide it all.