Dixon victorious at Indy Japan 300
MOTEGI, Japan -- Scott Dixon won the Indy Japan 300 on Saturday to take over the IndyCar series points lead with one race remaining.
Dixon, who started from pole position and led for 139 laps, took the lead for good on the 164th of 200 laps and recorded his fifth win of the season, finishing 1.4475 seconds ahead of Target Chip Ganassi teammate Dario Franchitti.
The New Zealander now leads the standings with 570 points, followed by Franchitti, who has 565.
"We needed to get maximum points today and we did," Dixon said. "Dario and I are 1-2 for the championship race and that's how you want it."
Ryan Briscoe, who went into Saturday's race with a 25-point lead over Franchitti and a 32-point edge on Dixon, finished 18th after a bizarre accident, and now has 562 points.
The final race of the season is Oct. 10 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Briscoe took the lead for the first time on Lap 103 when Dixon and Franchitti pitted. Briscoe went into the pit on Lap 106 just before a yellow flag came out, when Mike Conway hit the wall at Turn 4. When Briscoe was exiting the pit, he ran over the large cone marking the end of pit lane, getting it stuck under his front left wheel.
Because he was leading when the yellow flag came out, the field slowed to allow Briscoe to keep the lead. When the pits opened again, Briscoe went in to have the pylon removed, giving the lead to Dixon when the race restarted on Lap 118.
"It was frustrating," Briscoe said. "The accident leaving the pit was huge. I had the opportunity to get the lead and I gassed it too much. The team did a great job getting the car back but my day was pretty much done."
Dixon and Franchitti pitted on Lap 160, giving the lead briefly to Rahal.
A yellow flag came out when Ryan Hunter-Reay hit the wall at Turn 4 and Dixon inherited the lead for good on 164 when Rahal went into the pit.
The last 36 laps of the race were a sprint between Dixon and Franchitti, and the 2008 champion held on to win.
"After our second pit stop it was just a matter of trying to catch Scott," Franchitti said. "I needed traffic in front of us to catch Scott and there wasn't any."
The eight-point differential between first and third is the second-closest in series history, behind 2003 when just seven points separated the top three.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press