Saturday, September 19, 2009

Scott Dixon takes 2009 Indy Japan 300 win! Championship lead tighens

Across the Pacific Ocean, the IRL Indy Car series unleash their Honda engines at the auto manufacturer's 1.5 mile Twin-Ring Motegi oval. Scott Dixon started on the pole with Mario Moraes starting alongside on the front row.

On the upstart, the Twin Ring Motegi race's tone was dominated 2009 was set of Target Chip Ganassi Racing cars. Target #9 and LifeLock #10 cars driven by teammates Dixon and Franchitti led the lions share of race's 200 laps. without a serious challenge within the event with exception to pit stops. On the second round of green flag pit service Ryan Briscoe used showed some Team Penske fuel economy as he skated around the Motegi oval leading several laps.

Going past halfway without a single caution, the complexion the race was broken by a single car spin out-crash by Mike Conway on lap 106. The resulting caution was opportune to Penske Racing's Ryan Briscoe as he had just been coming into the pits for service. Taking advantage of the wide green flag interval to the second place car and the slowdown of the field under caution Briscoe appeared to have a chance to clinch the 2009 IRL Indy Car championship in Japan. Indeed an important moment for the championship, Ryan Briscoe's pit stop would be marred by a driver mistake when acceleration from the pit caused the tires to spin. The loss of traction sent Briscoe into the inner pit wall (fortunately being near the end of pit road meant no crews were in serious danger) and he struck a warning cone which would become wedged within the #6 Penske racer for several laps around the circuit. In a necessary but tim consuming repair to the front suspension, Briscoe returned 11 laps and allowed Dixon and Franchitti to bolt ahead of him in the championship points.

The second of two cautions was another single car crash of Ryan Hunter-Reay the AJ Foyt Racing #14 car after making a pit stop a few laps prior. The deciding factor for the race was superior pit stops performed by the #9 Chip Ganassi Racing pit crew. On the final pit stop as both Target Chip Ganassi cars addressed their crews for service, the #9 team kept Dixon ahead of his teammate Franchitti for victory in the Indy Japan 300. His 5th win of the 2009 Indy Car racing season, Scott Dixon also assumes a slight 5 point lead over Dario Franchitti. Behind the duo of Target Chip Ganassi, Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing celebrated with Graham Rahal's 3rd place result tying a season best at Richmond International Raceway in June and a 4th by Oriol Servia. Mario Moraes, Danica Patrick, Marco Andretti, Dan Wheldon, Raphael Matos, and Helio Castroneves wraps up the top 10.

Ryan Briscoe, who finished 15 laps down in 18th place, saw his 25 point led evaporate to an 8 point deficit.

With a three-way battle for the championship, the 2009 Indy Car series will be decided at the Homestead-Miami Speedway where Scott Dixon won the 2008 event in what was than the season opener. However, the 2009 race has to take into account the return of Dario Franchitti and the vastly improved game of Ryan Briscoe. The Firestone Indy 300 will run in October 10th.

Graham Rahal

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