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IndyCar Series

Dixon's pit-road penalty helps Power win at Sonoma

Sonoma, CA (Sports Network) - Will Power won Sunday's IndyCar Series race at Sonoma Raceway after he benefited from a controversial penalty assessed to Scott Dixon by race officials for making contact with one of Power's crew members on pit road late in the race.

During a round of pit stops under caution on lap 65, Dixon ran into the right- rear tire carried by one of Power's crew members after Dixon had exited his stall. He held the lead and Power was running in second at the time they pitted.

The left-rear of Dixon's car struck the tire, causing the crew member to fly into two other members of Power's team. All three suffered minor injuries.

Dixon exited the pits first, followed by Power. Both drivers had their pit stalls next to each other.

IndyCar race officials reviewed videos of the incident multiple times before they assessed a "pit lane safety violation" to Dixon. While Dixon had to serve a drive-thru penalty after a restart with 15 laps to go, Power took over the lead and kept it for the remainder of the 85-lap race.

Dixon, who had led the most laps with 27, fell to 20th after his penalty, but he gained five positions in the closing laps to finish 15th.

"That's probably the most blatant thing I've seen in a long time," Dixon said. "I had a straight line, and he (crew member carrying tire) walked into us. Pretty annoyed with that. We had a strong car all day."

Race director Beaux Barfield claimed that Dixon's car crossed over the edge of Power's pit box, thus prompting the penalty.

"Ultimately, we have a duty to protect everybody in the pit lane," Barfield said. "If we have somebody who uses less than great judgement when they leave their pit box and we have an incident, then we have to make a statement by penalizing. And we're going to make that call. There are a couple of different (video) angles, and clearly the 9 car (Dixon) crosses right into the 12 car's (Power) space, and that's where the violation occurred. He was in the 12 car's box for a good half-car length."

The seventh and final caution for a multi-car accident set up a four-lap sprint to the finish. Power pulled away from second-place runner Justin Wilson following the last restart. He beat Wilson to the finish line by 1.2 seconds for his 19th career IndyCar victory but his first since April 2012 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He ended his 25-race winless drought.

It's the third time that Power has won at this 2.385-mile, 12-turn Northern California road course. The Team Penske driver scored back-to-back victories here from 2010-11.

"We've had a lot of hard hits this season," said Power, who moved up to eighth in points following his win. "This is great for our confidence, and we're back in the winning ways."

Helio Castroneves finished seventh and widened his points lead from 31 to 39 over Dixon. Had Dixon won the race, he would have been just six points out of the lead. Just four races remain.

"I don't think we did anything wrong," Dixon said. "It was a lot of points. To me, that was really bad sportsmanship. I know our guys always try to get out of the way of somebody coming through. And he (crew member) just walked straight into us."

Dario Franchitti, the pole sitter and Dixon's teammate at Chip Ganassi Racing, finished third, followed by Marco Andretti, Simon Pagenaud and Ryan Hunter- Reay, the defending series champion.

08/25 20:39:12 ET

Lexington, KY local and state news by the Lexington Herald-Leader | Kentucky.com
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