Dixon trims Castroneves' lead to eight points with Houston win
Houston, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Scott Dixon has bounced back in the IndyCar Series championship point standings in a big way after winning the first race in the weekend doubleheader at Houston's Reliant Park.
Dixon's win coupled with a season-worst 18th-place finish for Helio Castroneves allowed Dixon to trim Castroneves' lead from 49 points to just eight, as two races remain -- Sunday's Race 2 in Houston (1:30 p.m. ET) and the Oct. 19 event at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.
It was Dixon's fourth victory of the season and the 33rd of his IndyCar career. In July, he won at Pocono and then scored a weekend-sweep in Toronto.
"It's a 41-point turnaround today," Dixon said. "Hopefully we can have another good race tomorrow. It would be nice to be in the lead going into Fontana."
Dixon, a two-time IndyCar champion, led a race-high 44 laps. He crossed the finish line ahead of Simona De Silvestro when the event concluded under caution for an accident involving Mike Conway with three laps to go.
"Coming here, we probably liked the chances just for the fact that it's a street course," Dixon noted. "We struggled a little bit in qualifying. The car felt pretty good, started to get up to speed on the red (tires)."
Castroneves, who qualified a season-low 21st, experienced a gearbox issue and spent nine laps on pit lane for repairs. He had been the only driver to complete every lap in the first 16 races this season prior to Houston.
"Early in the race, the car was bottoming out in a couple of places, and then I just couldn't shift," Castroneves said. "It's tough, but it's something that's out of our control. I tried to earn as many points as I could and really just focus on making the car better so we can be ready for (Race 2).
"On the positive side, we still have the lead in the championship, and I think we will be in good shape for Race 2. We need to have a good qualifying and bounce back with a strong race."
This will be the eighth year in a row that the IndyCar championship will be decided in the season-finale. In 2008, Dixon had a 43-point margin over Castroneves with two races left and wound up securing the title by 17 points.
"I've been in Helio's position before where you've got to try and keep it simple and get the points that you need," Dixon said.
De Silvestro's second-place run marked her first podium appearance in the series.
"Finally, we've been waiting for this for a long time," De Silvestro said. "We have our podium. Hopefully, we can even better it tomorrow."
Justin Wilson finished third, while Simon Pagenaud, who won the most recent race last month in Baltimore, placed fourth. Josef Newgarden took the fifth spot.
James Jakes, Graham Rahal, Sebastien Bourdais, E.J. Viso and rookie Luca Filippi completed the top-10.
Will Power led a total of 40 laps but had a slow pit stop late in the race, which cost him an opportunity to win. Power wound up finishing 12th.
If Dixon wins Sunday's race in Houston, he will collect a $50,000 bonus for the weekend sweep. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver earned a $100,000 for sweeping Toronto.
10/05 20:59:27 ET