SONOMA, Calif. (Aug. 30, 2015) – Scott Dixon’s dramatic victory in today’s GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma earned the Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver his fourth career Verizon IndyCar Series championship on a tiebreaker over Juan Pablo Montoya.
Dixon, 35, delivered the 100th Indy car victory for Chip Ganassi Racing Teams and the team’s 11th championship. He joins A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Sebastien Bourdais and Dario Franchitti as drivers with at least four championships. It was Dixon’s 38th Indy car win, which is one behind Al Unser for fourth all time.
Montoya, who finished sixth in the race, and Dixon tied with 556 points.
Dixon, who started ninth in the 85-lap race on the 2.385-mile, 12-turn Sonoma Raceway road course, won the tiebreaker because he had more wins during the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season. The victory today was his third (Long Beach, Texas and Sonoma) of the 16-race season. Montoya earned a total of two victories (St. Petersburg and the Indianapolis 500) in the No. 2 Team Penske Chevrolet.
Montoya, who stood atop the standings since winning the season opener on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., entered the double-points Sonoma race with a 34-point cushion on second-place Graham Rahal and 47-point lead on Dixon.
Montoya won the 1999 Indy car title on a tiebreaker over Franchitti. The 2006 Verizon IndyCar Series championship also was decided on a tiebreaker, with Sam Hornish Jr. prevailing over Dan Wheldon.
“There was still a chance and that’s what I was hoping for,” Dixon said. “I don’t know what to say. This season we had some big races, and this was the biggest. We were such a longshot. I knew the car was strong, but you never know until the last lap. That’s what it came down to. You hope for it. We had to do our best job and that’s what we did today and, luckily enough, it worked out.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay, the 2012 series champion, finished 6.1115 seconds behind Dixon. Hunter-Reay, driving the No. 28 DHL Andretti Autosport Honda, won twice and had two other top 10s in the final four races.
Two other Chip Ganassi Racing Teams entries – Charlie Kimball (third) and Tony Kanaan (fourth) – finished in the top five and the fourth Ganassi car, driven by Sebastian Saavedra, led 12 laps early and finished 13th.
“My teammates were phenomenal. They helped all year and we won this together,” Dixon said. “There is no one person that achieved this on their own and I just thank everybody so much.”
Dixon’s season started with 15th- and 11th-place finishes before he won at Long Beach in mid-April. He closed with seven top-10 finishes in the final eight races of the season.
Power, the 2014 series champion who had won three of the past five races at Sonoma Raceway and reset his year-old track record in earning the Verizon P1 Award for the pole Aug. 29, led 26 laps and finished seventh. He wound up third in the standings (63 points behind Dixon). Rahal finished a career-best fourth in the championship (-66 points) and Helio Castroneves was fifth.
Chevrolet Wins 2015 Manufacturers Championship
For the fourth consecutive Verizon IndyCar Series season, Chevrolet won the Manufacturers Championship. Chevrolet, which clinched the title before the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma began, won 10 races and collected every available Verizon P1 Award for winning the pole position this season.
Chevrolet re-entered Indy car competition as an engine supplier in 2012 and has won the Manufacturers Championship every year since. This year, Chevrolet and fellow supplier Honda took on the additional role of developing and supplying aerodynamic bodywork components that attach to the Dallara IR-12 chassis used by all Verizon IndyCar Series teams.
“Our fourth consecutive Manufacturers Championship is the result of consistent preparation, teamwork and execution by our Chevrolet teams, drivers and technical partners,” said Jim Campbell, U.S. vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports for Chevrolet. “Together, we focused on delivering strong engine and aero performance all season long.”
Manufacturers earn points toward the championship at each race based on the positions of each’s top three finishers. They can earn bonus points for winning the Verizon P1 Award, leading the most laps and for each 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 engine that reaches its 2,500-mile threshold. Points are reduced for engines that fail to reach the 2,500-mile minimum before being changed out.
“We’d like to congratulate Chevrolet on clinching the 2015 Manufacturers Championship and to thank Honda for its resilient competition throughout the season,” said Will Phillips, INDYCAR Vice President of Technology. “The Chevrolet IndyCar V6 has had a strong and consistent performance this season, which has been reflected by success on the racetrack in both race finishes and engine durability.
“We made adjustments to how points were scored in the Manufacturers Championship this year,” Phillips added, “which accurately reflected Chevy’s strong performance throughout the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season, highlighted by a win in the Indianapolis 500.”
Wilson Family ‘Overwhelmed’ by Racing Community’s Support
Stefan Wilson said he and his sister-in-law, Julia, have been “overwhelmed” by the outpouring of support and tributes in the wake of the passing of his brother, Justin, on Aug. 24 from a head injury sustained in a race a day earlier.
“I’m very grateful for all the support that has been show to Justin’s family, which was his No. 1 priority,” Stefan Wilson said a few hours before the start of the race. “None of it was expected and it’s been amazing.”
Wilson singled out Verizon IndyCar Series drivers, who are donating their helmets worn in the race to an eBay auction, with net proceeds to be directed to the Wilson Children’s Fund. Details are forthcoming.
Verizon IndyCar Series teams affixed a decal, created to honor Wilson’s memory, on all the race cars throughout the championship race weekend. The American flag flew at half-staff and the British national anthem was played in addition to the U.S. national anthem during the pre-race ceremonies.
A moment of silence was observed and “25” — Wilson’s car number this season with Andretti Autosport — was written by two sky writing airplanes above the venue. The Union Jack flew over the pit stand of the No. 25 entry driven by Wilson’s longtime friend Oriol Servia. The LED track positioning system on all the cars displayed “25” on the pace laps.
“It’s hard to watch (the on-track action) and know that we won’t get more amazing memories,” Stefan Wilson added.
Those wishing to contribute to the fund established electronically can do so atwww.wilsonchildrensfund.com or by mail to: Wilson Children’s Fund, c/o Forum Credit Union, P.O. Box 50738, Indianapolis, Ind. 46250-0738.
Bryan Herta Crew Donates Performance Award to Wilson Children’s Fund
The No. 98 entry of BHA with Curb-Agajanian driven by Gabby Chaves won the Firestone Pit Performance Award at Pocono Raceway for spending the least amount of time on pit lane during the ABC Supply 500 on Aug. 23. Upon receiving the awardSaturday, the team’s crew members donated the $10,000 prize to the Wilson Children’s Fund in honor of Justin Wilson.
“It was (the crew’s) decision to make that contribution,” said team owner Bryan Herta, whose crew won the award for the first time. “It just felt right. I’m just so proud of our guys. It showed a lot of character. This wasn’t the team’s money or my money. It was their money. They donated it and it shows how we feel as an INDYCAR family about taking care of our own.”
GOPRO GRAND PRIX OF SONOMA QUOTES:
CHIP GANASSI (Team Owner, Chip Ganassi Racing Teams): “Scott (Dixon) is obviously, I think, he’s arguably the driver of our generation– the Indy car driver of our generation, for sure. I think his stats speak for themselves. His numbers against the other all-time winners and what have you, he’s up on the list there. There’s not anybody I’d rather have driving our cars, I can tell you. I mean, he’s just a quality driver, but a quality person, a father, a husband, just the kind of guy you want in your organization. It’s that simple. All around, on the track, off the track, he’s the complete package.”
JIM CAMPBELL (U.S. Vice President of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports for Chevrolet): “This is a true team effort like it always is in motorsports. It’s about preparation, it’s about great strategy and great execution, and on top of that, you must have great teams, and we in fact do, and I want to thank Chris Berube for the job he’s done working with our four major teams that really contributed those valuable manufacturer points all season long that enabled us to get our fourth manufacturer’s championship. And it was a special year in the fact, the driver’s championship today with Scott Dixon, obviously Juan Pablo Montoya and the Penske team won the Indy 500 and then our fourth manufacturer’s championship, so that was pretty special. It’s one of the goals you have every year when you come into the series is to win each of those, and it hasn’t happened since we reentered in 2012, so this was a special year. Also special thanks to our partners at our Chevrolet powertrain team, and I have Dan Nicholson here, who’s our vice president of global powertrains for our company. Dan, thank you for your team’s effort along with all the great work from him, Elmore and Pratt & Miller and Hitachi. It’s been a true team effort.”
WILL POWER (No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “Unfortunately, the yellows came at the wrong time for the Verizon Chevy, which has been the case all year for us. It is an absolute lottery. I feel horrible for Juan. Josef (Newgarden) went up on the inside and I went to switch back off of him and I damaged Juan’s wing. Then the yellow started and that set the day there. Before that we were all in good shape there. But I want to say congratulations to Scott (Dixon) and obviously a very close finish there. But most importantly, I want to say that the Verizon Chevy boys did a great job this year and we’ll look forward to coming back next year and going for the Championship again.”
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “The No. 2 Verizon Chevy team had a great season. We just had a disappointing finale. There was a lot to be proud of this year, from winning the season opener to giving Roger Penske another Indianapolis 500 title. Unfortunately today we gave one away but we will come back stronger next year. I have to thank everyone at Verizon, Chevrolet, Hawk Performance and PPG for their great support. I’m looking forward to even more success with them.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): “First of all, it was a good season for the No. 3 Team Penske Chevy team. We finished in the top five in the championship and to battle down to the last race of the year was great. We know we did have a fast Hitachi Chevy today but because of a bad qualifying we put ourselves in a tough position. I’m disappointed for everyone at Team Penske and especially for Juan Pablo (Montoya) and the No. 2 car team, leading the championship up until the end. To have the team finish second just doesn’t seem right. But this team is strong. We’ll come back even stronger next year. A big thanks to Hitachi, AAA, Shell-Pennzoil and Chevrolet for all their support this year.”
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 8 AFS Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “It’s really cool to be a part of such a big day for Chip Ganassi Racing Teams and Scott (Dixon) is so deserving of today’s win and the championship. We were having a pretty good run and we were actually running in the lead for quite a while, but we had some bad luck with the way that last yellow fell. It just completely messed up our strategy. Regardless, it was a good day for the team and I’m happy I was here to be a part of it.”
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Chevrolet): “Obviously we won it on a countback (tiebreaker). It’s was tied for points and to get it, obviously, winning three races, you know. I can’t thank Chevy enough. I can’t thank Target. Huge weekend here in Sonoma for all the Target guests, 400-500 people. It’s a partnership. My teammates were phenomenal. They helped all year and we won this together. There is no one person that achieved this on their own and I just thank everybody so much.”
TONY KANAAN (No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “I’m just so excited for Scott (Dixon) and I couldn’t be happier to be part of Chip Ganassi Racing Teams. We worked really hard all race to make it up the field and the car felt really good. Once we got up there behind Charlie (Kimball) and Scott, we knew we just needed to be consistent and be a good teammate to Dixon. Again, so happy for Scott and Team Target and I’m glad we were able to bring the No. 10 NTT DATA Chevrolet home with a top-five finish.”
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 11 Team Hydroxycut-KVSH Chevrolet): “A disappointing end to the season for the Hydroxycut – KVSH Racing team. I ran a pretty strong race, came back from 16th to seventh. I made a couple of good moves, passed a bunch of people. Unfortunately, at the end there, Graham (Rahal) was struggling a little bit and I got a run out of turn six. He kind of stayed in the middle of the track. Then I tried to cross, he moved with me and I couldn’t get out of the wake. It sucked my car in, we touched and I spun him around. We got a penalty for it, which ended his race and mine. It’s disappointing, but we will keep on fighting and come back stronger next year.”
TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda): “First, big congrats to Dixie and the whole Ganassi organization–they did a great job to achieve winning a championship as well as the last race. It’s fantastic to see them on top. It was a tough start for us from 18th so we had to try a different strategy from the leaders – different pit stop sequence – in order to move forward. Indeed we did. The crew did a fantastic job on all the stops getting me into position to be able to fight on the track. Had a couple overtakings which I really enjoyed. Thank you to the fans for their great support and of course ABC Supply for the whole season, and of course Alfe for their support. A top 10 is a good way to finish off the season and we learned so much because we had a two car team this year which helped this team to move forward. Thank you to the team for all their support!”
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda): “Unfortunately our car was pretty terrible today from the start. The guys did a great job in the pits to kind of keep us in it, frankly, because we didn’t really deserve to be in that position. Other guys had issues. (Scott) Dixon was pretty much dominant; we didn’t have anything for him. I can’t thank this team, Steak ‘n Shake, D-A Lubricant, Maxim and everyone that gave us the opportunity to be here. Honda has done a great job and I’m proud to lead the charge for them. Obviously the (Sebastien) Bourdais thing hurt us from third to fourth in the championship. What can you say though? It’s been a great year, we have nothing to be ashamed of and have a lot to be proud of. We definitely wanted to go out better than this. The car has been like this all weekend, it’s been an animal. I wasn’t worried so much about the championship from the start. I knew it looked like Dixon would pretty much dominate. We proved to people that this team can contend and we belong in a championship hunt. I just wanted to maintain third and it was looking good until Bourdais punted us. Finishing fourth in the championship is not the worst but obviously we hoped for better. This team did a tremendous job all season and obviously they deserved better than fourth. I feel like I drove pretty well this year. I feel like I improved a lot in areas that I needed to improve. We won a couple of races and we were in the hunt a lot. We were in the hunt today until we got punted and today was a bad day, but we were still running sixth which was a miracle. I’m proud of the effort the team put in and I’m proud of the effort I put in and we have a lot to improve on yet.”
RODOLFO GONZALEZ (No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): “I am really happy with the result. I think we got absolutely everything out of the car and the team today. I think we had a perfect race from where we started and I’m so happy we got the points needed to earn the prize money. It got a bit difficult toward the middle because I had to save some fuel with some really good guys behind me. I knew I just had to make the fuel numbers and after the last stop, I was able to go racing. I did get a few spots because of others mistakes, but that is racing. I want to give a big thanks to the team and to Dale Coyne Racing. They have made me feel at home all season and helped me adapt and learn as much as possible about the series. A special thanks goes out to Dale (Coyne) because he is a dream maker and he made my dream of being an INDYCAR driver come true.”
TRISTAN VAUTIER (No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): “The race was pretty good until halfway through. Our strategy was playing out well. I think we were 12th with only one stop left to go. Unfortunately, I got touched on the restart and it took away some of our camber shims in the right rear. The car wasn’t straight after that. We tried to make it better but never fixed it enough. It was really difficult to drive but I wanted to finish the race. We were having a good weekend and turn things around, but that is the way it goes. Rodolfo (Gonzalez) did a really good job this weekend. His finish is great for Dale (Coyne) to have both cars in the Leaders Circle for next season. Overall, a positive end of the weekend for the team, just disappointing for the No. 19 crew.”
LUCA FILIPPI (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka CFH Racing Chevrolet): “It was an unlucky day for both cars. Our car was very strong, very consistent and had a good pace. We were coming through the field. Then we had an issue with the sensor which wasn’t anything we could predict, it just happened. The guys fixed it as quickly as they could, but we lost a few laps. We were one of the fastest cars out there even at the end of the race when we weren’t able to compete with anyone. I have to thank everyone on the team. It was a very special season for me. For sure I have to thank Ed (Carpenter), Sarah (Fisher), Wink (Hartman) and Fuzzy’s Vodka for taking a chance on me and believing in me. I really hope we can keep working in racing together.”
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet): “With the season we’ve had, I’m disappointed for the team. Team Penske did win the Indy 500 and that’s obviously the biggest race of the year and we had three cars in the championship, so we should feel good about that. Our guys do such a good job on the cars and we tried with the Avaya Chevy today, but it wasn’t meant to be as we just had too many issues. Congratulations to Scott Dixon on the championship. I also want to thank Avaya, HP, Hawk, Carlisle and Devilbiss, PPG, Chevy and Penske Truck Rental for everything. We’ll be working hard in testing this offseason and build on what we started this year for 2016.”
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 25 Andretti Autosport Honda): “We obviously wanted to finish better. If the last yellow would have not gone against us, we would have been top five, top six – which, I think, considering where I was not even Friday, where I wasWednesday, it’s almost impossible to believe. Very proud of the whole team, the effort everybody put in. When you think it was just last weekend that we lost Justin (Wilson) and everyone just pulling together and focusing on the job and hoping to make him proud, make his family proud. I think, at least, we gave it all. I hope he had fun watching us. He left a huge void for everyone that ever met him and I hope it serves to at least inspire us to be a little closer to the way he was and all be better humans.”
CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 26 AndrettiTV Cinsay Honda): “I think this was the worst race of the season. It felt like we were nowhere – we were off strategy and couldn’t gain on track. But this is the last race of the season, so we will take a break and see where we go from here.”
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 Snapple Honda): “A very, very depressing ending to the season. If we hadn’t broken a nose on the (Dale) Coyne (Racing) car – it totally caught me off guard, I thought he was gone – broke the nose and ended up not the highest in points on the team. I’m very bummed about that. I was striving to be the top in points on the team and we let that slide in the end. Big thanks to everyone at Snapple, Honda, Mutual of Omaha and the whole sponsor list for sticking with us and cheering us on.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “It was a good finish to the season, that’s for sure. We won two of the last four races – we finished second today, so it’s been a really good streak. Today we jumped a few spots in the championship… we finished sixth which is crazy coming from 11th in the championship this morning. It’s been a great run and it’s great that it ended on a high note like this headed into a busy off season.”
JACK HAWKSWORTH (No. 41 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda): “We struggled for pace in the beginning because the car wasn’t good on the right handers, but as the race went on, we made some strategies work and we had some good restarts where I could pass a lot of cars on track. That got us back into the hunt, we saved some fuel, pitted before the last caution and that got us into the top 10. Then I had a bit of a stupid move. We were really bad on old tires so I was trying to make as much ground as I could at the beginning so once the end came, and we were slipping and sliding I wouldn’t go backwards as much. But I just got a little optimistic and touched Munoz and broke my front wing. Congratulations to Scott on his championship and Ganassi Racing-impressive finish.”
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Hartman Oil CFH Racing Chevrolet): “It was a good day in a lot of ways. We definitely had a podium car. You never know, we may have even had a winning car. We had to fight through a little bit of an issue with our first stop after clipping Pagenaud. I really sealed our fate when I stalled the car and we just weren’t able to get it re-fired. It put us pretty far back and pretty much ended our day. It was hard to throw away a podium car, maybe even a winning car. I am proud of our effort all year. I feel really bad for putting us in a bad position at the end there.”
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Chevrolet): “It was a heck of a race. Way to go for the Team Target guys. It’s so nice to see Dixon win the championship. He works so hard. Such a class act. I know he was there for the Wilson family Sunday night and Monday. So to be able to come out, get a win, and be part of the Chip Ganassi Racing team — be on the podium and fill out the cars needed so he can win the championship. You know, Chip loves winners and to be able to put the NovoLog FlexPen up on the podium. It’s a pretty good day at the office.”
GABBY CHAVES (No. 98 Bowers & Wilkins / Curb Honda): “It was a very eventful race for us. We barely made it to the start. Actually we didn’t even make the starting grid, so we started about half a lap back. We had a battery problem so that was unfortunate. We think we had the right strategy and had the right pace, but once we started being it was just like we didn’t really know where to go and it was hard to get rhythm behind other cars that we were much faster than. Twice we got caught out by a yellow flag, right as we were pitting and had to bail out from pitting. We obviously lost position trying to do that and screwed up our strategy. It was just a rough day all around, but I think our pace is good and we have to work on a few things. I am happy with the way our Bryan Herta Autosport team worked out this year and we couldn’t do it without our sponsors, Bowers & Wilkins, Castrol Edge, Deltro Electric, Alarm.com, and of course having Honda in our car. It was a fun season and I look forward to what 2016 has to bring.”