LONG POND, Pa. — Scott Dixon tentatively eyed his massive, nontraditional trophy, a hunk of dark rock accompanied by a bald eagle carrying an American flag.
Dixon, standing atop the podium moments after winning the IndyCar Series Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway on Sunday afternoon, struggled to grip his heavy award. At Dixon’s sides, his Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Charlie Kimball and Dario Franchitti lent a hand to the New Zealander in raising the trophy in winner’s circle.
The victory was Dixon’s first in the IndyCar Series since last August, and as he pointed out, a milestone day for Honda cars and Ganassi Racing as its drivers finished 1-2-3 for the first time.
“It was good to get one out of the way this year and get on the top spot of the podium,” Dixon said. “But I think more importantly, just super-excited for the team. Everybody’s been working really hard and to have a glimpse of something great and things to be positive about, hopefully we can keep this momentum rolling.”
Pole-winner Marco Andretti led 88 of Sunday’s 160 laps – the most of any driver – but struggled with fuel mileage in his Chevrolet late in the race and finished 10th. The Nazareth, Pa., resident’s grandfather, Mario, won at Pocono in 1986, and his father, Michael, won the pole the same year.
Six of the top 10 finishers drove Hondas, with Chevrolet’s poor fuel mileage playing a major role.
FORMULA ONE: In Nuerburgring, Germany, pushed hard by a driver who might become his teammate, Sebastian Vettel finally won at home in Germany in a race that featured some scary moments Sunday.
The three-time defending Formula One champion surged ahead in his Red Bull car by the first curve and then had to resist
the challenge of two fast Lotus cars.
He took the checkered flag a second ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, who is being mentioned as Vettel’s future colleague.
“It was a tough race. It was one of the toughest for a long time,” Vettel said after his fourth victory of the season. “I am happy the race was 60 laps and not 61 or 62, the Lotus were incredibly fast and ... Kimi was putting a lot of pressure on me at the end.”
Vettel had been without a win in Europe for 22 months and – more obscurely – had never won a race in July.
Vettel’s 30th career victory extended his championship lead to 34 points over Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso, who finished fourth. Raikkonen moved up to third, 41 points behind Vettel.
Third place went to Romain Grosjean, Raikkonen’s Lotus teammate.
NHRA: In Norwalk, Ohio, Johnny Gray won his fourth Funny Car title of the year on Sunday at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals.
Gray and Ron Capps drove their Dodge Chargers to identical times of 4.103 seconds in the championship round.
But Gray posted the quicker reaction time to get the victory. Gray’s Charger went 314.02 mph in the final round, compared to 314.09 for Capps in his 400th career start.
Khalid alBalooshi (Top Fuel), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also won.
It was the seventh career victory for Gray, who has won each of his four finals this year.
He beat Alexis DeJoria, Chad Head and defending Funny Car world champion Jack Beckman to reach the final round.