Race Dixon takes shock win at Nazareth

Rookie Scott Dixon scored a shock victory in the Lehigh Valley Grand Prix at Nazareth Speedway, Round 3 of the Champ Car championship. The 20-year-old Dixon used perfect pit strategy from his PacWest team to become the youngest-ever winner of a Champ Car race. He held off Kenny Brack by less than a second, with Paul Tracy coming home third, 1.3 seconds back

Race Dixon takes shock win at Nazareth

Dixon's Reynard-Toyota suffered fuel feed problems on Friday, and understeer prevented the Kiwi from qualifying better than 23rd in the 25-car field. But the PacWest team, led by Russ Cameron, brought him into the pits on Lap 7 during a full-course caution. Dixon's second and final pit stop, made on Lap 116 of 225, provided him with enough fuel to last the distance.

The youngest man to previously win a Champ Car race was 21-year old Greg Moore at Milwaukee in 1997.

Brack ran a more orthodox pit stop strategy, stopping under yellow on Laps 76 and 125. The last stop dropped the Swede to 10th place, and he electrified the small crowd of around 25,000 with a series of passes to move all the way to second. But a late yellow for Michel Jourdain Jr's second spin of the day blunted Brack's charge.

"Our car was very good exiting the corners," commented Dixon. "There was a lot of radio communication with the team to see if I could go the distance on fuel quite happily. I saved fuel early in the run and was able to run full rich at the end. I think Kenny and Paul had to conserve a little, and I was able to build a cushion."

Dxon's win ended a prolonged slump for the PacWest team, which last tasted victory with Mark Blundell in the 1997 season finale.

"It's hard to know what to expect out of this," Dixon said. "There has been a lot of down times with the team, even this weekend with Mauricio (Gugelmin) not being here. I was definitely feeling a little down starting back in 23rd. This hasn't really hit me yet, but hopefully in a few days it will."

Brack came just short in his quest for his first CART win. The Swede was one of the fastest men all weekend in his Team Rahal Lola-Ford, but Dixon's radical strategy was enough to ensure the win.

"Scot's car was better off of Turns 2 and 3, but mine was quicker all around," remarked Brack. "But you can't drive through people. I couldn't get a run on him through the corners because the straights are so short. At the end, Scott had no one in front of him, so he had a clear run.

"I'm still a little surprised where we ended up, but Scott drove a good race," Brack added. "Second is better than third. Of course I would like to win at least one race, but I guess it will have to wait."

Tracy's strategy was a mix of Dixon's and Brack's. He pitted with the leaders on Lap 76, then came back in under yellow with Dixon on Lap 116. The Canadian then gained another couple of positions on a restart to run third to the end.

"I had a couple of close calls," Tracy remarked. "Helio (Castroneves) and (Michel) Jourdain spun right in front of me. I was kind of upset that we pitted the second time when we did, because I thought we were going to have to stop again under the green near the end. So I got a little angry on the restart and got by a couple of guys. I guess it caused Jimmy (Vasser) a little problem, but that's life.

"The way Scott was running, I thought he was going to have to pit again," Tracy added. "But then we got the yellow at the end and that was it. We made up some ground today and we're tied for the championship lead, so I'm pretty happy with the day."

Vasser recovered from his bump with Tracy to take fourth, ahead of Christian Fittipaldi and local hero Michael Andretti.

Pole man Bruno Junqueira gave the lead to Brack at the start, and the Brazilian dropped to a seventh place finish in his first oval start.

"I'm a little disappointed because we had a very good car," Junqueira stated. "I lost radio contact with my pits during the race and I was not able to hear anything they were telling me. That was a big factor, and I also made a lot of mistakes today. But I will learn from those mistakes and continue to become a better and better oval racer."

Gil de Ferran and Alex Tagliani were involved in the day's only crash, which occurred in Turn 3 on the 121st lap. Neither driver was injured, and de Ferran joined his teammate Helio Castroneves (who finished 11th) on a flight to Indianapolis to shake down their IRL cars.

Tracy and Cristiano da Matta (10th at Nazareth) now lead the championship on 40 points, ahead of Vasser and de Ferran with 30. Castroneves and Brack each have 29 points as the CART series heads to Japan to race at Twin Ring Motegi on May 19.


1 Scott Dixon Reynard-Toyota, 225
2 Kenny Brack Lola-Ford, 225
3 Paul Tracy Reynard-Honda, 225
4 Jimmy Vasser, Reynard-Toyota, 225
5 Christian Fittipaldi, Lola-Toyota, 225
6 Michael Andretti, Reynard-Honda, 225
7 Bruno Junqueira, Lola-Toyota, 225
8 Dario Franchitti, Reynard-Honda, 225
9 Oriol Servia, Lola-Ford, 225
10 Cristiano da Matta, Lola-Toyota, 225
11 Helio Castroneves, Reynard-Honda, 225
12 Roberto Moreno, Reynard-Toyota, 225
13 Michel Jourdain Jr, Lola-Ford, 224
14 Tora Takagi, Reynard-Toyota, 224
15 Shinji Nakano, Reynard-Honda, 224
16 Tony Kanaan, Reynard-Honda, 224
17 Max Wilson, Lola-Phoenix, 222
18 Nicolas Minassian, Lola-Toyota, 220
19 Adrian Fernandez, Reynard-Honda, 186
20 Alex Zanardi, Reynard-Honda, 167
21 Bryan Herta, Reynard-Ford, 132
22 Alex Tagliani, Reynard-Ford, 120
23 Gil de Ferran, Reynard-Honda, 120
24 Max Papis, Lola-Ford, 76
25 Patrick Carpentier, Reynard-Ford, 28

shares
comments
Qualifying: Junqueira takes Nazareth pole

Previous article

Qualifying: Junqueira takes Nazareth pole

Next article

CART boss says Nazareth could gain reprieve

CART boss says Nazareth could gain reprieve
Load comments
The one-time Schumacher rival rebooting his career Down Under Plus

The one-time Schumacher rival rebooting his career Down Under

Joey Mawson made waves in the middle of the last decade, beating future Haas Formula 1 driver Mick Schumacher - among other highly-rated talents - to the 2016 German F4 title. A run in F1's feeder GP3 category only caused his career to stall, but now back in Australia Mawson's S5000 title success has set that to rights

General
May 8, 2021
The lesson football’s would-be wreckers could learn from racing Plus

The lesson football’s would-be wreckers could learn from racing

OPINION: The greed-driven push for a European Super League that threatened to tear football apart is collapsing at the seams. Motor racing's equivalent, the football-themed Superleague Formula series of 2008-11, was everything that the proposed ESL never could be

General
Apr 21, 2021
The F1 and Indy 'nearly man' that found contentment in Japan Plus

The F1 and Indy 'nearly man' that found contentment in Japan

Having had the door to F1 slammed in his face and come within three laps of winning the Indianapolis 500, the collapse of a Peugeot LMP1 shot meant Japan was Bertrand Baguette's last chance of a career. But it's one which he has grasped with both hands

General
Feb 27, 2021
The female all-rounder who arrived "too early" Plus

The female all-rounder who arrived "too early"

From Formula 3 to truck racing, Dakar and EuroNASCAR via a winning stint in the DTM, there's not much Ellen Lohr hasn't seen in a stellar racing career that highlights the merit in being a generalist. But she believes her career came too early...

General
Feb 17, 2021
How Radical's latest machines fare on track Plus

How Radical's latest machines fare on track

The lightweight sportscar manufacturer has not rewritten the rulebook with its latest machines, but the new SR3 XX and SR10 still provide a step forward on its previous successful models

General
Feb 8, 2021
The real-life racing rogues stranger than fiction Plus

The real-life racing rogues stranger than fiction

The forthcoming Netflix film linking the world of underworld crime and motorsport plays on a theme that isn't exactly new. Over the years, several shady figures have attempted to make it in racing before their dubious dealings caught up with them

General
Jan 31, 2021
How a GP is thriving in a COVID-free territory Plus

How a GP is thriving in a COVID-free territory

The New Zealand Grand Prix's mix of rising talent and big-name stars thrilled the crowds (yes, remember crowds?) assembled for the Toyota Racing Series meeting at Hampton Downs last weekend and left distant observers craving a repeat

General
Jan 26, 2021
How a much-changed Macau GP kept the party going Plus

How a much-changed Macau GP kept the party going

OPINION: The 67th edition of the Macau Grand Prix might have been a largely muted affair to the outside world without its international influx and star line-ups, another victim to the COVID-19 pandemic, but organisers deserve huge credit for keeping the party going

General
Nov 24, 2020