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

Qualifying: Junqueira takes Nazareth pole
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