Texas: De Ferran wins, Dixon takes title

Scott Dixon won the 2003 IRL IndyCar Series after finishing second to Gil de Ferran in the final round - the Chevy 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway - but the race ended in a subdued atmosphere following a serious accident involving Kenny Brack and Tomas Scheckter on lap 188

Texas: De Ferran wins, Dixon takes title

Brack was trying to pass Scheckter for third place when he made contact with the Target Ganassi car. Brack's car became airborne and broke apart against the safety fencing. Scheckter was unharmed but Brack was airlifted to Parkland Hospital in Dallas where he was reported to be in serious but stable condition.

With a large hole in the fence and a crowd of rescue workers trying to free Brack, the race was shortened by five laps. De Ferran, who said his dream was to win his final race, accomplished that, and Dixon, determined to add the IRL championship to his growing list of racing conquests, also reached his goal.

"It's been a strange year," Dixon said. "We've had lots of ups and downs. I think we could have tied it up pretty easily if he hadn't had small little problems. Championships are meant to be very difficult to win, and I'm glad it went our way."

De Ferran finished second in the final standings, 18 points behind Dixon. Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan, eliminated from contention when their wheels touched late in the race, finished third and fourth in the points, respectively. Sam Hornish Jr. faded to a 17th-place finish with mechanical trouble and finished fifth in points.

Dan Wheldon finished third in the race and claimed the IRL's rookie of the year prize. Vitor Meira, Bryan Herta and Scott Sharp rounded out the top six. But the spoils belonged to Dixon, the 23-year-old newcomer, and de Ferran, the 35-year-old veteran in his final race.

"I feel very grateful and fortunate to be able to do what I do and experience the emotions that I have been able to experience over the years," de Ferran said. "It really has been a wonderful journey, I have to say. For it to finish this way - winning the pole position and a victory and nearly a championship - is something that I will carry with me for many years to come."

Brack was airlifted to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, where he was listed in serious but stable condition and was reported to have suffered multiple fractures. He reportedly spoke with his wife, Anita, and Team Rahal officials before being transported to the air ambulance.

For de Ferran, the emotional send-off was completed by wise strategy. Forced to pit twice after his car was slightly damaged when Felipe Giaffone crashed midway through the race, de Ferran was able to save fuel while running in the pack, then stay out and assume the lead when the front-runners pitted.

"I was going down the grass at 200mph thinking, 'Okay, this is not much fun,'" de Ferran said. "I had some concern that I was going to end up in pit lane. Thankfully, none of that happened. ... From there, I really concentrated on saving fuel. I knew if I did that, my last stop was going to be very short. As the lead guys started to come into the pits for fuel, I turned the heat back on.

"From an emotional standpoint, it's hard," de Ferran said. "I'm being pulled every different direction. Here it is my last race, I won, but there's a big crash. I apologise for being a bit sombre."

Brack, who won the CART season finale in 2002 for Ganassi, was on the mind of members of Sunday's championship team, too.

"It was a bit of a problem for me," said Mike Hull, Ganassi's managing director. "It's great to hear he's okay. A great deal of the reason why we won this championship is Tomas Scheckter. To see what happened to those two guys today, emotionally, it means a lot to us. It's a very personal thing."

Other drivers had to deal with the emotions of missing a championship by a small measurement. Kanaan, most notably, appeared to have the car to win the race until his left rear and Castroneves' right front rubbed together on the 180th lap.

"Things like that can happen," Kanaan said. "It wasn't mechanical; it wasn't my fault. Things like that can happen, and, unfortunately, it happened to us today."

Wheldon, Kanaan's teammate with Andretti Green Racing, scored the rookie of the year award by outrunning Roger Yasukawa. It was Wheldon's sixth consecutive top-10 finish and his third straight top-five. "The last four or five races, this car has handled very well on superspeedways," Wheldon said. "Fortunately, we were able to run up front all day."

shares
comments
Wheldon changes his colours

Previous article

Wheldon changes his colours

Next article

Brack serious but stable after shunt

Brack serious but stable after shunt
Load comments
The lasting legacy of a fallen Indycar rookie Plus

The lasting legacy of a fallen Indycar rookie

Jeff Krosnoff was plucked out of obscurity to become a respected and highly popular professional in Japan, and then got his big break in Indycar for 1996. But a tragic accident at Toronto 25 years ago cut short a promising career and curtailed his regular team-mate Mauro Martini's passion for racing

IndyCar
Jul 14, 2021
The two key areas where Dixon needs to re-assert his authority Plus

The two key areas where Dixon needs to re-assert his authority

OPINION: Having been Chip Ganassi Racing's IndyCar focal point for the best part of a decade, Scott Dixon has been so far outgunned by new team-mate Alex Palou in 2021. After finishing behind the Spaniard at his traditional happy hunting ground at Mid-Ohio, Dixon has work to do to assume his traditional position in the team and the standings

IndyCar
Jul 6, 2021
The winners and losers of IndyCar 2021 so far Plus

The winners and losers of IndyCar 2021 so far

At the halfway point in the 2021 IndyCar Series season, we've had seven winners in eight races, spread between five teams – none of them Team Penske. In this unusual season, even by IndyCar standards, who’s excelling and who’s dragging their heels?

IndyCar
Jun 18, 2021
Castroneves: How I kept it under control to make Indy 500 history Plus

Castroneves: How I kept it under control to make Indy 500 history

Helio Castroneves’ overwhelming vivaciousness outside the cockpit belies a hardcore racer who knows how to plot his moves – and then recall it all. A day after his fourth Indy 500 win, he explained his tactics

IndyCar
Jun 2, 2021
How 'chess master' Castroneves cemented his Indy legend status Plus

How 'chess master' Castroneves cemented his Indy legend status

Helio Castroneves joined AJ Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears with the most Indianapolis 500 wins after edging past Alex Palou on the penultimate lap of a thrilling race that validated Michael Shank's faith in the veteran Brazilian - who is discovering that there is life after Penske after all

IndyCar
Jun 1, 2021
Indy 500 preview: Will experience or youth be victorious at the Brickyard? Plus

Indy 500 preview: Will experience or youth be victorious at the Brickyard?

A quarter of the drivers racing in the 105th edition of the Indianapolis 500 are former winners - but are they the favourites? The veteran drivers largely impressed in qualifying - but there's also a plethora of young guns looking to secure victory at IndyCar's flagship race...

IndyCar
May 27, 2021
What will it take to get American drivers in Formula 1? Plus

What will it take to get American drivers in Formula 1?

The FIA says it wants American drivers in Formula 1, but would it take an IndyCar driver to transfer or does an American need to join the European junior ladder system to get there?

Formula 1
May 19, 2021
Why IndyCar is satisfying Grosjean’s appetite for his second life Plus

Why IndyCar is satisfying Grosjean’s appetite for his second life

After spending the majority of his 179-race Formula 1 career in middling to tail-end machinery, Romain Grosjean finds himself once again with an underdog team in IndyCar. While not without its challenges, he's relishing the more level playing field that means his Dale Coyne Racing crew can expect to claim a few scalps...

IndyCar
May 14, 2021