Scott Dixon grabbed the lead from teammate Dario Franchitti on pit road just before the midpoint and earned his 19th career IndyCar Series victory on Saturday night at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway, tying Sam Hornish Jr.’s series record.
Dixon and Franchitti, teammates with Target Chip Ganassi Racing, started on the front row and stayed there all night, benefiting from a one-groove racetrack that made passing difficult, and from their patience as most everyone else made green-flag pit stops.
Twice they held out just long enough – watching most of the field head down pit road as the field zipped by under a green flag – and got the yellow flags that made it pay off.
Andretti-Green Racing teammates Hideki Mutoh and Danica Patrick would likely have been poised to battle for the victory after out-of-sequence stops much later in the race, but needed green-flag racing over the last 80 laps.
It didn’t happen.
Helio Castroneves scraped the wall on lap 247 of 300, bringing out the last caution that rescued the leaders. Graham Rahal finished a season-best third, followed by teammates Mutoh and Patrick.
The race was especially costly for Team Penske, which arrived with Ryan Briscoe leading the points and Castroneves fourth, and saw both taken out of the running by crashes.
Briscoe spun out on just the 27th circuit, and he wound up 19th out of 20 cars, while Castroneves was running in the top seven when he crashed late. He wound up 17th.
Franchitti, who won this race and the series championship two years ago before a brief dalliance with NASCAR, moved past Briscoe and into the points lead, one ahead of Dixon.
Kyle Busch finally figured out a way to win again in the series.
After two straight frustrating runner-up finishes in the second-tier series, Busch passed Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Joey Logano near the end of the Camping World 200 and held off the precocious 19-year-old to get the victory at New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon.
Logano, who started from the pole and led 108 of the 200 laps, beat Busch out of the pits by the length of a hood on the final pit stop by the two leaders. But, this time, Busch stayed with the leader and eventually drive past him with 36 laps left.
Former series champion Carl Edwards challenged Logano in the early going, leading 51 laps. But his crew had problems changing the right front tire on a pit stop just past halfway and he fell out of contention, finishing sixth. That left Edwards 162 points behind Busch in the championship after 16 of 25 races.
Brad Keselowski finished third, followed by Mike Bliss and Kevin Harvick.
Ron Hornaday dominated his second consecutive race and won the NASCAR Camping World race at the Memphis (Tenn.) Motorsports Park.
Hornaday, who won last week at Milwaukee by leading 180 of 200 laps, had a similar performance in the MemphisTravel.com 200.
He started on the pole after a qualifying lap of 117.7 mph and led 176 of 200 laps on the 3/4 -mile oval.
Brian Scott, who was racing for the second week with a broken right wrist, finished second, 0.65 seconds behind Hornaday. David Starr finished third and Aric Almirola was fourth.