Dixon Sonoma IndyCar winner
Scott Dixon surged ahead with three laps left for a victory at Sonoma Raceway in California on Sunday, while IndyCar points leader Will Power recovered from a mid-race spin to finish 10th heading to the season finale.
Power leads teammate Helio Castroneves by 51 points heading to the double-points finale at Fontana on Saturday. Castroneves struggled to an 18th-place finish at Sonoma.
Simon Pagenaud is 81 points back in third after a third-place finish on a wild day in wine country. The raceway was unaffected by an earthquake centered just northeast of the track about 10 hours before the race began.
Dixon is out of the race to defend his 2013 title, but he grabbed his 35th win after leader Graham Rahal was forced to pit for gas with four laps left. Dixon slid inside Mike Conway for the lead and held on for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, moving him into a fifth-place tie with Bobby Unser for career wins on the circuit.
Rahal and Conway both tried to push to the finish on low fuel, but neither made it. Ryan Hunter-Reay finished second, and Takuma Sato was fourth.
“There were so many strategies going on, and they were just slightly off,” Dixon said. “I didn’t know who could make it. … So excited. This is big for our team.”
Power crossed the finish line ninth after a ferocious last-lap push past Justin Wilson, culminating in a thrilling three-wide sprint with Sebastien Bourdais. But IndyCar recorded Wilson in ninth and Power in 10th because of a local yellow flag for the slowing car of Conway, who crawled across the line.
Nico Rosberg extended his championship lead and deepened his rift with Lewis Hamilton. The gloves are now well and truly off between the Mercedes rivals in their bitter fight for the Formula One title.
After Rosberg finished second at Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix, Hamilton claimed the German driver acknowledged that he had deliberately crashed into him early in the race, which saw Daniel Ricciardo clinch his third win of the season.
“We just had a meeting about it and he basically said he did it on purpose,” Hamilton said, struggling to contain his anger. “He said he did it on purpose. He said he could have avoided it. He said ‘I did it to prove a point.’ ”
There was no immediate response from Rosberg, who now has 220 points with Hamilton still on 191 and third-place Ricciardo on 156.
The huge tensions inside Mercedes overshadowed Ricciardo’s impressive performance for resurgent Red Bull.
Rosberg effectively ended Hamilton’s chances of victory on the second lap after a risky overtaking move that saw him clip and puncture the Briton’s left tire.
Both of their cars were damaged, but not as much as their relationship.
“I heard someone say that it was inevitable we were going to crash one day, but I don’t feel that today was that inevitability,” Hamilton said. “It’s not your job to go massively out of your way to leave extra, extra room.”
Red Bull took full advantage as Ricciardo raced away to a second consecutive victory. Hamilton retired five laps from the end.
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