Dixon wins at Sonoma, Power widens points lead
Will Power finished 10th, and Helio Castroneves placed 18th, allowing Power to slightly increase his lead in the IndyCar championship standings to 51 points over Castroneves, his teammate at Team Penske, with only one race to go -- next Saturday night's 500-mile event at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.
Dixon, the 2013 IndyCar champion, scored his 35th career victory, which placed him in a tie with Bobby Unser for fifth on the series' all-time race winners list. It was also Dixon's second win at Sonoma. He won here in 2007.
"This is just big for our team," Dixon said. "It was tough because there were so many strategies going on and they were just slightly off. I didn't know who could make it and who couldn't. Conway, I think, pushed hard to start with, but I think he had to save some fuel at the end."
Dixon, who started third, led only the final three laps.
Power started on the pole for this 85-lap race and dominated in the early going, but during a caution, Dixon beat Power out of the pits. Shortly after the restart on lap 40, Power spun around as he exited turn 7 and lost track position. He had dropped as far back as 20th.
But Power managed to work his way through the field. On the final lap, he was in a fierce battle with Justin Wilson and Sebastien Bourdais for position.
"It took me by surprise when I spun," Power said. "That's just racing. I tried to save fuel towards the end, just going for points. I would have liked to have had a better finish."
Power had led 33 of the first 36 laps before his spin.
Castroneves was involved in a multi-car pileup on the opening lap and suffered damage to his front wing, forcing him to pit and dropping him towards the rear of the field. He entered this race 40 points behind Power.
"Getting hit so early on in the race was really tough," Castroneves said. "That certainly put us behind, fixing the damage in the front and back of the car. It was tough to recover. We are now 51 points behind in the championship heading to the finale at Auto Club Speedway, and with the double points there, anything can happen."
Ryan Hunter-Reay crossed the finish line 1.1359 seconds behind Dixon, while Simon Pagenaud placed third. Takuma Sato took the fourth spot, and Juan Pablo Montoya was fifth. Conway ran out of fuel on the last lap and slowly coasted across the line in 14th.
Power, Castroneves and Pagenaud are the only drivers who remain eligible for the championship heading into Fontana, which awards double points. A driver has an opportunity to score a total of 104 points there.
Pagenaud trails Power by 81 points.
This 2.385-mile, 12-turn road course did not sustain any damage from a 6.0- magnitude earthquake that struck Northern California early Sunday morning. The earthquake was centered just outside of the city of Napa.
Officials from Sonoma Raceway said in a statement, released earlier in the day, that "all major systems, including the 12-turn road course, have been inspected by officials, and all emergency responders will be on-site at the facility, as planned. No fans or campers were injured during the quake."