After Justin Wilson won in Detroitit became clear that the main points battle between Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves would come down to the final points-paying race in Chicago. Dixon had been dominating all season but had a few hiccups on the tail end which enabled Helio to catch up due to his consistent top 3 finishes. As it played out, before Chicago only 30 points separated the two drivers.
Scott needed only to finish 8th place or better to mathematically lock out Helio’s chances for the title. Things didn’t start off well for Helio as his fastest qualifying lap which would have put him on pole was waived off by officials due to the Brazilian driver constantly dropping his wheels below the white safety line during his lap. This meant Helio would start from the very back of the pack and have to fight his way to the top while hoping that Dixon had trouble.
It seemed to be Helio’s lucky day as that’s exactly what happened. He had a hard fought battle all the way to the front while Dixon’s problems with traffic held him in 10th place towards the last leg of the race. However a brilliant pit stop by the Target Chip Ganassiteam put Scott up front where he battled it out with Helio for the remainder of the race down to the second closest finish in IRL history.
It appeared as if Dixon just edged out Castroneves at the last moment. So much so that Dixon’s car was wheeled into the winner’s circle and the celebration began but he was then informed that after reviewing the tap Helio Castroneves beat him to the line by a scant .0033 of a second.
Although despite the troubling news Dixon couldn’t be too upset as he still officially locked in the 2008 Indy Car Series title earning himself a million dollar bonus and redeeming his heart breaking loss of the title last year due to running out of fuel.
Even though the points battle is over there is still one more race left in the season. The Indy Cars will head to Surfer’s Paradise Australia for an exhibition race. This will also mark the return of Dario Franchitti to Indy Car where he’ll be joining the Chip Ganassi team and officially becoming Scott Dixon’s teammate. I’m sure it will be ironic for the drivers since Franchitti took the title from Dixon last year.
All in all this was a great semi-end to a great season. We can’t wait to see what happens in 2009
Check out the post race report by SPEED