SONOMA, Calif. – Scott Dixon overtook race leader Mike Conway on Lap 83 of 85 and went on to win the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma.
Dixon, who started third in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, led Ryan Hunter-Reay across the finish line by 1.1359 seconds. Simon Pagenaud finished third after overtaking Conway, whose No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Ed Carpenter Racing car ran out of fuel with about 350 yards left.
Pagenaud, who started 15th in the No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports car, joins Team Penske teammates Will Power and Helio Castroneves as drivers eligible for the Verizon IndyCar Series championship.
Power takes a 51-point lead over Castroneves and 81 points over Pagenaud to the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway oval for the season-closing MAVTV 500 on Aug. 30. A total of 104 points are available in the final round of the Triple Crown series.
Power, who started on the pole and led a field-high 33 laps in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car, was scored 10th after rebounding from a spin on Lap 40 that cost him eight positions to 20th.
"It took me by surprise when I spun. 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, but the Verizon Chevy team will look to Fontana working towards the championship."
Castroneves, whose No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske car was involved in contact on Lap 1, never was running in the top 10 and finished 18th. He entered the race 40 points behind Power.
"It's a pretty disappointing finish, to be honest," said Castroneves, who started sixth. "The Hitachi Chevy was really fast all weekend and to get hit so early on in the race was really tough. That certainly put us behind, fixing the damage in the front and back of the car and it was tough to recover. So now, we are 51 points behind in the championship heading to the finale at Auto Club Speedway, and with the double points there anything can happen.
"We are not giving up. We will keep on it and give everything we have next weekend to try and reach our goal. We are still in it and we know what we need to do now over the 500 miles."
It was the 35th career victory for Dixon, who tied Bobby Unser for fifth on the all-time list.
“This is just big for our team,” said Dixon, who is the only driver to complete every lap in the 10 Verizon IndyCar Series races at Sonoma Raceway. “It was tough because there were so many strategies going on and they were just slightly off and 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.”
Twenty cars were on the lead lap, tying a season high set in the Indianapolis 500. Takuma Sato, who started 20th in the No. 14 ABC Supply A.J. Foyt Racing car, finished a season-high fourth and Juan Pablo Montoya was fifth in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske entry. Conway finished 14th.
“We had another unlucky morning. After the warm-up we had to change the engine,” Sato said. “The guys did a tremendous job to change it in such a short time and give me a competitive car. Unfortunately, we caught debris in the first accident and we had to change the nose and tires. We stayed on the lead lap and kept topping off fuel to make a slightly different sequence of pit stops from everyone else.
“I overtook a few cars on the track, our strategy worked and the Honda engine did a great job in the end. Everyone is very happy."