Dixon completes Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader sweep

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Scott Dixon has his third straight win of the IZOD IndyCar Series season, and completed a sweep of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on the Exhibition Place street circuit. For the sweep, he also takes home a $100,000 bonus from SONAX, which created the “Perfect Finish Award” for a driver who could win both races of a doubleheader weekend.

The win is Dixon’s 32nd of his illustrious career, moving him ahead of a three-way tie between his Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Dario Franchitti, Paul Tracy and Sebastien Bourdais for seventh all-time in American open-wheel racing.

“Once again, I want to thank everyone for coming out today,” Dixon said in victory lane. “Toronto fans are something special. A little hotter today. The race was a little faster pace today, so we were definitely trying to hang on there. I think it’s been since, ’03 or ’08, I don’t know, since we’ve had that kind of run. I’m just so happy for the team. Second place in the points now. What a turnaround in a couple of weeks. It’s a big difference.”

Dixon’s hot streak has propelled him into second in points, just 29 behind Helio Castroneves. Castroneves finished second for Team Penske while Bourdais took home his second podium of the weekend for Dragon Racing in third place.

“The car was better today. They were in a different league, Scott and Ganassi guys. I was pushing. Whatever he is taking for breakfast, I want it. Scott, tell me what you’re having for breakfast. Let’s be realistic: The guy was leading the whole race, 13 seconds ahead,” said Castroneves.

Dario Franchitti and E.J. Viso rounded out the top five. Charlie Kimball, Mike Conway, Justin Wilson, Marco Andretti and Alex Tagliani completed the top 10. That’s Tagliani’s first top-10 finish since the St. Petersburg season opener in March.

The race ended under caution after Ryan Hunter-Reay and Will Power made contact on the exit of Turn 1, with Power and RHR’s collision putting the American into the tire barriers. Takuma Sato, who seems to have a magnetic attraction to Hunter-Reay of late, had nowhere to go and went into the back of him.

After a successful first standing start, it had been a caution-free first 64 laps before James Jakes’ accident at Turn 5, and a later accident in the same corner by Ed Carpenter with five laps to go set up the final restart. Unfortunately, the Sunday race ended under yellow for the second year running with that final contretemps.

Michael Andretti looking forward to new Australian Supercars venture

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If it seems like Michael Andretti is out to conquer the world, he is – kind of.

The former IndyCar star turned prolific team owner has won three of the last four Indianapolis 500s and five overall, second only to Roger Penske’s 16 Indy 500 triumphs.

Along the way, in addition to expanding his own IndyCar and Indy Lights operation, the son of Mario Andretti and the primary shareholder of Andretti Autosport has also branched out into Global RallyCross and Formula E racing in recent years.

And now, Andretti has further expanded his brand internationally, following Penske to the world down under — as in the world of Australian V8 Supercars.

Andretti has teamed with Supercars team owner Ryan Walkinshaw, along with veteran motorsports marketer and executive director of McLaren Technology Group and United Autosports owner and chairman, Zak Brown.

Together, the three have formed Walkinshaw Andretti United, based in suburban Melbourne, Australia. The new team kicks off the new season with the Adelaide 500 from March 1-4.

“It’s just extending our brand and putting it out there,” Andretti told NBC Sports. “The Supercars are such a great series.

“It all started with Zach Brown calling me and said ‘You have to talk to Ryan Walkinshaw. He’s got something interesting to talk to you about.’

“We talked and literally in like a half-hour, we said, ‘Let’s figure out how we’re going to make this work.’ And then Zack was like, ‘Hey, what about me?’ And then Zack came in as a partner and it’s cool now that we have the Walkinshaw Andretti United team.

“I’m really excited about that program, the guys at the shop are excited about it, we’ve been doing a lot of things to try and help it because it’s such a cool series and the cars are so cool.

“I went down there to Bathurst, which was to me one of the coolest tracks in the world. I wish I could have driven it, I really do. It looks like a blast.

“It’s amazing how big that series is when you go down there. It’s one of the biggest sports in Australia. It was just a great opportunity for us to extend our portfolio.”

Admittedly, Andretti had some extra incentive to want to get involved in the Supercars world: Penske joined forces with legendary Dick Johnson Racing in September 2014.

The organization came together quickly and the rebranded DJR Team Penske went on to win the 2017 V8 Supercars championship.

“Roger was down there the last few years,” Andretti said, adding that fact as incentive to get his own organization into the series. “So it’s cool to go race head-to-head with Roger. That was also in the back of our minds.”

This is no start-up venture for Andretti. The roots of the new venture began in 1990 as the Holden Racing Team, which went on to become one of the most successful organizations in Australian V8 Supercar racing, having won the drivers’ championship six times and the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship’s top race, the Bathurst 1000 (essentially Australia’s version of the Indy 500), seven times.

Last season, Holden Racing team morphed into Triple Eight Race Engineering and was renamed Mobil 1 HSV Racing.

And now the company has been renamed once again for the 2018 campaign under the Walkinshaw Andretti United banner.

The team will be composed of two Holden ZB Commodores with drivers James Courtney and Scott Pye, as well as a Porsche 911 GT3-R in the Australian GT championship.

What’s next for Andretti’s motorsports portfolio? Right now, it’s pretty full, but you can bet running for championships from Australia (Supercars) to globally (GRC) to Indianapolis (Indy 500) to the U.S. (Verizon IndyCar Series) are at the top of this year’s list.