Dixon emerging as new title rival for Castroneves (VIDEO)

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With the Honda Indy Toronto in the books, Helio Castroneves continues to lead the IZOD IndyCar Series championship. But his rear view mirrors are starting to fill up with the “Target red” of Scott Dixon.

And that’s the main focus for “The Iceman,” who now sits just 29 points behind Castroneves after completing a weekend sweep at Exhibition Place this afternoon. When NBC Sports Network’s Kevin Lee mentioned the $100,000 bonus he’d won for taking both races in the doubleheader, Dixon instead talked about the bigger picture.

“One hundred grand is good, but I’d rather take the points,” said Dixon after his third consecutive triumph in an eight-day span. “The points are what we’re here for…We’ll narrow it down and try to go for [the championship].”

Dixon has the momentum, and it bears noting that the next IndyCar race is at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (Aug. 4, 3 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network), where he is the two-time defending race champion and a four-time winner in his career.

And that could mean trouble for Castroneves, who had a relatively strong weekend in Toronto with a sixth-place finish on Saturday and a runner-up finish today. Even so, he couldn’t help but marvel at Dixon’s brilliance.

“[Dixon] was in another league,” Castroneves said to NBCSN. “I was pushing as hard as I could and I had a very good car, don’t get me wrong. But…Whatever he’s having for breakfast, I want it. Man, that was something.”

Castroneves had one final chance to get past Dixon on the last restart of the day with two laps to go but was unable to pull it off.

“I only had one “push to pass” [overtake] and I was trying to be smart with using the push-to-pass to keep up with Scott,” he said. “I was going for it, but in the end, it was really hard and Scott was smart. He’s not a rookie. We gotta work but we’re very happy with a good second-place.”

Meanwhile, the Toronto troubles continued for Ryan Hunter-Reay, who fell to third in the championship after contact with Will Power on that particular restart sent him into the wall near Turn 1. As a result of his 19th place finish, RHR is now 69 points behind Castroneves in the title race.

Three events ago, he had been just nine points behind him.

“Will was coming out from the bottom and I had a good run around the outside and I was right next to him,” Hunter-Reay told NBCSN. “He was sliding across and when I talked to him in the [medical car] that took us back, he said he got loose on the bottom and he just drove right up into us.

“There’s two lanes going through there and everybody kind of respects that. I don’t think he drove into me on purpose, but it took us out of the race.”

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”