Dixon wins Houston Race 1, closes to within 8 points of Castroneves

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Scott Dixon has taken a decisive victory, the 33rd of his career, in the 17th round of the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series season, in Race 1 of the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston doubleheader weekend.

With shifting issues affecting Helio Castroneves, and the Team Penske driver finishing where he started in 18th, Dixon closes to within 8 points of him in the championship chase, unofficially.

The race ended under yellow – the fourth time this season this has happened – after Mike Conway’s car stalled following contact at Turn 9. He wasn’t quite in a position to restart and the fifth yellow of the race was called to halt any remaining passes.

In second was Simona de Silvestro, scoring her first career IndyCar podium in second place for KV Racing Technology. Justin Wilson captured his fourth podium of the season for Dale Coyne Racing in third.

Baltimore’s first and second place finishers, Simon Pagenaud and Josef Newgarden, have finished fourth and fifth on this occasion.

The rest of the top 10 included Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing teammates James Jakes and Graham Rahal, the latter of whom made an excellent charge from 24th and last on the grid, Sebastien Bourdais, E.J. Viso and Luca Filippi.

Filippi’s result is the first top-10 of his career and featured some excellent passing maneuvers.

Unofficial points are Castroneves 513, Dixon 508, Pagenaud 463, Marco Andretti 447 and Ryan Hunter-Reay 437. Wilson, Dario Franchitti, Will Power, James Hinchcliffe and Charlie Kimball round out the top 10.

Race 2 begins with coverage at 1 p.m. ET on NBCSN and a projected green flag roughly a half hour later.

More to follow.

Hamilton: McLaren could help create four-team F1 title fight in 2018

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Lewis Hamilton says the Mercedes Formula 1 team cannot afford to let up in its push to improve ahead of a fiercer fight at the front of the field in 2018 – potentially including former team McLaren.

Hamilton clinched his fourth F1 drivers’ title in Mexico at the end of October as Mercedes continued its perfect record of championships since the introduction of the new V6 turbo hybrid engines in 2014.

The team faced a stiffer challenge in 2017 thanks to a resurgent Ferrari, while Red Bull also posed a threat towards the end of the season, setting the stage for another close fight next year.

Hamilton is expecting both Ferrari and Red Bull to remain a force at the front of the pack, but also feels McLaren could join the fight after ditching Honda in favor of a Renault engine supply for 2018.

“When I’m training and preparing for a new season, I firmly believe that we can be contenders for the next championship. It may turn out to be not possible, but you have to have that mindset,” Hamilton said.

“If you go in with expectations of finishing fifth, it’s not going to work. You’ve got to gear yourself up to win.

“Next year, McLaren will have Renault engines, then we may see four teams fighting for the championship. I think Red Bull will be quicker and Ferrari for sure will be fast again.

“We can’t stand still – we have to keep moving forwards.”

Hamilton started his F1 career with McLaren back in 2007, winning his maiden world title in 2008 before leaving the team for Mercedes at the end of the 2012 season.