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.

Dodge to celebrate 50th anniversary of Hemi motor at NHRA U.S. Nationals

Photo courtesy Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
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When this year’s NHRA U.S. Nationals plays out from August 29 through September 3 at Indianapolis Raceway Park, a lot of folks are going to be channeling one of the most famous lines in motorsports:

“Hey, that thing got a Hemi?”

Dodge and parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles on Thursday – on National Hemi Day, no less – announced that it will celebrate the Hemi’s 50th anniversary of Super Stock cars with the 18th annual Dodge Hemi Challenge during the U.S. Nationals.

Cars that will take part in the Challenge will be 1968 Dodge Dart and Plymouth Barracuda cars – “The most iconic of the Mopar package cars,” touted a Dodge press release – in a head-to-head battle.

The Dart and Barracuda were purpose built for use solely on a drag strip. The 23 entrants in the Challenge will drive their personally owned versions of the ’68 ‘Cuda and Dart.

The winner of the Challenge – which will be held August 30-31 – will take home a $15,000 purse, while cash rewards will be available for all 16 drivers that qualify for final eliminations.

“The Dodge brand is proud to serve as title sponsor of the NHRA Dodge HEMI Challenge, an event that spotlights the legacy and power of the 426 HEMI engine,” said Steve Beahm, Head of Passenger Cars, Dodge//SRT, Chrysler and FIAT, FCA North America.

Beahm added, “This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Dodge Dart and Plymouth Barracuda Super Stock cars that debuted back in 1968 and are still competing today, which makes our support of this edition of the HEMI Challenge extra special.”

One special incentive for contestants is the 42.6-pound NHRA Dodge HEMI Challenge trophy, created in the spirit of the 426 (cubic inch) HEMI engine.

Jimmy Daniels has won the Challenge the last two years and goes for a three-peat in this year’s race within a race. His father, Jim Daniels, won the race in 2010.

The Challenge’s all-time winningest driver is Charlie Westcott Jr. of Parma, Michigan, who captured the Challenge in six different years: 2005, 2006, 2008, 2011, 2012 and 2014.

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