Ganassi hits 10 IndyCar championships with Dixon’s title (VIDEO)

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Target Chip Ganassi Racing has hit the double digit stratosphere.

The team captured its 10th IZOD IndyCar Series championship Saturday night courtesy of Scott Dixon, and the fifth since Team Penske won its last one in 2006 (2008 through 2011).

It’s also the last for Ganassi with Honda, for now at least, as the team shifts to Chevrolet in 2014. Interestingly Ganassi won a title with Honda in 1999, a year before switching to Toyota in the CART ranks in 2000.

Per the eponymous team owner, this one was made all the sweeter by how resilient the team was in the face of adversity earlier this year.

“This one’s pretty special, I have to say, considering how our season started,” Ganassi said. “The fact Scott Dixon did it. We had a tough, tough beginning of the season. We had a tough Indy 500. We had a tough mid-season. Obviously Honda turned it around at Pocono. Ups and downs all season. Losing my father at one point. That took a lot of wind out of my sails. Then of course the Sonoma incident and the Baltimore incident.

“We had a lot of things – these guys never, never gave up. These guys don’t know the word ‘give up.’”

Managing director Mike Hull said Dixon’s car nearly didn’t survive the overheating caused by debris chunks entering the radiator.

“I’d have to say as hot as the engine got, Honda did what we wanted them to do what they wanted to do, and that was build an engine that didn’t break under severe conditions,” he said.

Ganassi reflected lastly on winning this championship in a year when he lost his father, Floyd.

“I’m sure he’s up there smiling down on us right now,” Ganassi said, holding back tears. “He was a big part of my career and my life. You always see people in positions like this saying, I wish my mom or dad were here. I know what that feels like here.”

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.”