Scott Dixon captures 2013 IndyCar title with fifth at Fontana

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Scott Dixon has won his third career IZOD IndyCar Series championship after a controlled drive in the season finale, the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway. It matches his “years of five” rule, after also winning titles in 2003 and 2008.

Dixon finished fifth as polesitter Will Power won the race. He’ll have a margin of victory of 27 points in the series standings. Attrition played a massive role as only eight of the 25 cars that started finished, easily the fewest this season.

“It was a crazy day,” Dixon told NBCSN’s Kevin Lee in victory lane. “We started back, the car we had to work on all race. It’s a huge credit to Team Target. We had strategy and some overheating problems to the end. Can’t believe we won the championship. I guess the five year thing played out, through the trials and tribulations this year.”

“Dario I owe this to you, a crazy year, hope you’re back in the car soon, thanks man,” he added, to longtime teammate Dario Franchitti.

Helio Castroneves ran in the top five most of the race, but he needed to finish first or second to have any shot at overtaking the points leader and erasing the 25-point deficit.

The crucial point for Dixon, who started only 17th after an engine change and a 10-spot grid penalty, was the second round of pit stops on Lap 73. Dixon gained six positions on that pit stop exchange and advanced to sixth place.

The final blow for Castroneves came on Lap 211, when team boss and race strategist Roger Penske called him into the pits for a stop when pit lane was closed.

Castroneves started at the back of the queue after a restart following a spin by Dixon’s Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Alex Tagliani.

Despite the setback, Castroneves made his restart on Lap 216 a good one. He gained eight spots in two laps, from 11th place to third, even to the lead temporarily. But damage to his right front wing and a pit stop on Lap 227 basically ended his chances. He finished sixth.

Fernando Alonso completes first test with United Autosports

Photo: United Autosports
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Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.

The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.

“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.

Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”

Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.

“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.

Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.