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TORONTO (July 14, 2013) — Scott Dixon went into Pocono Raceway a week ago ranked seventh in the IndyCar standings and approaching the one-year mark on his last victory.
My, what a difference a week makes.
Dixon snapped his slump with a win at Pocono, then pulled off a weekend sweep Sunday of the doubleheader event at Toronto.
Three wins in seven days made Dixon the winningest active driver in IndyCar, but more importantly thrust him into the heart of the championship race. With six races remaining, he’s vaulted over the last week five spots in the standings to second and trails championship leader Helio Castroneves by 29 points.
“We’re here for the points. It’s been a hell of a swing over a seven-day period,” Dixon said. “It’s nice to put a little pressure on Helio, and hopefully we can keep that going.”
Next up for IndyCar? An Aug. 4 race at Mid-Ohio, where Dixon is the defending race winner. Dixon isn’t thinking about a second series championship just yet — he instead wants to focus on finding the same consistency Castroneves has used to take control of the points race.
“Helio has had a pretty stress-free year as far as not being involved in accidents or having mechanicals,” Dixon said. “I think it’s still going to be a tough battle. I like the look of the tracks we have coming up. I think we are in the hunt.”
Castroneves, who finished second to Dixon on Sunday, isn’t giving up and doesn’t view Dixon as any bigger of a threat than he did defending series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, who was second in the standings until this weekend.
“Both are champions ... they’ve been there,” Castroneves said. “We just got to keep focused on our work. I’m not worried less or more because it’s Scott. The same thing was with Ryan. They’re both great teams. But I trust my guys. I know we have the best equipment, the best guys out there. We know what we are capable of, that’s what we’re focused on at this point.”
But the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner admitted Sunday he desperately wants his first series championship.
“I want it as bad as anybody — especially having those guys behind me,” he said. “I have that chance. I’m going to fight as much as I can. If I have a good car to finish, I will finish strong. If I don’t have a good car to finish, I’ll play smart. I want it more than anybody.”
Dixon was barely challenged at Exhibition Place, needing to pull off two late restarts to preserve what was otherwise an easy Sunday drive.
The win was the 32nd of his career, and moved Dixon into sole possession of seventh on the all-time wins list. His victory Saturday moved him into a tie with teammate Dario Franchitti, Sebastien Bourdais and Paul Tracy, but the 32-year-old New Zealander is on the hunt for much more.
His sweep of the Toronto doubleheader also earned Dixon a $100,000 bonus from IndyCar sponsor Sonax.
“$100 grand is good, but I’d rather have the points. Points are why we’re here,” said Dixon, who moved ahead of Franchitti by one victory to become the winningest active driver in IndyCar.