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Dixon gets dramatic Sonoma IndyCar win; Power is 10th

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POSTED August 24, 2014 10:26 p.m.

SONOMA — Scott Dixon patiently stalked race leaders Graham Rahal and Mike Conway over the closing laps of Sunday’s GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma before blowing by Conway with just three laps to go in the 85-lap race to capture his second Verizon IndyCar win of the season.

Graham Rahal led the race with just four laps to go, but he was unable to nurse his fuel-starved car to the finish and was forced to peal off to the pits for a splash and go allowing Conway to inherit the top spot.

Ryan Hunter-Reay (No.28 DHL Andretti Autosports) took the checkered for second place, finishing 1.1359 seconds behind Dixon and Simon Pagenaud (No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports) finished third.

Conway whose No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Ed Carpenter Racing car ran out of fuel about 300 yards short of the finish line dropped all the way to 14th and Rahal ended up in 20th after incurring a speeding violation during his late race pit stop.

In all, twenty cars finished on the lead lap, tying a season high set in the Indianapolis 500.

“It was really tough. There were so many strategies and they were slightly different so I wasn’t sure who could make it to the end on fuel and who couldn’t,” said Dixon, driving the No. 9 Target car for Chip Ganassi Racing. “We had a strong car all weekend. This is just big for our team.”

It was the 35th career victory for Dixon, which tied him with Bobby Unser for fifth on the all-time list. Legends AJ Foyt and Mario Andretti lead in all time victories with 67 and 52, respectively.

Although Sonoma is considered to be one of the toughest circuits on the schedule for passing the twisting 2.38-mile, 12-turn road course provided plenty of excitement and drama throughout the race.

Will Power, driving the No. 12 Team Penske Verizon, entered the race with a 39-point lead over teammate Helio Castroneves (No. 3 Hitachi) in his quest to finally win the season championship after finishing second in the final standings from 2010 through 2012.

The day started well for Power when he led the field through most of the first half of the race while Castroneves became involved in a opening lap shunt that put him to the back of the pack.

However, Power’s fortunes suddenly shifted on lap 40 when he spun out coming on to the back straight which dropped to the back of the field behind Castroneves.

A bad pit stop by Castroneves and some late race passing, which included a three car wide drag race with Justin Wilson and Sebastien Bourdais to the checkered flag, allowed Power to rebound for a 10th place finish, eight spots ahead of Castroneves.

“It took me by surprise, I got in a bit to tight and it just spun around. I looked like I was doing a couple of early celebratory doughnuts,” joked Power, who was evacuated from his room at 3 am the night before the race due to the Napa earthquake. “I saw Justin slowing at the end and when we went three wide I thought ‘wow, this is going to be interesting’ and I can’t believe I got through. It was pretty hairy finish.”

As a result, Power takes a 51-point lead over Castroneves and 81 points over Pagenaud to the MAVTV 500 season finale on August 30th at the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway oval where a maximum of 104 points are available.

“It’s a pretty disappointing finish, to be honest. We were really fast all weekend and to get hit so early on in the race was really tough,” said Castroneves. “We still have 500 miles left though and we’re not giving up.”

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