New Zealander, Scott Dixon not only came from behind to take the checked flag at the IndyCar GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma; He also astonished many fans by winning the 2015 IndyCar Series championship.
Though it looked as though it could have been a wet race, clouds were building Saturday night, yet the only rain was sporadic and came late in the night. As race day dawned, the sun was breaking through and race teams were lining up their dry tires for the race.
All through the season the championship looked as though it would come down to the last race. As the teams headed to Sonoma Raceway, six drivers mathematically remained in serious contention if this last race went their way. In end Dixon and Montoya tied with 556 points, however the win went to Dixon for his three race wins over Montoya’s two.
The feeling of loss over the passing of driver Justin Wilson was palpable. Every racecar displayed Wilson’s number 25 and fans and complete teams donned tee shirts emblazoned with a memorial of Wilson, testament on closeness of the IndyCar family.
As the field entered the uphill tight right hand second turn on the first lap Power slipped through remaining in first as Dixon jumped up gaining a number of places. Montoya struggled to stay out of trouble as championship contender, Graham Rahal attempted to keep from getting pushed out in the wheel to wheel battle.
A major collision was averted in the pits as Power was finishing his stop as teammate Simon Pagenaud had to stop to allow Power to leave. This caused Josef Newgarden to dive through Power’s pit box narrowly missing crew members.
In the mean time, Marco Andretti took the lead only to have his tires lose grip from wear allowing Sebastian Saavedra to take the number one spot. The first caution flag was brought out by Luca Filippi as his car lost power on the front straight. This allowed Dixon to pit under yellow and jump toward the lead, giving him a strong shot at the number one spot.
As the prerace festivities concluded it looked as though Juan Pablo Montoya would capture the series championship as he led in points. It seemed that went out the window as Montoya just could not catch a break. Pole sitter, Will Power and Montoya came together on lap 39 with Power spinning and Montoya having to pit to replace a broken front wing. This brought out another caution. On the restart Saavedra remained in front only to be passed by Brazilian Tony Kannaan.
Kannaan had to pit for gas and tires under a green flag which allowed Dixon to take the lead. The GoPro car of Newgarden had more trouble in the pits, following a fuel stop his car caught fire. The number 67 team suppressed the flames quickly with no damage and got him back on the track, unfortunately out of contention for a win.
Another yellow flag came out following James Jake losing his brakes causing him to hit the tire walls on the turn affectionately named the “Bus Stop” for its quick right/left sharp turns. This put Jakes out and kept the field under yellow for an extended number of laps.
Unfortunately, on the restart two cars came together to bring out another yellow. Jack Hawksworth and Carlos Munoz made contact putting Munoz off track and in need of a tow truck to get him running.
Graham Rahal was in the running for a possible champion hopeful but that ended as he was battling with Saavedra and was tapped from the rear by Sebastien Bourdais and spun in the tight number seven turn.
From then on it was clear sailing for Dixon as he pulled away from the field in the last minutes of the race toward his third race win in 2015. With Montoya finishing sixth put both drivers in a tie in the championship points, but with Dixon having won more races clenched his four title win.
On top of this, the win at Sonoma Raceway gave the Chip Ganassi team their 100th races win. This gave them more to celebrate. So much so that team owner Chip Ganassi and Dixon took their turn crowd surfing across Victory Lane.