ONE TITLE WRAPPED, ANOTHER TAKES A TURN
By Dave Lewandowski, IndyCar.com
Scott Dixon secured the A.J. Foyt Oval Trophy with a third-place finish in the Kentucky Indy 300, while the Sunoco Rookie of the Year award will be decided in the IZOD INDYCAR World Championships Presented by Honda.
Dixon accumulated the most points via top-five finishes in all seven oval races (the season finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Oct.16 is not included), and outdistanced Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Dario Franchitti by 10 points. Franchitti, the inaugural award winner in 2010, won at Texas and Milwaukee but had non-top 10s at Indianapolis and New Hampshire.
“It's a big honor to win the A.J. Foyt oval award,” said Dixon, who will be presented a $50,000 check at the INDYCAR Championship Celebration on Oct. 17 at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. “The guy's a legend and a character as I'm sure everybody knows.”
Foyt, a four-time Indianapolis 500 winner and owner of the IZOD IndyCar Series team that bears his name, is the all-time leader in victories with 67 (all under USAC sanction). Foyt, whose Indy car career started on a dirt track in Springfield, Ill., in August 1957, earned his first win came at DuQuoin, Ill., on Sept. 5, 1960.
JR Hildebrand and James Hinchcliffe also have had highlights in their inaugural IZOD IndyCar Series seasons, and the Firestone Indy Lights graduates will take their Sunoco Rookie of the Year duel – six points separation -- to the 1.5-mile Vegas oval.
Hinchcliffe, driver of the No. 06 Sprott Newman/Haas Racing car, vaulted past Hildebrand in the standings with a season-best fourth place at Kentucky Speedway on Oct. 2.
"Certainly it's nice to go into the last race of the year a little bit up (in points), but at the end of the day there is still a lot that can happen,” said Hinchcliffe, who did not compete in the season opener in March. “As you can see JR was ahead of us on track at one point during the day and so many things can happen to throw you off. It just proves how tough these races are; it’s really about being there at the end. Obviously, I would rather be ahead than behind but there is still another 300 mile race to get through."
Hildebrand, runner-up in the Indianapolis 500 in May, started fifth and was running as high as second at Kentucky in the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing car. A Lap 140 pit lane incident caused the team to lose a lap and Hildebrand finished 20th.
“The National Guard guys gave me a really good race car,” he said. “On the second run, toward the end of the run the car was still hooked up. After the incident in the pits, we ended up having a little trouble getting the car sorted because we had to change the wing, and then we were never in a position to get that lap back.”