NEW CASTLE, Ind. -- Scott Dixon saved his best for last again.
The New Zealander, who recently claimed his fourth Verizon IndyCar Series championship, went from fifth to first on the final lap to win the 3rd Annual Dan Wheldon Memorial Pro-Am Karting Race Honoring Justin Wilson on Sept. 19 at New Castle Motorsports Park.
“We definitely didn’t have the fastest kart,” said Dixon, who teamed with Andrew Drake, Michael Bizzell and Nathaniel Borden in the No. 9 Target team. “We just kind of kept it clean, working with a few guys and just got lucky there at the end. There were some fast karts there, but obviously, they were worried about each other and didn’t see us coming around the outside. It worked out pretty good.”
The race, shortened to a one-hour endurance event due to rain showers earlier, featured 17 four-person Pro Am teams headed by veterans of the Verizon IndyCar Series and Mazda Road to Indy and pro drivers each took the wheel for the all-important final 15-minute.
Marco Andretti started on the pole after his #27 Bell Helmets teammates PJ Chesson, Nathan O’Rourke and Mark Dismore Jr. each came home first in their respective stints. But Andretti’s early lead was short-lived as Matthew Brabham (No. 83 AFS/Stellricht) passed him for the lead on the sixth lap.
As Andretti dropped back, his kart had contact with Jay Howard. Andretti’s kart briefly get airborne and flip over. Andretti was uninjured and able to continue the race, after flipping his own kart over, restarting the kart and rejoining the field. The incident also ended the hopes of Big Machine Records’ three-peat in the event as Josef Newgarden stopped on course to check on Andretti.
Andretti’s incident briefly split the lead pack, and left the race to be a battle between rising stars Brabham, Spencer Pigot and Sage Karam. The lead trio became a pack of five as they took the white flag but as the Brabham and Karam battled into the Red Corner hairpin on the final lap, Dixon and Will Power were able to sweep past. Dixon claimed his first win in three tries at the event followed by Power, Brabham, Karam and Pigot.
“Me and Sage started rubbing and I was pushing Power off and we were touching wheels,” said Brabham. “I was leading the whole race, pretty much, it was going well, but they just caught me on the last lap and it was a dogfight, but it was also great fun.”
But the biggest winners, by far, were three charities that benefitted from the event – The Dan Wheldon Foundation, Alzheimer’s Association and the Wilson Children’s Fund, which will share the proceeds from the event, which totaled nearly $50,000.
"We all want to win here,” Dixon said. “But just being part of the race is the biggest part. With everyone out here and supporting means the most to us. It’s fun to hang out with everybody. Dan (Wheldon) was a huge personality and it was great to honor him and Justin (Wilson) as well.”