20-year-old Dixon sets world record

Posted: Monday, May 07, 2001

NAZARETH, Pa. -- Scott Dixon is the youngest winner in the history of big-time open-wheel auto racing, and the only one who can't celebrate legally.

''We've sort of been known to drink,'' he said of those from his native New Zealand. ''But I can't go out I guess, I'm too young.''

The 20-year-old rookie became the youngest winner ever Sunday when he held off Kenny Brack to take the Lehigh Valley Grand Prix.

Dixon eclipsed the mark of Sam Hornish Jr., 21 when he won this season in the Indy Racing League, and the CART record of the late Greg Moore, 22 when he won for the first time. Bruce McLaren won in Formula One at 22.

The victory Sunday was particularly emotional for PacWest Racing Group, which had to withdraw one of its cars because driver Mauricio Gugelmin's son died Thursday.

Dixon displayed the kind of talent he used to win six races and the Indy Lights developmental series title last year. He never wavered after taking the lead when Tony Kanaan pitted on lap 191 and stayed ahead of Brack for the last 36 laps at Nazareth Speedway.

''This was amazing, especially because this was a difficult week for all of us,'' Dixon said. ''I just kept looking up at the board to see how many laps were left. I had a mirrorful of Kenny over those last laps.''

Dixon's only close call didn't matter. It came on the cooldown lap when he ran over the left rear wheel of Max Wilson's car. He thought he was racing for position, and didn't realize he already had won.

''But I'm 20, come on,'' he said

But he wasn't heading for the finish as he originally thought because the victory was already in the book for his Reynard-Toyota, and owner Bruce McCaw was able to relax.

''We're so thrilled,'' said McCaw, whose team hadn't won since Mark Blundell -- whom Dixon replaced this season -- got the last of his three victories in 1997. ''It's been a long weekend, but it's a great way to come out of it.''

Only Nigel Mansell, who won in his first CART start in 1993, was faster to his first checkered flag. Juan Montoya also won in his third start, in 1999.

Dixon beat Brack by 0.366 seconds. The win from the 23rd spot on the 25-car grid was the second-greatest advance to victory in CART history.

He used an early pit stop to top off his fuel tank and his car never sputtered. He never eased off the throttle, and never needed much advice over the final laps despite his youth.

''It was just a lot of radio communication with the team to see if I had enough fuel to go the distance,'' Dixon said. ''We were lucky to have saved enough fuel early on.''

Brack, the 2000 Rookie of the Year in CART, was disappointed that he was unable to parlay his fourth straight front-row start into his first victory. He didn't handle the sharp turns on the narrow and tight track as well as Dixon, whose poise impressed him.

''He didn't make a mistake,'' Brack said. ''He was very tough in the right places.''

COMMERCE, Ga. -- Frank Pedregon raced to his fourth career NHRA Funny Car victory, beating Ron Capps in the final of the Advance Auto Parts Southern Nationals.

Pedregon had a quarter-mile run of 4.902 seconds at 305.98 mph, while Capps lost traction and finished in 5.556 at 180.07.

Mike Dunn won the Top Fuel division, and Jim Yates took the Pro Stock competition.

NASCAR Trucks

MADISON, Ill. -- Ted Musgrave swept to victory in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series' Ram Tough 200, giving up the lead only for three pit stops.

Musgrave, who won for the third time in five events, led 140 of the 160 laps around the 1.25-mile Gateway International Raceway.

The 45-year-old former Winston Cup driver's Dodge Ram finished 10.428 seconds ahead of Ultra Motorsports teammate Scott Riggs.

Musgrave averaged 112.237 mph, and earned $48,310, plus a $10,000 bonus for winning from the pole position. He also won in Homestead, Fla. and Bakersfield, Calif.



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