Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver Scott Dixon moved into position to secure his third IZOD IndyCar Series championship with a strong weekend in the doubleheader races at Reliant Park in Houston. Dixon, who won series titles in 2003 and ’08, won Saturday’s race and finished runner-up in Sunday’s event to overtake Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves for the championship lead. Dixon entered the Houston doubleheader weekend trailing Castroneves by 49 points, but two sub-par races by the Brazilian (18th on Saturday, 23rd on Sunday) gave Dixon a 25-point advantage heading into the Oct. 19 season finale at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. Castroneves is chasing his first career IZOD IndyCar Series championship. … Dixon’s banner weekend, however, was tempered for Target Chip Ganassi Racing as his teammate Dario Franchitti was injured in a horrendous final-lap collision with Takuma Sato in Sunday’s race. Franchitti’s car went airborne upon contact with Sato and then crashed violently into the track catch fencing before coming to rest on the track. Franchitti was admitted awake and alert to Memorial Hermann Texas Medical Center in Houston for a concussion, two spinal fractures that will require no surgery and a fracture to the right ankle. He had surgery on the ankle Sunday night to stabilize it and will spend a few days in the Houston hospital before returning to Indianapolis for further evaluation. Sato was not injured in the incident, but an INDYCAR official and two spectators were transported to a local hospital for evaluation. “Thank you for all the well wishes, said Franchitti, a four-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion and three-time Indy 500 winner. “They mean a lot to me. I would also like to send my best to all the fans involved in the accident and hope that everyone is all right.” … Three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart underwent a third surgery on his right leg early Monday to examine and close a wound on his shin stemming from the broken tibia and fibula he sustained in a sprint-car crash Aug. 5 at Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa, Iowa. Stewart will remain hospitalized for observation. The surgery served as a proactive measure and team officials do not expect it to impact Stewart’s return to the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet in 2014. Stewart’s first surgery on Aug. 6 in Iowa served as a preliminary procedure to stabilize and clean the Grade 2 injury. The second surgery on Aug. 8, by a specialist in North Carolina, involved inserting a metal rod inside the tibia, pressing it to its anatomic position. … 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kurt Busch and the one-car Furniture Row organization continue to surprise in the Chase. Busch finished runner-up to Kevin Harvick in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas to move from ninth to seventh in the championship through four races. The runner-up finish matched his season best at Richmond in September and he has an average finish of 10.0 through the first four Chase races. Busch will be moving to Stewart-Haas Racing next year to join the expanded four-car organization. … Media speculation and reports over the last month that NASCAR’s new television agreement could be pushed up to the start of the 2014 season are false, according to NASCAR. The sanctioning body informed current broadcast partners – FOX, Turner and ESPN – this past weekend that they will finish the current terms of their contracts as originally planned. FOX and NBC will handle NASCAR coverage beginning in 2015. … Rising NASCAR star Kyle Larson will make his Sprint Cup Series debut this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway driving for Phoenix Racing. Larson also is scheduled to drive the No. 51 Chevrolet at Martinsville Speedway on Oct. 27. The two races are a warm-up for Larson as he prepares to move full-time to the Sprint Cup Series next season for Chip Ganassi Racing, replacing Juan Pablo Montoya in the No. 42 Chevrolet. Larson currently is ninth in the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship driving for Turner Scott Motorsports.
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