Scott Dixon's bid for a fourth consecutive victory on the road course at Watkins Glen, N.Y., ended Sunday with an uncharacteristic mistake that gave Ryan Hunter-Reay the opening he needed to earn his first IndyCar Series victory.
Dixon, preparing to make a run at leader Darren Manning after a long caution period, spun out under yellow and was hit from behind by contender Ryan Briscoe. That gave the runner-up spot to Hunter-Reay, who easily passed Manning on the restart and drove away with the fourth series win for Rahal Letterman Racing.
It is the third open-wheel victory for Hunter-Reay, a Texas-born driver who won twice while driving in the now-defunct Champ Car World Series.
It was a strange finish to a race that went the first 40 laps on the 3.4-mile, 11-turn circuit with only a couple of minor incidents and wound up running under caution for most of the last 20 laps because of a series of crashes and spinouts.
Dixon said he was trying to get some heat into his new front tires after pitting on Lap 41. He shot forward and, suddenly, his Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara spun.
"I was a complete idiot," Dixon said after getting restarted and finishing 11th. "We lost a lot of valuable points today. I feel more down for Briscoe and the boys."
Briscoe, who started from the pole and led a race-high 37 laps, had to pit for a new nose after hitting the stopped Dixon. Briscoe finished 12th and was disappointed, but not angry.
"It's unfortunate," Briscoe said. "I can only imagine how Scott's feeling right now. I just wish he could have messed up and not gotten me involved. . . . I think we had a real shot. It would have been a real good fight between me and Dixie down to the finish line."
The last seven laps were run under green and Hunter-Reay pulled steadily away, beating Manning to the finish line by 2.4 seconds. Tony Kanaan wound up third.
Dixon's mistake was a break for Helio Castroneves, who had a terrible weekend but was able to hang on to second place in the season standings.
The two-time Indy 500 winner started last in the 26-car field after breaking a throttle cable Saturday in qualifying.
Castroneves lost a lap early in the race when he had what his Penske Racing team said was "an electrical or gearbox" problem, but fought back to finish 16th.
Castroneves trails Dixon by 48 points, with Dan Wheldon 59 points behind Dixon.
Lewis Hamilton mastered wet racing conditions to score a runaway victory in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone and throw the Formula One drivers championship wide open.
The 23-year-old British driver, who last year squandered a 12-point lead with two races to go in his rookie season, stayed in control on a rain-soaked track that plagued his opponents.
Hamilton led from the fourth lap in his McLaren to win his first British Grand Prix. He finished more than a minute ahead of Nick Heidfeld in a BMW Sauber. Rubens Barrichello was third for his first podium in four years and Honda's first of the season.
Hamilton has 48 points and is tied with Ferrari drivers Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen but leads the championship chase based on his better finishes in the other races.
Massa spun at least five times in the race and finished last in 13th, failing to pick up a point. Raikkonen was fourth.
Nolan signs Wild deal for $5.5 million
Owen Nolan, the 36-year-old power forward who spent last season with the Calgary Flames, signed a two-year, $5.5-million deal with the Minnesota Wild.
The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Nolan had 16 goals and 16 assists in 77 games for the Flames last season, his 16th in the NHL. He has 381 goals and 426 assists in 1,068 regular-season games with Quebec, Colorado, San Jose, Toronto, Phoenix and Calgary.
Ackles, former CFL team executive
Bob Ackles, the B.C. Lions' first water boy who went on to become president and chief executive of the Canadian Football League team, died after having a heart attack. He was 69.
Besides his years with the Lions, Ackles worked in the NFL with Dallas, Arizona, Philadelphia and Miami. He also was vice president and general manager of the Las Vegas Outlaws of the XFL.