Not many people leave a Las Vegas casino a million dollars richer than when they arrived. Two-time IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon will walk away with at least that after collecting his $1 million bonus check for winning the 2008 IndyCar Series championship.
Dixon and Firestone Indy Lights champion Raphael Matos - along with other drivers, teams and manufacturers – were recognized during the Indy Racing League Championship Celebration at The Palms resort. The honorees were entertained by iconic comedians and magicians Penn and Teller.
Brian Barnhart, president of the competition and operations division of the Indy Racing League, sanctioning body of the IndyCar Series, presented Dixon with a $1 million championship bonus check and his mini IndyCar Series championship trophy. A mini IndyCar Series championship trophy also was awarded to Target Chip Ganassi Racing owner Chip Ganassi.
"To win this title is so much sweeter than the one I won in 2003," Dixon said. "When I won the first championship, I didn't realize what I had won. To win this title, in the way the series was this year with the merge, makes it something I can cherish."
In addition to the championship bonus, Dixon accepted the $25,000 DIRECTV HD Crystal Clear Moment of the Year Award, $10,000 Bosch Platinum Award and received a $100,000 diamond-encrusted champion’s timepiece from Ritmo Mundo.
Ricky Davis, chief mechanic for Dixon’s No. 9 Honda-powered Dallara, accepted the PEAK Motor Oil IndyCar Series Chief Mechanic of the Year Award and its $25,000 prize.
Hideki Mutoh of Andretti Green Racing accepted the $50,000 Bombardier LearJet Rookie of the Year Award and was recognized with the Firestone IndyCar Series Rising Star award. Vitor Meira accepted the Xtrac Championship Award and its $5,000 prize, while Tony Kanaan won the MAC Tools Lap Leader Award.
Matos accepted the Firestone Firehawk Cup along with a $5,000 award from Lincoln Electric, the $5,000 prize as the winner of the Lucas Oil Rookie of the Year Award, $5,000 as the winner of the MAC Tools Lap Leader Award and a championship watch from Ritmo Mundo valued at $25,000. Fireston also awarded a paiting by motorsports artist Jim Swintall to Matos to commemorate his title.
"It means a lot," said the 27-year-old native of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, who will graduate to the IndyCar Series in 2009. "It's my most important (title) and the result of a big effort by AFS/Andretti Green crew and I couldn't have landed the ride with Luczo Dragon without the win."
Jayson Madison, chief mechanic for Matos’ No. 27 AFS Racing/Andretti Green Racing entry, accepted $5,000 as Mo’sGold Chief Mechanic of the Year.
Dillon Battistini of Panther Racing claimed the $5,000 Gregory & Appel Securing Tomorrow Award, while James Davison of Sam Schmidt Motorsports claimed the Sunoco Most Improved Driver and its $10,000 prize for improving the most total positions during the 2008 season.
IndyCar Series award winners
Championship driver: Scott Dixon
Herff Jones Championship Driver Award (ring valued at $5,000): Scott Dixon
Ritmo Mundo Championship Driver Award (diamond watch valued at $100,000): Scott Dixon
Canon USA Championship Award (Prize package valued at $2,000): Scott Dixon and Ricky Davis
Championship team: Target Chip Ganassi Racing
Championship team sponsor: Target
Championship team manager: Scott Harner and Barry Wanser
PEAK Motor Oil Chief Mechanic of the Year Award ($25,000): Ricky Davis
Bombardier Rookie of the Year Award ($50,000): Hideki Mutoh
Second place championship driver: Helio Castroneves
Second place championship team: Team Penske
Third place championship driver: Tony Kanaan
Third place championship team: Andretti Green Racing
Firestone IndyCar Series Rising Star: Hideki Mutoh
DIRECTV Crystal Moment of the Year ($25,000): Scott Dixon
BOSCH Platinum Award ($10,000 for highest-finishing driver using Bosch spark plugs): Scott Dixon
Xtrac Championship Award ($5,000 for driver who won most Xtrac Awards during 2008): Vitor Meira
MAC Tools Lap Leader Award (assortment of tools worth $25,000): Tony Kanaan
Manufacturer Recognition Awards: Honda, Firestone, Delphi, Dallara, Xtrac and K&N Filters
Firestone Indy Lights award winners
Championship driver (mini Firehawk Cup): Raphael Matos
Herff Jones Championship Driver Award (ring valued at $4,000): Raphael Matos
Ritmo Mundo Championship Driver Award (watch valued at $25,000): Raphael Matos
Lincoln Electric Company Championship Driver Award ($5,000): Raphael Matos
Lucas Oil Rookie of the Year ($10,000): Raphael Matos
MAC Tools Lap Leader Award (assortment of tools worth $10,000): Raphael Matos
Championship team (mini Firehawk Cup): AFS Racing/Andretti Green Racing
Lincoln Electric Company Championship Team Award (welding product): AFS Racing/Andretti Green Racing
Mo’sGold Chief Mechanic of the Year ($5,000): Jayson Madison
Second place championship driver: Richard Antinucci
Second place championship team: Sam Schmidt Motorsports
Lincoln Electric Company Second Place Championship Team Award (welding product):
Sam Schmidt Motorsports
Third place championship driver: Ana Beatriz
Third place championship team: Sam Schmidt Motorsports
Lincoln Electric Company Third Place Championship Team Award (welding product):
Sam Schmidt Motorsports
Firestone Indy Lights Rising Star: Ana Beatriz
Ethos for Earth Hard Charger Award ($5,000): Sean Guthrie
Mesco Building Solutions Building for the Future Award ($5,000): Team E
Firestone Consistency Bonus ($5,000): Brent Sherman
Gregory & Appel "Securing Tomorrow" Award ($5,000): Dillon Battistini
Sunoco Most Improved Driver ($10,000): James Davison