Dixon delivers Edmonton victory

Dixon delivers Edmonton victory

Scott Dixon's Chip Ganassi Racing crew got him out of the pits ahead of the Penske Racing teammates, and from there the New Zealander only had to keep it on the road to take home another win. He did just that, with his fifth victory of the...

Scott Dixon's Chip Ganassi Racing crew got him out of the pits ahead of the Penske Racing teammates, and from there the New Zealander only had to keep it on the road to take home another win. He did just that, with his fifth victory of the season proving a crucial result after struggling for pace most of the weekend.

Scott Dixon leads Helio Castroneves.
Photo by Covy Moore.

Dixon's Edmonton triumph was the first for Ganassi Racing north of the border since Juan Pablo Montoya won at Vancouver in 1999. Dixon led home Helio Castroneves, a bitterly disappointed second, with a trio of Edmonton veterans, Justin Wilson, Paul Tracy and Oriol Servia completing the top five.

"We definitely had to save fuel on the second stint," Dixon remarked. "Helio was very quick out front. When we jumped them in the pits, from there, it was history, man. I was hoping to at least jump (Ryan) Briscoe, but to get them both was astounding."

Dixon spoke of the race's key moment, a lap-51 pit stop sequence after the day's third full course caution for Townsend Bell's accident in turn one. Dixon had enough fuel left upon entering where he didn't need to take on as much as his rivals, and consequently got ahead of Castroneves and Briscoe. He had previously trailed those two.

Dixon restarted fourth but was the de facto leader behind Tony Kanaan, Anthony Foyt IV and Buddy Rice, all of whom were on alternate fuel strategies. Those three shuffled out of contention by process of elimination. Dixon passed Rice for third, then moved into the lead once Kanaan spun on his own and Foyt was balked by slower traffic.

Another full-course yellow, the fourth and final of the day, officially promoted Dixon to the lead. The always entertaining and almost always controversial E.J. Viso punted Graham Rahal into the tires. Rahal wasn't enjoying a fantastic day by any stretch after suffering suspension damage on the first lap, and was running several laps down.

Dixon restarted ahead of Castroneves, who hounded Dixon but could not get close enough to make a pass. Castroneves made the crucial error on lap 86, locking up his tires into turn one and losing five seconds. His first win of the year continues to elude him.

"What am I going to do, I guess I just have to laugh," Castroneves said. "I did everything I could but my tires just went off. Dixon never made a mistake. I don't know what I have to do to win a race! Man, I really wanted this one!"

Paul Tracy leads Justin Wilson.
Photo by Covy Moore.

Behind him, Wilson finally earned a good result to go along with his undisputed speed on the road and street courses. The podium was his first for Newman/Haas/Lanigan and the team's first since Rahal's win at St. Petersburg back in April. "We're pretty pleased to be back on the podium," Wilson offered. "It was a very long and trying race to stay out of trouble, and it was fun racing with Paul again, like old times."

Tracy came fourth, a fantastic result in his comeback race and proving his worth despite the grey in his beard. The 39-year-old Canadian dazzled the home crowd en route to one of his best finishes in years. "It sure feels like a win, when you consider a week ago I was in England and the week before that on a beach in San Diego," Tracy said. "I was just waiting for the right opportunity. To finish that close to the podium says a lot of Derrick Walker's (and Tony George's) team. Hopefully we can build this into a long-term partnership."

Servia did all he could and then some to finish fifth. As Marco Andretti exited the pits on lap 82, he emerged right in front of Dan Wheldon, then running third. Wheldon did all he could to avoid hitting Andretti and the resulting bottleneck effect caused Servia to run right into Wheldon's rear. Not only was his front wing damaged but his steering rack broke right at the end, and it was only thanks to a huge gap on Briscoe he finished at all.

"When Marco came out, he parked it, and Dan and I had nowhere to go," Servia said. "My car was really, really fast. But the steering rack broke the last two laps, and I was lucky to finish. We had a car as good as anybody's."

Andretti was as far back as he was thanks to an unorthodox fuel strategy of staying out through the first two yellows for a total of 40 laps, but then pitting again within the next 15 and dropping to the rear. After lapping a slower car, Andretti got a huge run on teammate Danica Patrick but apparently couldn't lock his brakes in time and plowed into her left rear tire.

There were a number of incidents, the most violent when Hideki Mutoh (another in the Andretti Green Racing quartet) lost control into the high-speed turns 13 and 14 complex and spun, splitting up the tire barriers. It was a disappointing day as mentioned for Rahal, but also Will Power, who also suffered early race suspension damage and trundled around to a lapped 22nd and last.

Completing the top ten finishers were Briscoe, Wheldon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Kanaan, and Darren Manning. Dixon has now extended his points lead to 65 over Castroneves with Wheldon, Kanaan and Briscoe in tow.

Following the six-week marathon and the thousands of miles logged by all the teams, next week is a well-deserved and much-needed break. The IndyCar Series resumes action on Saturday night August 9 in Sparta, KY.

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