Dixon scores his first Kansas victory

Dixon scores his first Kansas victory

Scott Dixon returned to form by leading 134 laps on his way to his first victory at the 1.52-mile Kansas Speedway. After failing to finish the first two races, Dixon, the 2008 IndyCar Series Champion, fell to 17th in points. Dixon is now fourth...

Scott Dixon returned to form by leading 134 laps on his way to his first victory at the 1.52-mile Kansas Speedway. After failing to finish the first two races, Dixon, the 2008 IndyCar Series Champion, fell to 17th in points. Dixon is now fourth in the standings with 81 points.

Scott Dixon, Target Chip Ganassi Racing passes Dan Wheldon, Panther Racing.
Photo by Andy Sallee.

"There were definitely a lot of long faces after Long Beach," said Dixon. "This is a fantastic turn as we head to the Speedway."

Dixon has led 279 of the last 400 laps at Kansas, but has only produced one victory.

"This place kind of owes me," Dixon said. "Last year we led just about every lap until the last pit stop and got caught out on a yellow, cycled all the way back to 15th, and got back to third."

Helio Castroneves proved that he intends to be a championship contender despite missing the first race at St. Petersburg. He finished second, 0.714 seconds behind the leader after starting from the rear of the field.

"That was a lot of fun," said Castroneves. "This wind was a bit challenging, but it was the same for everyone."

One week ago, Castroneves was rushed to the Long Beach race on a private jet shortly after clearing his name in a Miami courtroom. Although Castroneves had not been in a car for six months, he finished 7th, placing him 19th in the championship standings. His second place finish today vaulted him 9 positions and he now sits tenth in the standings.

Tony Kanaan leaves Kansas with the points lead (100) after finishing third. "Consistency is the key," said Kanaan, who has two thirds and a fifth place finish this season. "We need to work a lot harder to get this car to win races, but in the meantime, we'll keep finishing where we need to be. Obviously this feels good but it's early in the season."

Ryan Briscoe led the race once for 53 laps but ultimately finished fourth. Briscoe said he had the car to win "until we got caught out with that yellow." Although clearly disappointed, Briscoe had to contend with an ill handling car through Turns three and four during at least one stint.

Helio Castroneves, Penske Racing with damage.
Photo by Andy Sallee.

Briscoe is now one point behind Kanaan in the standings.

Dario Franchitti, who led the championship standings after winning at Long Beach, was involved in a crash on lap 151 and he was credited with an 18th place finish.

Franchitti was forced to start 21st after his qualifying run was disallowed. He cut his way through the field, gaining fifth place before losing control as he exited the track for a pit stop. Franchitti blamed Graham Rahal for balking his progress.

"Graham just stopped in front of me coming into the pits," said Franchitti. "That's one of the places you can make up time, coming in and out of the pits and he braked hard and we were just sort of feathering the brake."

Rahal suggested that Dario was entering the deceleration lane too fast. "I hit the brakes once I ducked in pretty late -- later than I have ever hit the brakes going into a pit lane," said Rahal. "All of a sudden I see this flash going by and straight into the fence."

Rahal finished seventh.

The incident was one of three caution periods that slowed the race for 20 of the 200 laps.

Pre-race discussion focused on the treacherous winds that wreaked havoc during the Indy Lights Series, consensus being the IndyCars would encounter similar problems. Nearly half the Indy Lights race was run under yellow with five caution periods.

"In situations like this, everybody is so concerned that people don't take a lot of risks," said Kanaan. "As drivers, we get less greedy because we respect the track a lot more."

Dixon said he was expecting the race to be a lot more difficult. During our team meeting, "we were definitely talking about a lot of cautions."

Tony Kanaan's Andretti Green Racing teammates all finished in the top eight, with Danica Patrick fifth followed by Marco Andretti in sixth. The final driver in the AGR squad, Hideki Mutoh, finished eig

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