IRL: Nashville: Race report

DIXO CLAIMS WIN, GUITAR AT NASHVILLE LEBANON, Tenn., Saturday, July 15, 2006 -- 2003 IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon led the final 66 laps to win the Firestone Indy 200 at Nashville Superspeedway. It was Dixon's second win of the 2006 season.

DIXO CLAIMS WIN, GUITAR AT NASHVILLE

LEBANON, Tenn., Saturday, July 15, 2006 -- 2003 IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon led the final 66 laps to win the Firestone Indy 200 at Nashville Superspeedway. It was Dixon's second win of the 2006 season. Dixon, driver of the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, inherited the lead by not pitting when the lead four cars pitted on Lap 133. He held on the rest of the way, holding off his hard-charging teammate Dan Wheldon to claim his first victory on an oval in three seasons. Dixon moved into second place in the IndyCar Series point standing with his victory under the lights at the 1.33-mile concrete oval.

Vitor Meira finished third in the No. 4 Revive Panther Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, while Danica Patrick tied her career best with a fourth place, advancing six positions in the No. 16 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Argent Dallara/Honda/Firestone. Helio Castroneves, finished fifth and is third in the standings. Point leader Sam Hornish Jr., who started from the pole, finished 14th after crashing out of the 200-lap event. He retains a five-point lead over Dixon. Dario Franchitti, the 2005 race winner, was sixth. Jeff Simmons posted a career-best seventh after starting 15th.

RACE DAY NOTEBOOK:

2005 IndyCar Series champion Dan Wheldon, who vowed not to shave until he won another IndyCar Series race before the last event at Kansas Speedway, actually showed up at Nashville Superspeedway clean shaven.

"I had to," Wheldon said. "I was going to get in trouble with the sponsors and Chip Ganassi."

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Andretti Green Racing co-owner Michael Andretti has announced his engagement to Jodi Ann Paterson. The couple is planning to marry on Oct. 7.

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Selected quotes from Danica Patrick's pre-race interview with ESPN:

DANICA PATRICK (No. 16 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Argent Dallara/Honda/Firestone):

(What does Danica Patrick want to do?):

"I want to race IndyCar. I really do. I want to win the Indy 500 like I said. I want to be successful here. My goals haven't changed. I came here to do well on the track, to learn, to win and be successful. And off the track, I want to grow the sport. My goals haven't changed since my parents went to the race at Chicago. All it did was show me different opportunities. Whether it comes now or three, five, seven or 10 years down the line, I'll deal with it then. Like I said, I really want to win the Indy 500."

***

FIRESTONE INDY 200 POST-RACE NOTES:

This is Scott Dixon's second victory of the season and his fifth career victory. His last victory came at Watkins Glen International in June.

This is Target Chip Ganassi Racing's third victory of the season and the ninth victory overall in the IndyCar Series. It is the team's first win at Nashville Superspeedway.

Dan Wheldon finished second, his sixth top-five finish of the season. It is the first 1-2 finish by teammates this season.

Vitor Meira finished third, his eighth consecutive top-10 finish and third consecutive top-three finish.

Danica Patrick finished a season-best fourth, tying her career-best finish. Her previous best finish this season was sixth at St. Petersburg.

FIRESTONE INDY 200 POST-RACE QUOTES:

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, Firestone Indy 200 winner):

"It's been a long time. Today, I don't think we had the fastest car, but we were consistent in traffic. We actually crashed into Helio (Castroneves) in Turn 2 on the start and bent the front a bit. It was bit slow, but the guys did a great job in the pits and the fuel mileage was awesome. Credit to Team Target for a 1-2 finish."

DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished second):

"It is a fantastic evening for Target Chip Ganassi Racing and everyone involved. It's good to see Scott (Dixon) back on top. I had a fast car, but came up short. It was a very entertaining race. It's the home of Firestone and the tires worked very well. I think the fans enjoyed it. You can't run side by side here, but it was an intense race. I'm happy for the team and happy for Honda."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 4 Revive Panther Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished third):

"The Revive Panther car, we were a little better on the first five laps of a stint. When everything got hotter, I think the Ganassi cars were a little quicker than us. I guess it showed. Third place, which is the first race with Revive, that's a really good start to the rest of the season. Now we have big support behind us, and it's only going to improve as we go on."

(Did you and Danica touch wheels)

"Not at all. She was outside, I was inside. She knew she couldn't run outside because of the marbles. There was nothing wrong there."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 16 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Argent Dallara/Honda/ Firestone, finished fourth):

"This is the product of a lot of a labor. That's for sure. We've been working so hard on this car. I'm happy for the team, for the crew, we had good pit stops today. That's what it takes to run up front. One of these times we're going to win one. We just have to hang around up there more often."

(Did you touch wheels with Vitor Meira)

"I don't know. All I know is that I didn't want to go high that's all."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished fifth):

"On the start of the race, we were three-wide going into Turn 1. Dixon was low and Kanaan was high, and Dixon started pushing up into me. I was completely sandwiched, and Dixon and I touched. I thought that we were done, but the contact only bent my steering, which hampered us for the rest of the race. All of a sudden, the great car that I had yesterday was completely gone with 200 laps to go. Thankfully, the Marlboro Team Penske crew did a great job trying to compensate for the problems during our stops, which made it better each time. Toward the end, we had a good restart, but at that point we were just trying to pick up as many points as we could. Unfortunately, we lost a spot in the standings, but it just makes us even more determined going into Milwaukee."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Klein Tools/Canadian Club Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished sixth):

"It was a long day for the Klein Tools/Canadian Club guys. We didn't get a proper warmup yesterday because I had a mechanical problem, so we really didn't know what the car was going to do in these conditions and it turned out that we had a pretty big understeer coming out of the corner. I was really getting blocked by a couple of people when I had a good chance to pass them, so that was frustrating."

MARCO ANDRETTI (#26 NYSE Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished eighth):

"It was another long night for the NYSE team. We missed the setup a little bit. It's funny because we'll have a bad first stint or two, then we'll get the car dialed in but by then its too late and we're a lap down."

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 5 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished ninth):

"It was a fun race and it was great to be back out there tonight. We had a really good car, starting midfield and got into a rhythm, but the leaders were able to come around and lap us. At the end, I think we had the car that was fast enough to get in front of (Jeff) Simmons and go to seventh. We took the option earlier on to try to get to the end on fuel and we had to lean it out a lot and lift a little bit on the straight to conserve fuel; so we dropped back to ninth. I think we ran a good race today. I think for our first time here back on the oval, it was a great experience."

-irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Dan Wheldon , Jeff Simmons , Chip Ganassi , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing