Podium Finish for Dixon on Mean Streets of St.Pete St. Petersburg, Florida, Sunday, April 2, 2006- Target Chip Ganassi Racing followed up last week's season opening win in Homestead with a second place finish as driver of the no.9 Target Honda...
Podium Finish for Dixon on Mean Streets of St.Pete
St. Petersburg, Florida, Sunday, April 2, 2006- Target Chip Ganassi Racing followed up last week's season opening win in Homestead with a second place finish as driver of the no.9 Target Honda Panoz Scott Dixon battled to the end with damaged front wing in another exciting street fight on the 1.8-mile temporary track at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
From his second place starting position beside pole sitter Dario Franchitti, Dixon battled smartly to take the lead on three occasions (36 laps total) but was hampered with a damaged front wing for the last half of the 100 lap race.
After relinquishing the lead to Helio Castroneves to pit for a splash of fuel on lap 95, Dixon exited the pits just ahead of Tony Kanaan, but never had a chance to chase down Castroneves after Tomas Scheckter and Buddy Rice made contact while battling for fourth place. The race ended under caution giving Dixon second spot on the podium and in the driver championship points just behind race winner Castroneves.
"It started out pretty good for us with a clean start heading into Turn 1 so I couldn't ask for much more than that," said Dixon who posted his fourth consecutive top-10 finish and his third top five in four starts dating back to last season. "Dario (Franchitti) was quick from the start but he had his issues there after a while and we were able to come through. We were able to maintain a good pace and continued on the fuel strategy that was working for us. Ultimately the front wing cost us a bunch of time, and we were a bit handcuffed by the situation. After a while I just plain couldn't turn the car to the right. When Helio eventually got around us I just made sure he had enough room to get through, playing it as safe as I could. The car continued to stay on a good pace despite the vibration the wing created. In the end we had a reasonable result which moved us up in the pints and that's not much to complain about."
Defending race winner and local resident, Dan Wheldon had an even tougher battle on his hands starting from the 13th spot on the grid. After being forced to pit for tires after contact with rookie Marco Andretti (Lap 27), the driver of the no.10 Target Honda steadily fought his way back. However, on lap 57, after initially beating the no. 6 car out of the pits under caution, Wheldon was directed to take his place ahead of Sam Hornish. The two cars made contact and the Wheldon's Target car sustained enough damage to the rear suspension that it eventually ended his race in the pits.
"The Target team got word from Race Control that we were indeed in front of the no.6 car coming out of the pits and that we were going to be waved ahead of (Sam) Hornish," said Wheldon who was being credited with a 16th place finish and is now third in the driver championship standings. "All I saw was Sam's (Hornish Jr.) hand come off the wheel like he was signaling to let me by. I waved a "thank you" back, made the pass and then suddenly I was up in the air and out of the race. I made it back to the pits but there was too much damage to repair. I'm disappointed for the Target Team because we overcame a lot to try and get back into the fray at the front. The no.10 Target Honda was as quick as the leaders but it just didn't happen for us today."
In three weeks time, the team will be back on track in the Land of the Rising Sun, as the Indy Racing League returns to Japan's Twin Ring Motegi track for the third race of the 14-race IndyCar Series 2006 season. Target fans can tune in to watch the Indy Japan 300 on ESPN2 at midnight (EDT) Saturday, April 22nd or they can listen in on the IMS Radio Network. Throughout the 2006 season, fans are invited to follow the team's progress by logging onto their official website at www.target.com/racing