DIXON EARNS FIRST WIN OF 2009 SEASON WITH VICTORY AT KANSAS
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (Sunday, April 26, 2009) -- Reigning IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon earned his first victory of the 2009 season, taking the checkered flag in the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway .7104 of a second ahead of Helio Castroneves.
The win was the third in a row at the track by a Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver.
Dixon entered the race 17th in points after two difficult races on street circuits to begin the season. The return to a 1.5-mile oval suited him well. After starting fourth, Dixon passed pole sitter Graham Rahal on Lap 8 and went on to lead 134 of 200 laps for his 17th career victory. The win moved Dixon to fourth in the point standings as the IndyCar Series prepares for the Indianapolis 500.
Castroneves nearly duplicated his back-to-front victory from last September at Chicagoland. In that race, Castroneves won after starting 28th. Sunday, he worked his way up from the 21st to second.
Tony Kanaan finished third. The only driver to record top-five finishes in each of the first three races this season, Kanaan moved into the points lead, one point ahead of Ryan Briscoe, who finished fourth.
Kanaan led an Andretti Green Racing contingent that placed all four drivers in the top 10 for the first time since Milwaukee 2006. Danica Patrick finished fifth, Marco Andretti sixth and Hideki Mutoh eighth.
Rahal finished seventh and two-time defending race winner Dan Wheldon finished 10th.
The No. 98 CURB/Agajanian/Team 3G entry driven by Stanton Barrett will feature the name of country music artist Rodney Atkins. Atkins' latest CURB Records release "It's America" reached No. 1 on the country music chart this week.
STEVE SUDLER (Co-owner, Team 3G): "Racing is equal parts competition and entertainment. CURB Records is an entertainment company, and we look forward to working with them to integrate their entertainment properties with our racing properties and marketing partners."
STANTON BARRETT (No. 98 CURB/Agajanian/Team 3G): "I met Rodney last week in Atlanta when we were both on the same morning show there. He's a great guy and seems excited about IndyCar Series racing. It's huge that we are able to use the IndyCar Series to promote his CD. The new song is awesome."
Sarah Fisher Racing announced an expansion of its relationship with Dollar General to increase its participation in the IndyCar Series from four races to six. The team will add races at Texas Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway to the races at Kansas Speedway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Chicagoland Speedway and Kentucky Speedway.
RICK DREILING (Chairman and CEO, Dollar General): "It's a real pleasure to be here today with Sarah and Sarah Fisher Racing. Sarah's story is very inspiring to Dollar General. When we watched her last year go through what she did at Indianapolis, we knew she was a perfect fit for all 72,500 employees at Dollar General. She's incredibly hard-working, incredibly dedicated to her sport, and the way she approaches the sport and the way she approaches the team, quite frankly, is the way Dollar General approaches its business. I'm incredibly proud and excited that Sarah Fisher will be wearing the Dollar General yellow and black this year. So on behalf of all of your friends at Dollar General, Sarah, great racing in 2009."
(About activation plans): "We currently, with the help of Frito-Lay and PepsiCo, have launched a contest across all of our Dollar General stores, where some lucky customers are going to get to go to the Indianapolis 500 from Dollar General. Sarah's likeness is spread across 8,450 stores right now, and we believe that the secret and success of any motorsports program is the ability to leverage it across the retail chain. So we're working very hard on that this year."
SARAH FISHER: "We're very excited to announce the extension of what Dollar General committed to us. Last year we announced that Dollar General would again join us this year for four races, that being here at Kansas, Indianapolis, Kentucky and Chicago. And we're very excited to announce that they have joined us again for two more races (Texas Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway), to double the amount of races that we did last year. We've been committed to the IndyCar Series, we're focused on the growth of our team within the series and to have this addition really puts us on the right track going toward 2010."
E.J. Viso got the Royal treatment Saturday night. The Kansas City Royals welcomed the PDVSA HVM Racing driver to a home game at Kauffman Stadium, giving Viso an opportunity to visit with fellow Venezuelan and Royals infielder Alberto Callaspo.
Viso watched batting practice from the field and chatted with the Royals' 26-year-old second baseman -- who, like Viso, sports the number 13. The HVM driver also had the chance to catch up with Venezuelan members of the visiting Detroit Tigers, whom he first met during a Comerica Park visit last summer.
E.J. VISO (No. 13 PDVSA HVM Racing): "It's always good to meet with fellow Venezuelan athletes and to see they are doing well in their sport. I was very happy to have the chance to meet Alberto (Callaspo) for the first time and also to see the Tigers players again. The ballpark is a great atmosphere, and it made for a nice visit with everyone."
HVM Racing announced today a partnership with iTeam Sports, an organization offering fans the possibility to become involved with a team by buying a share of team ownership.
HVM Racing is the first to venture into auto racing for iTeam Sports, which first launched operations in 2008 offering team ownership in baseball and is now applying its successful business model to racing. The partnership will allow fans to purchase small shares of ownership within iTeam Sports HVM Racing and receive owner-only benefits.
KEITH WIGGINS (Owner, HVM Racing): "This is a fantastic opportunity and a unique concept. Racing fans are very engaged with their favorite teams, and this arrangement lets them get even more involved, probably more than they even thought possible. We are very excited to work with iTeam Sports to offer such an unprecedented opportunity to get fans directly involved with iTeam Sports HVM Racing and the Indy Racing League."
STEVE LEVENSON (Founder and president, iTeam Sports): "Every motorsports fan dreams of being able to go from sitting outside the track to going behind the pit wall. iTeam Sports opens the door into a world where only a select group of people can go -- actual participation with the team. Our partnership with HVM Racing and its Indy Racing League program brings a new level of involvement for millions of open-wheel racing fans around the world."
INDYCAR SERIES POST-RACE NOTES:
* Scott Dixon earned his first win of the season and the 17th of his IndyCar Series career. This is the 49th top-five finish of his career and the 69th top-10 finish of his career.
* This is Dixon's first victory since last season at Kentucky.
* Dixon has led 279 of the last 400 laps and 295 of the last 600 laps at Kansas Speedway.
* Dixon has led laps in each of the last four races at Kansas, however this is his first victory at the track.
* This is the third consecutive victory for Target Chip Ganassi Racing at Kansas. Dan Wheldon won the last two races at the track for the team.
* Target Chip Ganassi racing drivers have led 518 of the last 600 laps at Kansas.
* Two-time defending race winner Dan Wheldon finished 10th, his second top-10 finish of the season.
* Helio Castroneves finished second after starting 21st, nearly duplicating his performance the last time he raced on a 1.5-mile oval. Last September at Chicagoland, Castroneves started 28th and went on to win.
* This is Castroneves' 67th career top-five finish and 90th career top-10 finish.
* Tony Kanaan takes over the series points lead with a third-place finish. This is his third top-five finish of the season and the 69th top-five finish of his career, the most in IndyCar Series history.
* Ryan Briscoe finished fourth, his second top-five finish of the season.
* Polesitter Graham Rahal finished seventh, his best career finish on an oval.
* Hideki Mutoh finished eighth, his first top-10 finish since last year at Mid-Ohio.
* All four Andretti Green Racing cars finished in the top 10 for the first time since Milwaukee 2006 when Tony Kanaan finished first, Marco Andretti fifth, Dario Franchitti sixth and Bryan Herta seventh.
* Ed Carpenter finished ninth, his first top-10 since last year at Kentucky.
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, first): "I think we were expecting the race to be a lot more difficult as far as the wind conditions in Turns 3 and 4 and maybe more cautions. Our team was definitely talking about a lot of cautions and making sure we saved fuel. All-in-all for me it was a pretty smooth race. We had a great car. We jumped straight to second then about 10 laps later we got Graham (Rahal) when he slid up the track a bit in Turns 3 and 4. We got out front and started saving fuel. The Target car was really good all day. We had a bit of a fumble in the pits, which dropped us back to third at one point and made it quite difficult to get past (Ryan) Briscoe. I think we were trimmed to win as they say. The car was maybe not as good as it should have been in traffic. Luckily enough, we were saving enough fuel and caught the caution that catapulted us to the front."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske, second): "That was a lot of fun. This wind was a little bit challenging, but it was the same for everyone. Team Penske did a hell of a job. Ryan (Bricoe) and I were working really well together and you can see both Team Penske cars up at the top. It's good points. Yes, you want to win, but Scott (Dixon) did a hell of a job. Andretti Green also -- it's a good battle. Hopefully this is good preparation for the Indianapolis 500."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven, third): "Consistency is definitely the key. But we need to work a lot harder to get this car to win races. But in the meantime, we keep finishing where we need to be. Obviously, it feels good, but it's so early in the season. It's good momentum going to Indy. We added a lot of downforce for the race, and that actually cost me toward the end. I told my engineer that we need to be there at the end, so don't give me a car that's going to scare the hell out of me during the whole race. Obviously I regretted it a little in the end, but it was a good result for the team."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, fourth): "It's a solid result, but it's really disappointing. We had the car to win, and we had the track position until we got caught out with that yellow, so it's really unfortunate. But I'm happy to be disappointed for that reason, that's for sure."
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Motorola, fifth): "We made some adjustments that made the car good for the race. We struggled with a little bit of understeer to start, but my guys were good in the pits, got me some front wing and they were good on the stops at the end, which is what helped me kind of jump forward and pass a couple of cars. It's tough to pass out there, and when you get behind a couple cars, it's even more understeer because there's no wind in front of you. The guys did a great job, and we're really excited to go to Indy."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Venom Energy, sixth): "I'm happy with my sixth-place finish for the No. 26 car. We struggled a bit, but I can't complain. We took a non-perfect car and kept it on pace with the leaders. We had a rough morning warm-up, but the Venom Energy boys worked hard all day, so we were able to turn the day around. I feel confident going into the Indy 500."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 02 McDonald's Racing Team, seventh): "We had a pretty good start. On the first lap, we pulled away. It was just Dixie (Scott Dixon) and I moving our way forward, trying to pull out a gap. I was struggling a bit in Turns 3 and 4, and that's where I got passed the three times I was passed. Late in the race, I discovered the high line, and that's how I got around everybody, because my car was pretty good in (Turns) 3 and 4 up top. I need to definitely think about that earlier next time. It's a lesson learned. Having to do the splash and go there at the end for what was to be our last stop really cost us four spots, so realistically we were looking pretty good. I think the McDonald's team has the outright speed, but we just need to make sure we have it for the whole race."
(About Dario Franchitti's accident:) "I didn't see that. I have no clue what happened. I'll go talk to him, but all of a sudden I saw out of my right rear mirror the thing just went straight and I was like, ‘Whoa, what happened there?' I signaled that I was coming into pit lane by putting two wheels over the white line, and I did it right off Turn 2, and then I came back out to the white line and ducked in. I hit the brakes once I ducked, and it was pretty late -- later than I have ever hit the brakes going into a pit lane. And all of a sudden I see this flash going by and straight into the fence. With the speed he was carrying, he wasn't going to make it anyway whether I was there or not."
HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 27 Formula Dream, eighth): "It was a really tough race for the Formula Dream car. We started from the 13th position and were able to move through traffic and finish seventh. I'm a little disappointed, because I think we could've had a top-five finish since I had a strong car. I can't wait for the month of May to start."
The 2009 IndyCar Series season continues May 24 with the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 1 p.m. (EDT) by ABC. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 211. The radio broadcast also will be carried on www.indycar.com. The 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season continues May 22 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast at 12:30 p.m. (EDT) on May 22 by VERSUS. The Kansas Lottery 100 will air April 27 at 4 p.m. (EDT) on VERSUS.