Richmond: Series race report

DIXON WINS AT RICHMOND, TIES HORNISH'S ALL-TIME VICTORY RECORD RICHMOND, Va. (Saturday, June 27, 2009) - Scott Dixon one-upped Sam Hornish Jr. Dixon, who started next to polesitter Dario Franchitti, won the SunTrust Indy Challenge at...

DIXON WINS AT RICHMOND, TIES HORNISH'S ALL-TIME VICTORY RECORD

RICHMOND, Va. (Saturday, June 27, 2009) - Scott Dixon one-upped Sam Hornish Jr.

Dixon, who started next to polesitter Dario Franchitti, won the SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond International Raceway by 0.3109 of a second over his Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate.

The victory - Dixon's third of the season and second at Richmond - was the 19th of Dixon's IndyCar Series career and tied Hornish for the most in series history. Dixon, driving the No. 9 entry, matched the record in his 104th race - one less than Hornish, who totaled 116 starts from 2000-2006.

Graham Rahal finished third - his best oval finish - in the No. 02 McDonald's entry for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing. Hideki Mutoh, who led the first laps of his IndyCar Series career, finished fourth in the No. 27 Formula Dream car and Andretti Green Racing teammate Danica Patrick was fifth.

Franchitti, who earned a bonus point for winning the PEAK Performance Pole Award, took the championship points lead (279-278) over Dixon. Ryan Briscoe, the points leader entering the eighth of 17 races, suffered his first DNF since July 2008 at Nashville Superspeedway and fell to 26 points behind. His Team Penske teammate, Helio Castroneves, also crashed exiting Turn 2 and is fourth with 225 points heading to Watkins Glen International, the first of three consecutive road/street races.

DAY 2 NOTEBOOK:

Helio Castroneves' third Indianapolis 500 victory, which he accomplished six weeks after being found non-guilty by a federal court jury of tax-evasion charges, is nominated in the "Best Moment" category.

"It's so many things together," said Castroneves, who celebrated with his traditional fence climb and broke into tears in Victory Circle. "It was a moment for me, a moment for the fans, a moment for the track being 100 years old. It's certainly one moment that I'll never forget."

Also nominated are the victory by the U.S. swim team in the Olympic relay and University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow's emotional speech in a news conference following the team's only loss during the 2008 season.

Castroneves and reigning IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon also are nominated in the "Best Driver" category along with Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton, NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson and NHRA top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher.

"To be in this category is just fantastic. It's great if we can make it happen," Castroneves said.

Added Dixon: "It's cool."

The ESPY Awards, which are distributed for Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly, was created by ESPN in 1993. Through July 11, fans can vote for Castroneves and Dixon at www.espys.tv or via mobile phone at www.espn.mobi.

The ESPYs, hosted by Samuel L. Jackson, will be broadcast at 9 p.m. (EDT) July 19 on ESPN. IndyCar Series driver Danica Patrick will be an award presenter.

***

Team 3G announced that eco-friendly lighting technology manufacturer Novicomm will become a marketing partner for the remainder of the 2009 IndyCar Season. The Novicomm logo will be displayed on the Team 3G car beginning this weekend with driver Jaques Lazier.

"We are honored that Novicomm has selected Team 3G as a platform for marketing cutting-edge and eco-friendly products that preserve the environment and saves money for both companies and consumers" said Team 3G co-owner Steve Sudler. "We look forward to introducing their LED lighting systems to environmentally conscious IndyCar fans."

Novicomm markets solid state lighting using light emitting diodes (LED) that effectively replace fluorescent bulbs. The LED Replacements product line includes standard commercial cylinders, custom tubes and other products in development. Lighting accounts for 8 percent of all energy consumption in the United States and 22 percent of electricity nationwide, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. If solid-state lighting, such as light emitting diodes, replaced all existing lights, the DOE estimates customer savings of $115 billion by 2025 and a 10 percent reduction in greenhouse emission gases.

"The IndyCar Series provides a great platform to showcase our technology and deliver our eco-friendly message to a passionate audience" said Novicomm CEO Michael Ernst. "Since all Indycars are powered by ethanol, we have a shared vision with the IndyCar Series in reducing greenhouse emission gases."

***

McDonald's, primary sponsor of Graham Rahal's No. 02 car for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, produced 250,000 souvenir soda cups bearing the second-year IndyCar Series driver's image for 95 Central New York restaurants from Utica to Binghamton.

"It's cool what they've done," said Rahal, who will be competing in the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen on July 4-5. "They told me they sold out of them a couple weeks earlier than they thought they would so I was pretty happy about that. I have a few of them at home and I'm hanging onto them tight. It would be cool to see one pop up somewhere."

***

Almost everyone of legal drinking age in the state has a Michael Jackson moment in their head this weekend -- a song, a performance - at Richmond International Raceway.

The King of Pop, whose album "Thriller," 27 years ago altered the direction of pop music and videos, died June 25 in California. He was 50. Jackson was preparing for 50 shows scheduled at London's O2 Arena this summer.

"When I was young and he was in his heyday, my mom and I would drive all over whenever he used to come to Texas," A.J. Foyt Racing team director Larry Foyt said. "We would catch the show in Houston and then go to Dallas. A.J. used to make fun of me for liking him. If it's not country and western, it was 'Why are you listening to that?' ''

Asked to pinpoint his favorite Jackson song, Foyt - like most - couldn't formulate an immediate answer.

"There are just so many and different types, I'm going to go with 'The Way You Make Me Feel,' " he said.

Sales of more than 750 million albums in his solo career (not counting those with his brothers, The Jackson 5) put him in the company of other pop icons the Beatles and Elvis Presley.

It was the 1970s Saturday morning cartoon show on ABC featuring the brother act that Helio Castroneves, who was singing parts of the theme song, "ABC," on pit lane after qualifications for the SunTrust Indy Challenge.

"Man, I love the cartoon, 'The Jackson 5ive,' and the "ABC," he said. "It was awesome."

***

Davey Hamilton will be pulling double duty today. Hamilton finished 20th in the James River Grounds 100 USAC Silver Crown Championship Series race and will enter the radio broadcast booth for the SunTrust Indy Challenge tonight. Hamilton will join Indy Racing Radio Network anchor Mike King in calling the 300-lap IndyCar Series race. Hamilton has 51 IndyCar Series starts including nine in the Indianapolis 500.

***

The United States men's national soccer team will face Brazil for the FIFA Confederations Cup on June 28 in South Africa. Here in Richmond, the match has drawn interest from IndyCar Series drivers hailing from both countries.

"Of course, I've been following the tournament," said 2004 IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan, who lists Brazilian soccer star Kaka among his most admired athletes. "Brazil beat the U.S. 3-0 last week, and I'm sure that's what's going to happen tomorrow. Brazil has a big tradition about soccer and we played really well but he U.S. won against Spain, I live here now, but obviously I'm going to cheer for Brazil tomorrow."

While soccer doesn't hold as big an interest for the U.S.-born IndyCar Series drivers, some of them have been following the exploits of the American team. Danica Patrick applauded the team's effort via the social networking site Twitter following its win over Spain and Ed Carpenter said he has been following the team thanks to updates from his sister-in-law's husband.

***

Vision Racing has re-launched its Web site at www.visionracing.com. The newly updated Web site includes the standard features such as team news and information, driver and crew profiles, results, statistics, sponsor profiles, but will also take visitors beyond the traditional motorsports website experience by inviting them into Vision Racing's world through its special "For the Fans" satellite site and social media integration.

***

Craig McCain will change the inside rear tire for the No. 7 car driver by Danica Patrick tonight. McCain is filling in for Len Gauci, who sustained a leg injury in a pit lane incident during practice last weekend at Iowa Speedway.

***

Mario Moraes is paying tribute to Michael Jackson by wearing a silver driving glove on his right hand - the same as the famed glove of the late entertainer.

***

SUNTRUST INDY CHALLENGE POST-RACE QUOTES:

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, winner SunTrust Indy Challenge): "Richmond has been a place I've wanted to win at again for quite some time. You know, we won here in 2003. To come through and get the points when we need them and have such a great day points-wise over the Penske two was very, very big. I definitely hand it to Team Target. The guys definitely had it covered with a 1-2 and almost putting the majority of the field almost a lap down."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, finished second): "It's a great 1-2 for the Target team. It came down to a yellow. We were very close on fuel and had to come in when the pits are closed. We couldn't pass. We were a second slower when we were in traffic. I have to apologize to the fans because that was an awful, awful race. There's nothing the drivers can do about it. We're trying as hard as we can. It was a terrible race, but the bright spot is a 1-2 for Team Target."

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 02 McDonald's Racing Team, finished third): "It shows how hard the McDonald's guys worked because honestly at the start of this weekend we weren't where we wanted to be and we were struggling. We just kept working through it. It's great to be on the podium. We've been good on the short ovals but we just need to find some more speed on the mile-and-a-halfs."

HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 27 Formula Dream, finished fourth): "The car was great. We made some changes at practice yesterday so that made the car better. The guys did a fantastic job with the pit stops."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Boost Mobile/Motorola, finished fifth): "It was good. I wasn't sure how staying out on that first yellow would work out. I guess it did work out. When we first went back out we were really fast and we were picking people off. I don't know if that had anything to do with that strategy working out. The guys did a real good job in the pits tonight. I would have liked to stay up with Scott and Dario in the beginning when we stayed out because I think we had the pace. The car got better and better all night. When you get lapped traffic in the way some are tougher than others and it makes for a long night. It was a solid run for AGR. We need to put our heads together and figure out what happened with our qualifying here and apply that to everywhere else. We will have to work harder."

RAPHAEL MATOS (No. 2 US Marines/Luczo Dragon Racing, finished eighth): "We're happy to finish top 10, but we had a top 5 car. We were held up on one of the restarts and that really hurt us. Overall it's a good result. After a DNF at Iowa it was extremely important for us to finish tonight. It was good for the Marines Luczo Dragon team to get another top 10, to increase the lead in the Rookie of the Year race and to pick up two positions in the point standings. We proved again that we are capable of running up front. We have the performance, it's just a matter of putting all the pieces together."

ROBERT DOORNBOS (No. 06 Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, finished ninth): "That was very hard work for P9. It reminds me of my F1 days when you had to work really hard to get up there. I'm very happy with the experience. It was very good for us to come home like this. All my team did a great job in setting up the car, it was really good to drive. Unfortunately, we got unlucky with the yellow twice. I think we had the pace, especially with new tires. I was pushing really hard and really enjoyed that. For me it was like driving like in qualifying for 300 laps. With a bit more luck with the yellows we would have been higher but I'm happy with a good solid race. This will make me stronger on ovals but I have to be honest, I look forward to the road courses."

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Menards/Vision Racing): "It was a frustrating race. You could run a decent pace on your own but this was like no Richmond race I have ever run before. The no.20 Menards car was really affected by dirty air and loss of grip in traffic. We didn't have much luck with cautions coming out of the pits either. Finishing in 13th place is nothing to be happy with but we made it through in one piece when others didn't."

JAQUES LAZIER (No. 98 Novicomm LED Lighting Technology): "We've been battling a car that we just can't get a hold of. At the start of the race we went into the corner and got tied up with everyone slowing down I was just waiting when the thing just snapped around on me. It is a tough deal and I feel bad for the guys."

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske): "The car just snapped on me and caught me by surprise (Briscoe was involved in a single-car incident in Turn 2 on lap 27). It's obviously very disappointing and hopefully we can start catching back up next week in Watkins Glen. I feel bad for the Team Penske guys, they worked hard all weekend and it's a shame we ended the race they way we did."

MIKE CONWAY (No. 24 Charter/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): "Basically Ed (Carpenter) came out of the pits and I went to the outside of him and caught the marbles. That was it."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske): "I'm extremely disappointed with the way our race ended tonight. We didn't have a winning car but we had a top-5 car and we were just trying to stay on the lead lap and score some Championship points. Unfortunately for some reason a car slowed down in front of me and in order for me to not crash him, I ended up crashing myself. I had to get out of the throttle which just pushed my car up into the marbles and then the wall. We just have to focus on Watkins Glen and move forward."

***

The 2009 IndyCar Series season continues July 5 with the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen at Watkins Glen International. 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 with the Corning 100 on July 4 at Watkins Glen International. The race will be telecast at 11 p.m. on July 6.

-credit: irl

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