Dixon Flawless in Texas Triumph Scott Dixon continued to put his stamp on the 2008 IndyCar Series, completing a virtual trouble-free run when all around him encountered problems to win Saturday night's...
Dixon Flawless in Texas Triumph
Scott Dixon continued to put his stamp on the 2008 IndyCar Series, completing a virtual trouble-free run when all around him encountered problems to win Saturday night's Bombardier Learjet 550 at Texas Motor Speedway for his third win of the season and a healthy 35-point lead in the championship standings.
Starting from the pole, Dixon ran in the lead pack for the entire 228-lap race distance while all of his challengers -- including Helio Castroneves, Marco Andretti, Ryan Briscoe, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Vitor Meira -- encountered problems, penalties, misfortune or the unyielding walls of the high-banked, 1.5-mile oval. It was a typically hard-fought Texas race, with 22 official lead changes among six drivers.
Dixon's strongest late-race rivals for the victory, Andretti and Hunter-Reay, were eliminated in a hard crash on Lap 222 that resulted in the race ending under caution. The pair made contact in Turn Four while battling for second place, but both drivers apparently escaped serious injury.
Two other potential race winners, Team Penske's Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe, spent much of the night recovering from early mistakes. Briscoe mistakenly pulled into the pit stall of Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Dan Wheldon during the first round of stops and was assessed a drive-through penalty, while later in the race Castroneves received the same penalty for speeding as he entered pit lane. Both fell off the lead lap as a result of the penalties.
Castroneves still managed to lead a race-high 85 laps to recover to second place, while Briscoe set some of the fastest laps in the race en route to his third-place finish.
Wheldon showed no after-effects from a rollover crash in practice on Friday to come home fourth tonight. Andretti Green Racing teammates Tony Kanaan and Hideki Mutoh ran fifth and sixth, respectively, as Mutoh solidified his lead in the series Rookie standings with another strong performance. Vitor Meira's Panther Racing team attempted a alternative pit strategy that might have paid off with a long-overdue victory, but that was spoiled by the late-race cautions. He finished a lap down in seventh.
Through it all, Dixon sailed on untroubled, leading 58 laps, rarely running lower than third, and with flawless pit stops from his Target Chip Ganassi Racing crew for his first win at Texas Motor Speedway.
After nearly eight weeks of consecutive action, the IndyCar Series now takes a one-week break before resuming June 22 at the tight Iowa Speedway for the Iowa Corn Indy 250.
Scott Dixon (#9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) Started 1st, finished 1st, 3rd victory of 2008 and 13th career IndyCar win: "I can't believe it. It's a fantastic win for the team. I'm sorry for the fans, for the race ending under caution, but after a lot of trying, we've finally won Texas. The guys on the team did a great job of taking care of our fuel mileage tonight. There were a couple of close calls out there with the wind out of Turn 2 and a couple of other times with traffic, but for the most part everybody kept it pretty clean out there. Our pit stops were phenomenal. Every time I needed to jump up a spot, they got the job done. We just want to win this championship, that's the biggest thing we need to do."
Helio Castroneves (#3 Team Penske Honda) Started 2nd, finished 2nd: "For the conditions we went through tonight, this was a 'victory' for us. The guys in the pits did an incredible job getting me back on the lead lap after my mistake. I came in too fast and started to lock up the brakes, so I had to let off the brakes to keep from spinning and was speeding into pit lane as a result. But I had a fantastic car, and the team did a fantastic job. We made up one full lap under green flag conditions, and that's pretty incredible. We definitely had a car capable of winning tonight, it's just a shame that we came up a little bit too short."
Ryan Briscoe (#6 Team Penske Honda) Started 3rd, finished 3rd: "Well, what a race. It was 'full on' every single lap out there. I don't know what I was thinking when I went into the wrong pit box. It's a mistake I'll be sure never to make again. Coming through the field, the car was great in traffic. Later, coming off Turn 2, Hunter-Reay had a bit of a wobble and I hit him, and that damaged the nose and made for a long pit stop. Third almost feels like a victory tonight. Maybe it's a sign of luck turning our way. I don't think we'll get away with that every race, but we'll take this one."
-credit: honda racing