IRL: Nashville: Chip Ganassi Racing race report

First 1-2 Finish for Target Team in IndyCar Series Nashville, TN, Saturday, July 15, 2006-- Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon combined to lead a total of 184 of the 200 lap race at Nashville Superspeedway to give the team...

First 1-2 Finish for Target Team in IndyCar Series

Nashville, TN, Saturday, July 15, 2006-- Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon combined to lead a total of 184 of the 200 lap race at Nashville Superspeedway to give the team their first 1-2 finish since joining the IndyCar Series in 2003. Dixon, who started third and led a total of 69 laps, took the checkered flag under the lights on Saturday night on the 1.33 mile concrete oval for his second victory and the team's third race win of the 2006 season.

Dixon took control of the race on lap 133 when the top four cars, including race leader and pole sitter Wheldon, pitted for a splash of fuel. The no. 9 Target car didn't need it after being more fuel efficient in traffic for the first half of the race and held onto the lead for the final 66 laps, holding off a hard-charging Target teammate to claim his first victory on an oval since Nazareth in 2003.

"It's been a long time," said Dixon whose last two wins have come on the road course at Watrkins Glen and now boasts six IndyCar career victories. "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."

Wheldon, who started first and has two consecutive pole positions to his credit, led the most laps with 115 and set the fastest lap of the race with 14 to go with a speed of 202.246 mph. The second place finish in the Firestone Indy 200 is his best career result at Nashville.

"It is a fantastic evening for Target Chip Ganassi Racing and everyone involved," said Wheldon who posted his sixth top-five finish of the season. "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."

All season long, the Target duo has battled closely with the Penske team's Helio Castroneves and points leader Sam Hornish, Jr. and based on the results in the Nashville race the championship race just got a lot closer.

Hornish, who started on the outside of the front row next to Wheldon, got into the marbles and made contact with the wall while attempting to pass Panther Racing's Vitor Meira on a restart and was credited with a 14th place finish. Meira went on to finish third, while Danica Patrick tied her career best with a fourth place finish. Castroneves posted a fifth place finish after battling handling problems after early race contact with Dixon and Tony Kanaan.

The win in Nashville moves Dixon (311 points) into second place in the IndyCar Series point standing just five points in arrears of Hornish (316 points). Castroneves (310 points) drops one spot and while Wheldon (300 points) remains fourth in the Championship hunt, the defending IndyCar series champ made significant gains with his second place finish and is just 16 points behind the leader.

The victory marks the Target team's first win at Nashville, their third win of the season, a ninth victory in the IndyCar Series and their 49th in openwheel racing. It was the team's first 1-2 finish since joining the IndyCar Series in 2003. The previous one came on the street course at Denver in the Champ Car series in 2002 when Dixon finished second to Bruno Junqueira.

The Target team now prepares to take on the venerable Milwaukee Mile next weekend featuring another new Target livery for the no.10 Honda Dallara with a FUJI themed paint scheme. The ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Indy 225 will take place at 1:30 p.m. (EDT) on July 23 at The Milwaukee Mile. The race will be telecast live by ESPN and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPN Deportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 145 "IndyCar Racing" and www.indycar.com.

-cgr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Bruno Junqueira , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Chip Ganassi , A.J. Foyt , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing