IRL: Nashville: Honda race report

Dixon Doubles Up In Nashville Defending race winner Scott Dixon dominated the second half of Sunday's rain-delayed Firestone Indy 200 at Nashville Super Speedway, repelling challenges from championship leader Dario Franchitti to score his ...

Dixon Doubles Up In Nashville

Defending race winner Scott Dixon dominated the second half of Sunday's rain-delayed Firestone Indy 200 at Nashville Super Speedway, repelling challenges from championship leader Dario Franchitti to score his second consecutive Nashville race victory. It also was Dixon's second IndyCar Series victory in as many weeks, as the Target Chip Ganassi driver repeated his 2006 victory on the Watkins Glen road course in New York last Sunday.

Passing early leader Franchitti in heavy lapped traffic on Lap 89, Dixon and teammate Dan Wheldon briefly traded the top spot before Dixon established his dominance. From Lap 95 onward, except for pit stops, Dixon was in command on the 1.33-mile concrete-paved Nashville oval.

Starting on outside of the front row in second, Franchitti moved around pole qualifier Dixon on the high side exiting Turn 2 on the opening lap. The Andretti Green Racing driver went on to lead 88 laps, but was unable to deal as effectively with lapped traffic as Dixon. Well clear of the rest of the field, Franchitti settled for a second-place finish and continues to lead the IndyCar title fight, now with a 34-point lead over Dixon after 11 of 17 races.

Traffic played a significant role in the outcome of several individual battles as well. Danica Patrick used lap cars to get past both Marco Andretti and Scott Sharp to finish third, equalling her best previous IndyCar result. Sam Hornish Jr. recovered from a difficult race start to finish fourth, with Marco Andretti fifth in his best oval track result this season.

Scott Sharp appeared headed for a top-six finish, but was forced high on a late-race restart and slipped back to seventh, just behind the Team Penske entry of Helio Castroneves. Dan Wheldon faded to eighth as he struggled with handling in the late stages of Sunday's 200-lap contest. Darren Manning finished ninth, the final car on the lead lap, in the best oval track result for the A.J. Foyt Racing team this season.

The race was originally scheduled for Saturday night, but was delayed when a line of storms moved through the Speedway area just before the scheduled green flag. It was the first IndyCar Series race postponed by rain since Texas in 2000.

It was another weekend of 100 per cent reliability for the Honda Indy V-8 engine, as the IndyCar Series completed the fourth of five consecutive races in a swing through the Midwest and East Coast, with the 18-car Honda-powered field recording 7,242 miles of trouble free practice, qualifying and race miles. Slowed by only three yellows, Dixon completed the 200-lap event at a record pace of 164.030 miles per hour.

Next week, the IndyCar Series travels back to a road circuit, the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, for the Honda Indy 200.

Scott Dixon (#9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) Started 1st, finished 1st, second consecutive victory in 2007, eighth career IndyCar victory: "This is just what we needed for the championship fight, we've closed the gap a bit on Dario [Franchitti] for the second week in a row. Our car was very, very consistent throughout the race and I think a lot of the other guys lost a bit as the race went on. It looked like they were getting loose and we were able to run the same lap times all day long. This is a big, big day for the entire Ganassi team. Early on, I thought my teammate Dan [Wheldon] would be right there with us to the end, but it didn't work out that way. Now it's on to Mid-Ohio where both our team and Dario's tested well, so it should be another very competitive weekend."

Dario Franchitti (#27 Andretti Green Racing Honda) Started 2nd, finished 2nd , holds a 34-point lead in the IndyCar Series championship points standings: "The race started well for us. We had a bit of understeer in the car but nothing too dramatic. Then we got checked-up in lapped traffic and both Dan [Wheldon] and Scott [Dixon] got by me. With the championship standings as they are now, I couldn't afford to take too many chances in traffic. I've seen too many guys try the high line, get up in the grey and then hit the wall here. I had trouble in traffic most of the day -- even the lapped cars that didn't make it difficult for me were hard to pass! But it was another top three finish for us, and now we go on to Mid-Ohio where we were quite strong in testing earlier this year."

Roger Griffiths (Race Team Technical Leader, Honda Performance Development) on today's race: "We're very pleased with the performance and reliability of the Honda engine again this weekend, with another 7,242 trouble-free miles recorded. The engine has proven to be very flexible, running well at both the Watkins Glen road course last week and the oval here at Nashville. It's a shame the rain last night delayed things, but today's race showed that the championship is shaping up to be a great battle between Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti. We still have three road courses yet to run in the championship, and they could be the deciding factor."

-credit: honda racing

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Darren Manning , Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Dan Wheldon , Marco Andretti , Chip Ganassi , A.J. Foyt , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing