Dixon Continues Nashville Hot Streak When you're hot, you're hot. Scott Dixon and his Target Chip Ganassi Racing team can apparently do no wrong at the moment, in the IndyCar Series, as a late-race miscommunication paid off in spades for ...
Dixon Continues Nashville Hot Streak
When you're hot, you're hot. Scott Dixon and his Target Chip Ganassi Racing team can apparently do no wrong at the moment, in the IndyCar Series, as a late-race miscommunication paid off in spades for driver and team when rain brought an early end to Saturday night's Firestone Indy 200 at Nashville Superspeedway.
Dixon and teammate Dan Wheldon were running second and seventh, respectively, when the yellow caution flag flew on Lap 138 as a sprinkle of rain rolled over the track. At the time, Tony Kanaan held a 3.5-second lead over Dixon and appeared headed for his second victory of the season.
Still under caution on Lap 140 and Kanaan led virtually the entire field into pit lane for a final fuel and tire stop. But the call from his team came too late for Dixon, who was past the pit lane entry point and had to stay on track, with Wheldon following suit.
The light rain quickly disappeared, and racing resumed on Lap 152. It looked as if the Ganassi drivers would be forced to pit under green flag conditions, when a much heavier rain shower arrived on the scene on Lap 166, and the race was red-flagged to a halt on Lap 171, 39 short of the scheduled 200-lap distance. The rain preserved the win for Dixon, his third in a row here at Nashville and a series-leading fourth this season, extending his lead in the championship standings to 63 points after 12 of 18 races.
It was another typically successful weekend for Honda, engine supplier for the full IndyCar Series, in the fourth of six consecutive race weekends. A total of 24 Honda-powered drivers ran 8,854 miles of practice, qualifying and racing this weekend without a major failure. So far in 2008, IndyCar drivers have run 161,125 miles with just one recorded failure -- on the Vision Racing car of Davey Hamilton during practice leading up to the Indianapolis 500.
If Dixon was the big winner tonight, Kanaan was the biggest loser. The Andretti Green Racing driver led a race-high 59 laps and appeared in control of the contest under green flag conditions. But the shuffle during the final pit stops and an opportunistic pass by Helio Castroneves to snatch third on the restart dropped Kanaan to a fourth-place finish.
Vitor Meira was another to suffer at the hand of fate, as a problem with fuel coupling in last stop dropped the Panther Racing driver from a strong third to a disappointed sixth, just behind Danica Patrick. Buddy Rice posted his second-consecutive top-10 finish in seventh, followed by Vision Racing's Ed Carpenter. Darren Manning also posted a second top-10 result for A.J. Foyt Racing in ninth. Rookie Mario Moraes followed up his career-high seventh last week at Watkins Glen with 10th tonight.
Scott Dixon (#9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) Started 5th, finished 1st, 3rd consecutive Nashvile victory, 4th IndyCar win of 2008, 14th career win; 100th major race victory for Chip Ganassi Racing: "This is three guitars [the first place trophy is a commemorative Gibson guitar]. Man, I'm pretty impressed. Tonight I don't think we had the best car but the luck is going our way, and I feel for Tony [Kanaan]. We were fast by ourselves, but 'TK' was definitely stronger in traffic. On the last caution, it was actually a bit of miscommunication. By the time they called me in [to pit], I was already way past the pit entry. It wasn't looking pretty for us until the rains came back. It wasn't pretty, but we'll take it."
Tony Kanaan (#11 Andretti Green Racing Honda) Started 7th, finished 4th: "I support my team 100 percent. It was the right call to come in on lap 148, and a lot of people followed our lead [into the pits]. Who can predict the rain? Unfortunately, the rain and I don't get along too well. But we have great momentum and the guys at the front know we are coming. I'll take fourth place today. When it is your year, it is your year. You have to get a little lucky to win the championship and I had my share of the luck in 2004."
Roger Griffiths (Race Team Technical Leader, Honda Performance Development) on tonight's race: "That's four down and two to go in this string of consecutive race weekends. It's a shame for the fans that the rain ended tonight's race early, but it certainly played to the advantage of Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon. Congratulations to Chip Ganassi, Mike Hull, and the entire Target Ganassi organization on 100 race wins, the majority of them with Honda power, I believe. They have built up one of the top teams in motorsports over the years, and the results speak for themselves."