Series news and notes 2009-04-27

Today's IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines * Kanaan takes points lead, Dixon vaults from 17th to fourth * RLR/Andersen back on top of point standings * Battistini discharged * Public to vote for Firestone "Tire"-rific move of the...

Today's IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines
* Kanaan takes points lead, Dixon vaults from 17th to fourth
* RLR/Andersen back on top of point standings
* Battistini discharged
* Public to vote for Firestone "Tire"-rific move of the race
* Drivers reap post-race awards

1. Kanaan takes points lead, Dixon vaults from 17th to fourth: Three races, three winners -- and the new IndyCar Series points leader heading into the Indianapolis 500 isn't one of them. Scott Dixon, winner of the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 April 26 at Kansas Speedway, called it back in November when he was still deciding where to display his second IndyCar Series championship trophy. The 2009 season would be the most competitive ever.

Dixon, who got off to a rough start with disappointing results on the streets of St. Petersburg (16th) and Long Beach (15th) vaulted from 17th to fourth in the standings with his first victory in seven attempts at Kansas Speedway. The new points leader, Tony Kanaan, is the only driver to finish in the top five in each of the first three races.

Four teams are represented in the top five of the standings -- paced by Andretti Green Racing's Kanaan -- and six in the top 10. Nineteen drivers have posted top-10 finishes. Kanaan holds a one-point lead over Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe, the winner at St. Petersburg, and a four-point lead over Dixon's teammate Dario Franchitti, the winner at Long Beach.

"You've got to come out of the box fighting, you've got to be strong, you've got to be consistent," Dixon said. "I think that shows with (Kanaan) taking the points lead. He's been in the top five every race we've gone to, but still hasn't won.

"Consistency's definitely the key. You have to come out with your A game. That's what makes this championship so tough to win. You've got so many great competitors. You've got big teams, fantastic drivers. It's getting tougher each year."

Dixon heads into the May 6 opening of practice for the Indianapolis 500 as the defending champion, and with a renewed spirit after the 0.7104 of a second victory of Team Penske's Helio Castroneves, who charged from his 21st starting position.

"This is a big boost for my confidence, the team's confidence, and a lot of momentum going into the Month of May, which is our biggest race," he said.

Kanaan, with a third place at Kansas, was followed by teammates Danica Patrick (fifth), Marco Andretti (sixth) and Hideki Mutoh (eighth) -- the first time four AGR cars finished in the top 10 since Milwaukee in '06. It was the second race in a row for top 10s from Kanaan, Patrick and Andretti.

"We're just really working hard towards what we need to do," said the 2004 series champion. "Great momentum. But we have to turn the page and go to Indy. I think it makes us feel good that we had good races, but that doesn't mean anything. We're going to start from zero from now on."

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2. RLR/Andersen back on top of point standings: RLR/Andersen Racing finds itself in familiar territory after four races in the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights championship.

The team, which scored its first victory in the series a year ago, finds itself leading the point standings with rookie Jonathan Summerton as the series heads to Indianapolis for its biggest race, the Firestone Freedom 100. Summerton holds a four-point advantage over Junior Strous. Last year, RLR/Andersen's J.R. Hildebrand had a three-point lead after the race at Kansas.

"It was a great day for RLR/Andersen Racing," team co-owner John Andersen said after the Kansas Lottery 100. "We had two kids who never drove on an oval before, but both had outstanding runs."

Summerton is one of two drivers to post top-10 finishes in each of the first four races (Daniel Herrington of Bryan Herta Autosport is the other). The 21-year-old drew praise from his team for making the most of a car that wasn't a contender when it began the 100-mile race.

"At the beginning of the race, Jonathan's car was loose, but we adjusted it and towards the end he was as fast as the leaders," Andersen said. "If there weren't so many yellows, he would have been right there at the end, too. As it was he took the points lead. We're really happy."

Romancini was competitive from the start with the Brazilian running among the leaders despite the numerous cautions in the beginning of the race. His late-race pass of Ana Beatriz for second was rewarded with his first visit to the podium.

"I'm very happy with my first oval race," he said. "Every lap I'm still learning. Once I got loose between Turns 3 and 4 and I thought I was done, but I was able to save it. I'm very happy with the car and with RLR/Andersen Racing; they did a fantastic job."

Added Andersen: "Mario drove a great race, and got his first podium. We're real happy for him. He did an outstanding job.

***

3. Battistini discharged: Firestone Indy Lights driver Dillon Battistini was discharged from the KU Medical Center. Battistini was transported to the facility following a crash with Pippa Mann on Lap 59 of Sunday's Kansas Lottery 100. He was kept overnight for observation after all preliminary tests were negative.

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4. Public to vote for Firestone "Tire"-rific move of the race: Fans will have the ultimate say in who receives a $10,000 race bonus from Firestone each week. After each IndyCar Series race, Firestone executives pick three "Tire"-rific Moves of the Race, on-track moves where the drivers had to rely on their Firestone Firehawk tires. Fans can vote for the winner at www.indycar.com.

From the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300, fans can choose from:

* Scott Dixon for his impressive margin of victory.

* Helio Castroneves, for working his way to the front of the field twice and improving from 21st to second.

* Dan Wheldon for fearlessly working the high side of the track.

The winner from the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach was Danica Patrick, who charged from 22nd to fourth.

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5. Drivers reap post-race awards: Scott Dixon collected an IndyCar Series timepiece from Ritmo Mundo, the official timepiece of the IndyCar Series, for winning the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300. Ritmo Mundo presents a timepiece valued at $1,000 to the winner of each IndyCar Series event. Dixon also collected the $1,000 Bosch Award.

Graham Rahal won the PEAK Performance Pole Award and its $10,000 prize, and Ed Carpenter collected $2,000 from Xtrac.

***

The 2009 IndyCar Series season continues May 24 with the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. 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 May 22 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast May 22 by VERSUS as part of its Carb Day coverage from 11 a.m. -- 4 p.m. (EDT).

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Graham Rahal , Dan Wheldon , Ryan Briscoe , Marco Andretti , Pippa Mann , Daniel Herrington , Junior Strous , Jonathan Summerton , J.R. Hildebrand , Hideki Mutoh , Ana Beatriz , Dillon Battistini , Danica Patrick , Ed Carpenter
Teams Team Penske , Bryan Herta Autosport