Dixon both lucky and good at Nashville Superspeedway

Dixon both lucky and good at Nashville Superspeedway

Posted: Monday, July 14, 2008 9:37 pm
By: AP

By TERESA M. WALKER AP Sports Writer GLADEVILLE (AP) — If Scott Dixon keeps having this kind of luck, he won’t have to worry about how much gas he has left at the end of this season. The man who lost the 2007 IndyCar Series season title to Dario Franchitti because he ran out of gas on the final lap of the last race last season won his fourth race this year and padded his points lead despite some miscommunication that kept him from following leader Tony Kanaan into the pits. Dixon took over the lead and had enough fuel to stay there when officials red-flagged the Firestone Indy 200 with 29 laps left, giving him his third straight win at the Nashville Superspeedway. “You have a little bit of luck go your way,” Dixon said. “It just worked out that way. Man, I don’t know what it is.” Dixon now has won at Homestead, Indianapolis, Texas and Nashville, padding his lead in the season points race to 68 from 43. Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Dan Wheldon, who purposely gambled on stretching his fuel and finished second, said Dixon is definitely on a roll like the one he enjoyed while winning the season title in 2005. “I think when you’re on that roll, like it was a mistake for him to stay out obviously, and he won. He’s very deserving. He works hard. He’s on his game. Anytime he gets in the car, he seems to be quick. It seems to be working for him. You know, that’s good for him,” Wheldon said. It’s the 14th career victory for Dixon and also the 100th overall in motorsports for Chip Ganassi Racing, the 62nd in open-wheel racing. Helio Castroneves, who started on the pole, finished third followed by Kanaan and Danica Patrick. Not bad after poor timing as the drivers were preparing for a restart. “I was on the higher side in Turn 4. They came on the radio and said, ‘All right, follow T.K. If he stays out, stay out. If he pits, pit.’ And that was just as I was going by the pit entry. You know I was too high to try and pull the car down. I think I would have spun out. … It doesn’t happen too often,” Dixon said. “It worked out fantastic. I’m bloody happy for the championship to be honest.” But coming only a week after Dixon spun out under yellow and cost himself a victory at Watkins Glen, the miscommunication could have been costly. Not on this night, not with IRL officials anxiously tracking heavy rain on the radar. This was the sixth straight week of racing, and nobody wanted to return Sunday to race as they had to a year ago when rain washed this event out. Everyone breathed a little easier once the race was official with 101 laps in, but kept an eye on the radar while trying to either stretch fuel or make one last pit for fuel. That’s what Kanaan did on lap 148. “It was the right call to come in on Lap 148. Who can predict the rain? Unfortunately, the rain and I don’t get along too well,” said Kanaan, who missed winning for the second time in three weeks. Patrick was among those hoping the rain would hold off long enough for Dixon and Wheldon to pit for more fuel. Dixon estimated he had enough fuel to run another 15 laps. “From that perspective, it is tough,” Patrick said. “But that is a gamble that they took, and it worked out in their favor.” Castroneves, still in second in the points race despite not having a win this year, agreed that the risk paid off. “We did everything we could, and third-place is not bad. We’re still in the championship hunt. We’re going to keep working hard,” Castroneves said. But for Dixon, this victory meant much more coming a week after he spun out under yellow and missed a chance at winning Watkins Glen. He finished 11th there, missing a chance to pad his lead over Castroneves. “I’d like to keep winning more so everyone would forget about that,” Dixon said. Published in The Messenger 7.14.08

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