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Kanaan lead confirms Dixon's 'most competitive' claim

Three races, three winners, and the new IndyCar Series points leader heading into the Indianapolis 500 isn't one of them, confirming the belief that the 2009 IRL campaign could be the closest yet.

Scott Dixon, winner of the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway over the weekend, made just such a call back in November - when he was still deciding where to display his second IndyCar Series championship trophy - and the Kiwi still finds himself playing catch up despite making it to winners' circle on Sunday.

Dixon, who got off to a rough start with disappointing results on the streets of St Petersburg and Long Beach, vaulted from 17th to fourth in the standings with his first victory in seven attempts at Kansas, but continues to trail new - and third different - points leader, Tony Kanaan, after the Brazilian continued a run that made him the only driver to finish in the top five in each of the first three races.

“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 - and it's getting tougher each year.”

Four teams are represented in the top five of the standings – paced by Andretti Green Racing's #11 – and six in the top ten. Some 19 drivers have posted top ten finishes, while 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 Target Chip Ganassi team-mate Dario Franchitti, the winner at, and points leader after, Long Beach.

The Kiwi, however, heads into the opening day of practice for the Indianapolis 500 next Wednesday not only as defending 500 champion, but with renewed spirit after the 0.7104secs victory over Penske's Helio Castroneves on Sunday.

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

Kanaan's third place in Kansas was followed by fifth, sixth and eighth respectively for team-mates Danica Patrick, Marco Andretti and Hideki Mutoh, marking the first time four Andretti Green cars finished in the top ten since Milwaukee in 2006. It was the second race in a row, however, where Kanaan, Patrick and Andretti finished in the top ten, underlining AGR's threat for Indianapolis after a 2008 campaign in which the team seemed at odds with itself.

“We're just really working hard towards what we need to do,” 2004 series champion Kanaan confirmed, “It's 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.”

Related Pictures

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Indy Racing League.  25-26 April 2009. Kansas Speedway, Kansas, Missouri USA. Tony Kanaan.
Alexander Rossi - Andretti Autosport   [pic credit: Indycar Media/Joe Skibinski]
Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) on his way to victory at Watkins Glen   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Owens]
Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) on his way to pole at Watkins Glen   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Owens]
Scott Dixon leads the Indycar field   [pic credit: Indycar media/Bret Kelley]
Scott Dixon - Target Chip Ganassi Racing   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/JOE SKIBINSKI]
Carlos Munoz celebrates his first IndyCar pole at Texas Motor Speedway
Alexander Rossi - Andretti Autosport
Alexander Rossi - Andretti Autosport [credit: Walter Kuhn]
Marco Andretti - Andretti Autosport [credit: Chris Owens]
Ryan Hunter-Reay - Andretti Autosport   [pic credit: IndyCar media/Chris Jones]
Marco Andretti - Andretti Autosport   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Joe Skibinski]
Max Chilton, Chip Ganassi, [Credit: Max Chilton PR]
Scott Dixon - Chip Ganassi [credit: IndyCar Series]
Scott Dixon - Chip Ganassi [credit: IndyCar Series]
Alexander Rossi - Andretti Autosport   [pic credit: Tim Holle/IndyCar Media]
Alexander Rossi - Andretti Autosport   [pic credit: Chris Jones/IndyCar Media]
Scott Dixon sprays the champagne in Victory Circle following his win in the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)

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