26 April 2009
Dixon opens '09 win account at Kansas.
With tornados contuining to be reported in the area, reigning IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon produced a whirlwind performance to claim his first victory of 2009 in the Road Runner Turbo 300 at Kansas Speedway.
The Target Chip Ganassi driver made the most of his decent qualifying position to steer clear of incidents at the 1.5-mile oval and take the chequered flag 0.7104secs ahead of Helio Castroneves, who came from the very back to claim the runner-up spot.
Dixon's win was the third in a row at the track for a Ganassi driver, following on from back-to-back successes for former team-mate Dan Wheldon, and helps give the Kiwi a vital leg-up in the points after two tough street course outings in St Petersburg and Long Beach.
He entered the race only 17th in the standings, but the return to a short oval clearly suited him well. After starting fourth, Dixon passed polesitter Graham Rahal on lap eight and went on to lead 134 of the 200 scheduled laps before claiming his 17th career IndyCar victory.
The New Zealander did require a little luck, however, and caught the upside of a lap 153 caution caused by Ganassi team-mate Dario Franchitti making contact with the T3 SAFER Barrier, but the win - his first since Kentucky 2008 - moved him to fourth in the standings as he prepares to defend his Indianapolis 500 crown.
"I think we were expecting the race to be a lot more difficult as far as the wind conditions in turns three and four were concered - and maybe expected more cautions," Dixon remarked, "Our team was definitely talking about a lot of cautions and making sure we saved fuel.
"All-in-all, it was a pretty smooth race. We had a great car, jumped straight to second then, about ten laps later, got Graham when he slid up the track a bit in three and four. We got out front and started saving fuel.
"The Target car was really good all day, although we had a bit of a fumble in the pits, which dropped us back to third at one point and made it quite difficult to get past [Ryan] Briscoe. But I think we were trimmed to win, as they say. The car was maybe not as good as it should have been in traffic but, luckily enough, we were saving enough fuel and caught the caution that catapulted us to the front."
Castroneves, meanwhile, nearly duplicated his back-to-front victory from last September at Chicagoland. In that race, the Brazilian won after starting 28th and, this time, he worked his way up from 21st to second. The Brazilian, however, had to survive contact with Vitor Meira early on that could easily have damaged his Penske entry.
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