Scott Dixon runs off with Honda Indy 200
Penske Racing's Ryan Briscoe held off Dixon's teammate Dario Franchitti for 2nd and Ryan Hunter-Reay drove an excellent race for AJ Foyt to finish 4th ahead of Heideki Mutoh in his AGR machine.
Polesitter Briscoe led early but Justin Wilson driving for Dale Coyne eventually muscled past on lap 6.
The Englishman made the best of his lead position pulling away at nearly a second per lap building a strong lead over second place and the rest of the field. It would turn out to be Scott Dixon, who was running in third but was conserving fuel, who would get the upper hand on the first round of pit stops.
Wilson pitted on Lap 28 while Dixon was able to go an additional three laps. That strategy gave Dixon the track position advantage he needed to be right behind Wilson after they had pitted. Dixon also had a strong running car and would pass Wilson to take the lead on Lap 37. Dixon would dominate the rest of the race to eventually come home the winner.
Wilson was running second behind Dixon coming to his second and final pit stop. Wilson suffered heartbreak when the engine sputtered for fuel as he entered the pit for his final stop. The car made it to the pits but was weak on power. The seasoned Dale Coyne Racing team fueled the car quickly, but the engine was still not at full rich when Wilson launched from the pit only to have the engine stall and cost precious time and devastating track position.
Although Dixon still would have won, Wilson could have finished 2nd instead of 13th, but he did lead the 2nd most laps - 28 - so once again the Coyne team proves they are a force to be reckoned with.
"I think the Target car was fantastic from the get-go," said Dixon. "We had a fairly decent start. I think we could have had Justin (Wilson) there but didn't want to push the envelope too much. We were sitting behind (Ryan) Briscoe to save tons of gas and that allowed us to go a lap or two longer. I don't really think the pass on Justin (Wilson) had much to do with Milka (Duno). We pretty much made the pass going into the corner, and she made it kind of interesting in the next couple corners."
For AJ Foyt and his American driver Ryan Hunter-Reay, today's 4th place result was just what the doctor order for an otherwise trying year.
Some teams now begin preparations to test at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., later this week. The 2009 IndyCar Series season continues Aug. 23 with the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 5 p.m. (EDT) by VERSUS. A one-hour qualifying show will be telecast by VERSUS at 6 p.m. on Aug. 22. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 211.
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, finished third):"I was a little disappointed. We cannot get the Target car handling the way I want it to. When we do, I think we'll be really good because we're finishing third with the car not balanced at all the way I like it. If we get it the way we do on the street courses, look out. The guys did a great job on pit road and the Target team pulled a great strategy. Scotty D. did a great job today. We just have to regroup and come back a lot stronger in Sonoma."
HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 27 Formula Dream, finished fifth):At the beginning of the race we were saving the car, tires, fuel and I think we had a right time to have a yellow. When everybody pitted I had two more laps to go with my fuel so I really pushed hard there and I think I made a position there so the strategy was really good. The car was good so I'm looking forward to the next race.
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Meijer, finished sixth):"Not a bad day for the Meijer car. It was a long day, but I'm glad we were able to finish inside the top-ten. The goal is to make our way up in points; it'd be great if we're able to charge our way up to fifth and today put us closer to that goal.
PAUL TRACY (No. 5 Azul Tequila/Votorantim/KVRT, finished seventh):"First of all I want to thank Mario (Moraes). This was a pretty good result, and it is for him and his family. It was a good race for the Azul/Votorantim/KV Racing Technology team, and I want to thank the team for all their hard work. The car wasn't super quick and it wasn't slow. It was just a good solid race, and we earned solid points. Hopefully we moved the team up the pit lane a little bit."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 02 McDonald's Racing Team, finished eighth):"It's frustrating because the McDonald's team had a good weekend going and I just wanted to have just a normal race with no mistakes and if we did that I knew we would have a good result. I just couldn't do it. I hit the brakes and they instantly locked so before I even turned into the corner I was trying to figure out how to save it and just couldn't. The rear brakes just locked up and it happened instantly and I don't know exactly why it happened. It hadn't happened any other time going into that section but one lap out of 85 is enough though unfortunately. The whole time I thought I was being conservative and wasn't making any mistakes and that's what I was hoping for. I wanted a top-five finish here. I don't think we had a car that could win but I will say that we were close; the McDonald's car felt really good. It's a frustrating result for the McDonald's team because the car was quick all day. I got by Dario and that was good and then I thought I was going to have something for (third place) Briscoe but we didn't quite have enough for him. Later I had a shot at passing PT (Tracy) but I made the mistake of pushing Push to Pass too early so I couldn't use it down the back straight because you can't use it for 10 seconds after each time. I got up to fourth in the race but then made a mistake. It's a frustrating result."
RAPHAEL MATOS (No. 2 US Marines Luczo Dragon Racing, finished ninth):"It was a really good day for the team. We finished top 10 and took the lead in the Rookie of the Year championship. Qualifying made our life a little more difficult because it is so hard to pass here. I really had to time my push to pass well. The US Marines Luczo Dragon Team did a great job on the pit stops and that allowed me to pick up some positions. I got a little frustrated with lapped traffic. Milka (Duno) slowed me down and I lost two positions to Marco (Andretti) and Paul Tracy. I just got caught behind her in the last sector where it's impossible to pass, and that cost me six seconds and allowed those guys to make up time coming out of the pits. But overall, it was a good day for the team."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven, finished 10th):It was a tough race for sure, but we were able to move up in points."
Winner's average speed: 108.540 mph
Time of race: 1:46:05.7985
Margin of victory: 29.7803 seconds
Cautions: 2 caution flags for 6 laps
Lead changes: 5 among 3 drivers
Lap leaders: Briscoe 1-5, Wilson 6-28, Briscoe 29, Dixon 30-31, Wilson 32-36, Dixon 37-85.
Point standings: Dixon 460, Briscoe 457, Franchitti 440, Castroneves 359, Patrick 321, Andretti 307, Kanaan 294, Rahal 289, Wheldon 288, Wilson 270.
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