Dixon dominates in Kansas
Dixon held off teammate Dario Franchitti over the final six laps after a restart in the first oval race of the season. Andretti Autosport's Tony Kanaan improved 11 positions to finish third and Helio Castroneves was fourth.
Ryan Hunter-Reay, driving the No. 37 IZOD car for Andretti Autosport, moved up 17 spots from his starting position to finish fifth. Pole sitter Ryan Briscoe in the No. 6 Team Penske car finished sixth and Alex Tagliani was seventh in the No. 77 FAZZT Race Team entry.
Mario Moraes placed seventh, Takuma Sato 24th and E.J. Viso 27 in results sheet, but the three KVRT drivers put on quite a show in the 200-lap contest on the 1.5 tri-oval west of Kansas City in the fifth round of the 17-race IZOD IndyCar Series.
All three drove their way to the front of the field Saturday and looked in position to score top-five finishes. Unfortunately, two of the drivers had to watch the finish from the pit lane. But the performances by Moraes, Sato and Viso gave the team a solid foundation leading into the biggest race of the year, the Indianapolis 500, on May 30. Former open-wheel champion Paul Tracy also joins the team at Indy.
On the restart from the third caution, there were many lapped cars in the lead pack. Mutoh was in fifth place behind Kanaan and Kanaan, Mutoh and Sato were nose-to-tail on the restart. They approached the lapped car of Simona de Silvestro, who was in the middle of the track. Kanaan got past de Silvestro and Mutoh went alongside her on the high side of the track and then Sato put the nose of his car between Mutoh and the outside track wall. There wasn’t enough room for Sato’s car as de Silvestro pushed both up the track and Sato’s left front tire hit Hideki’s right rear tire and the two made contact with the wall and brought out the fourth and final caution of the race.
This is the 22nd career IZOD IndyCar Series victory for Scott Dixon. His most recent victory came in 2009 at Motegi. Dixon had made six consecutive starts without a victory before today.
This is Target Chip Ganassi Racing fourth consecutive race at Kansas Speedway. Dan Wheldon won in 2007-2008. Scott Dixon has won the last two races here at Kansas Speedway.
Today was the seventh 1-2 finish for Target Chip Ganassi Racing in the IZOD IndyCar Series. It is the third time that Dixon and Franchitti have finished 1-2 since the start of 2009 season.
There were six different teams represented in the top-10 finishers in today's race.
Turner Gill, new head football coach at the University of Kansas, received a ride on the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway oval in the Indy Racing Experience two-seater.
"You could really feel the G forces," said Gill, who was the grand marshal of the IZOD IndyCar Series race at Watkins Glen International last July while he was coach at the University of Buffalo. "It was thrilling. I felt like I was in a football game."
The Conquest Racing crew for #34 Mario Romancini was at Kansas Speedway until early this morning preparing the backup car for today's race. Ironically, the backup car is the same car that his teammate Bertrand Baguette has used on the road/street courses. Baguette's car is the chassis that Romancini used on road and street courses.
ROAD RUNNER TURBO INDY 300 POST-RACE QUOTES:
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, winner Road Runner Turbo Indy 300): "It's was huge. Winning at Kansas going into the month of May is a big deal. Team Target has had a slow start to the season, but this is what we need and jump back into points table. It's certainly good to get that momentum going to Indy."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Suave, finished second): "After the first pit stop, it looked like Ryan, Scott and myself were pretty equal. Scott made a mistake, got loose and I got past him. And then Scott got back past me and towards the end of the stint, managed to get past Ryan. After that Scott and I were running 1-2 in formation. He was a little bit quicker than I was, especially toward the end of the stint. He was probably .2 or .3 mile-per-hour every lap. My balance was very good, but he was just quicker. It went on for a quite a while then Tony and I were very close on the restart as well. Then the yellow came out just as we finished pitting and that put tons of cars between Scott and myself. In fact Helio jumped us in that situation too. And then on the final restart, it was tough. The backmarkers, again just like Barber, it appears the race one or two or three laps down is more important than the lead lap race. They're running side-by-side, driving up into the grey, giving absolutely no room to have the race in the front of the pack so that was very frustrating. I think Helio, Tony and myself were trying to make the best of it and trying to jump each other. I got past Helio and then I could see Tony coming on pretty strong. The last few laps, the car was really oversteering but I kept it flat and managed to jump him. I think second was a fair result for us.
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven, finished third): "I have to thank the whole 7-Eleven crew for the great stops. It was a great race. We did what we could. We definitely didn't have the fastest car out there so we tried to maximize the result. Qualifying really doesn't matter at this place. I hope the fans enjoyed it. I want to thank them for coming and it's a good way to lead into Indianapolis.
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske, finished fourth): "It was a good start for us on the ovals. We ran clean, we ran strong and we ran inside the top-five most of the day. We lost a couple of positions at the end there, but there was so much traffic and the car really changed. It's pretty tough out there. You can't blink or you might lose your spot. We were able to get into a good rhythm today and I think we created some good momentum for the month of May. At the end of the day, it was a positive result for Team Penske."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 37 Team IZOD, finished fifth): "It was a fight out there, for sure. It was really, really tough. The IZOD guys did a great job on the stops. We had a car that was manageable, but it was a little loose. I almost lost it out there a couple times, but almost doesn't count. We brought it home and this was good for the championship. Now, we just need to go get the funding to go past Indy."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, finished sixth): "We had a bit of a tough day out there today. We got out of sequence when we lost a wheel and that left us short a set of sticker tires. It was an exciting race and we probably passed more cars than anyone else out there. Considering the day we had, I feel pretty good that we were able to finish on the lead lap and bring home a top-six finish with the No. 6 Team Penske car. Hopefully we can learn from today and go into the Indianapolis 500 in good shape."
MARIO MORAES (No. 32 KV Racing Technology, finished seventh): "We had a problem in qualifying that hurts us. We tried to fix it for the race, but maybe it wasn't enough. The car ran pretty good though. The setup wasn't the best for today. Now, we have to work harder to get ready for the Indy 500. We also had some problems with our pit stops today. Overall, I thought we could have had a better placing. So there are some things we can work on for Indy."
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 77 FAZZT Race Team, finished eighth): "I think this weekend the FAZZT Race Team has shown that we can be competitive on the oval and that is where we want to be and I think it looks good for us heading into Indianapolis. It's very motivating for everyone on the team to have a good result here at our first oval event. Our race today was a good one but we realized early in the race that we weren't great on the restarts because of the gearing so with full fuel tanks it was a little difficult to follow the pace. But the team gave me such a good car and such a consistent car for the long runs that we were able to stay with the leaders. The Firestone tires were great today and the whole stint long the car was very consistent and we were able to make up ground. Towards the end we were fighting for position and it was better and easier for me to stay with the quick cars and we were good on fuel so everything worked really well. I'm very happy that we are going to leave here with the car in one piece and with our evaluation on the oval done. We are definitely proud of what we are doing and I'm amazingly proud of the boys and the job they have done preparing this car. We're very motivated and looking forward to getting prepared for the Indianapolis 500."
JOHN ANDRETTI, (No 43 TEAM Window World, finished ninth): "I can't be disappointed with this. I felt if we finished in the top 10, that would be better than I could expect and we finished ninth. We ran up there, we ran good and we ran good on the long runs. Like everybody, I think we wish (Scott) Dixon hadn't caught it quite so good because then we could have finished a little better, but I'm pleased. We weren't perfect, but it was good for me. I had a good time."
VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing): "We needed a little more grip towards the end of the run but on the short run, the car was awesome fast and I was able to keep up with anyone. It was just a problem with the older tires. But the ABC Supply/AJ Foyt team has put us in a good position going into Indy. Ovals are intense, after all these months being out of the car and not racing ovals continuously, ovals are intense! I'm glad to be back and I like this feeling."
DANICA PATRICK, (No. 7 TEAM GoDaddy.com, finished 11th) "Today was really disappointing because I think the GoDaddy car was actually pretty strong. I really wanted to enjoy a great run today, but it just didn't happen for us."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske finished 12th): "I had a busy day out there in the Verizon car. The first stop I went a touch long in the pit box which cost us some time. The car felt pretty good all day. The restarts were interesting and I definitely have a better idea of who I can work with out there. Overall, I'm glad we ran as well as we did and I'm feeling good going into Indy."
MARCO ANDRETTI, (No. 26 Team Venom Energy): "I think the theme of the day was salvage. The positive is that we gained 13 positions from start to finish and on a normal day that's great. But, when you're starting at the back of the pack it takes more than that. We're still missing something in the Venom car, so we'll just have to take what we learned this weekend and move forward. We'll refocus now on winning the big one at the end of the month."
JAY HOWARD (No. 66 Service Central/Sarah Fisher Racing): "First of all, I would like to thank Service Central for all that they have done for us. I just wish I could have given them a better result this weekend. As a team, we showed that we had speed, but we just need to work on consistency throughout the race. The month of May is a long month, so we're going to take what we learned here on to Indy, and go from there."
SARAH FISHER (No. 67 Dollar General/Sarah Fisher Racing): "It was a long first day back today. The car didn't really handle how we wanted it to in traffic, nor by itself, but we have some really good ideas about things we learned last year in Homestead that didn't work on the chassis that we ran there, but should work for this one going into Indy. We had great pit stops today; the guys all worked really well together, even after changing some crew positions so that the 66 car could share some of our guys. The 67 car did a really good job today, so I was very happy with that. We've just got to do our homework a little bit better on front mechanical grip, but we'll get there."
MARIO ROMANCINI (No. 34 Conquest Racing): "The guys did a good job of building up the car overnight. Unfortunately it was a road course car, and we didn't have time before the race to practice and make changes. We tried to tune the car during the race, but the setup wasn't great. In the end I just did what I could to bring the car home."
BERTRAND BAGUETTE (No. 36 Conquest Racing/RACB): "I am very happy with the pace we had during the race. Unfortunately I made a few mistakes in the pits. I think that without those mistakes we could have easily finished 15th, which is a good point for the Indianapolis 500 next month."
RAPHAEL MATOS (No. 2 HP Luczo Dragon): " It was a very difficult day, just one of those days. We thought the car would be more competitive today, but it just wasn't there. The conditions were difficult, especially with the wind in the beginning, but it did get better. The car had a certain behavior in the beginning of the race and even though I was able to adjust some things in the cockpit it never was right. I had many close calls, many moments, but I was focused on bringing the car home. That was very important because we haven't finished here before and we had to have two perfect cars heading to Indy."
E.J. VISO (No. 8 PDVSA KV Racing Technology): "We were running very fast today. The car was very good to drive. I could go almost anywhere on the track. We went from 16th to fifth. I made a mistake for speeding in the pit lane and had a drive through penalty. But I came back and was able to get by other cars again. Unfortunately, I tried to get around (Rafael) Matos in turn one and got into the loose stuff near the wall. The car slid up into the barrier. The contact broke the front suspension. I feel very badly for the team and sponsors because our No. 8 PDVSA KV Racing Technology car was extremely fast today. Overall, I think we shown that our team has good oval setups and we are anxious to get to Indianapolis now."
HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 06 Formula Dream/Panasonic): "Taku (Takuma Sato) was on the outside but in the last turn a car was also on the inside and it came up (on the track) so there was nowhere to go. This is very unfortunate because we had a very good race up to that point, and I didn't want to crash Taku because I respect him a lot. The next race is Indy so now I will put it out of my mind and try to race up front again. I think the Formula Dream / Panasonic team could have had a fourth place result. Top three would have been difficult but fourth place was possible. It's is a shame we ended the race early."
TAKUMA SATO (No. 5 Lotus-KV Racing Technology): "Today was a very exciting day for me being my first race oval race. I was running in sixth place with 14 laps to go when a yellow flag came out. There was a pack in front on the restart while I was racing Hideki (Mutoh) side-by-side. It looked like he was pushing up to the wall and I had nowhere to go. After having a conversation with Hideki, he was being pushed up into me by the lapped orange car. We both had nowhere to go. It's very, very unfortunate. I feel bad for the fans, particularly for all of the Japanese fans and all of Hideki's fans. The KV Racing Technology Lotus Team did a fantastic job. It's just frustrating and I'm very disappointed not to finish. However I really enjoyed racing with many great drivers and gaining a lot of positions as well as understanding how oval racing works."
The next IZOD IndyCar Series race is the 2010 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on Sunday, May 30 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be televised live by ABC at noon. The next Firestone Indy Lights race is the Firestone Freedom 100 on Friday, May 28 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It's will be broadcast live by VERSUS as part of its coverage of Miller Lite Carb Day.
Time of Race: 1:50:43.1410
Winner's average speed: 164.741
Margin of victory: 3.0528 seconds
Cautions: 4 for 33 laps
Lead changes: 3 among 3 drivers
Lap Leaders: Briscoe 1-31, Dixon 32-48, Franchitti 49-50, Dixon 51-200
Point Standings: Power 190, Dixon 164, Castroneves 162, Hunter-Reay 159, Franchitti 152, Wilson 137, Briscoe 132, Kanaan 129, Meira 101, Matos 98.
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