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After Fontana
Final Driver Standings

Rank Driver Points
1 Will Power 671
2 Helio Castroneves 609
3 Scott Dixon 604
4 Juan Pablo Montoya 586
5 Simon Pagenaud 565
6 Ryan Hunter-Reay 563
7 Tony Kanaan 544
8 Carlos Munoz 483
9 Marco Andretti 463
10 Sebastien Bourdais 461
11 Ryan Briscoe 461
12 James Hinchcliffe 456
13 Josef Newgarden 406
14 Charlie Kimball 402
15 Justin Wilson 395
16 Mikhail Aleshin 372
17 Jack Hawksworth 366
18 Takuma Sato 350
19 Graham Rahal 345
20 Carlos Huertas 314
21 Sebastian Saavedra 291
22 Ed Carpenter 262
23 Mike Conway 252
24 Oriol Servia 88
25 Kurt Busch 80
26 J.R. Hildebrand 66
27 Sage Karam 57
28 Luca Filippi 46
29 James Davison 34
30 Jacques Villeneuve 29
31 Alex Tagliani 28
32 Townsend Bell 22
33 Pippa Mann 21
34 Martin Plowman 18
35 Buddy Lazier 11
36 Franck Montagny 8
Castroneves runs dry as Dixon wins again

by Mark J. Cipolloni
Saturday, August 09, 2008

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Scott Dixon hoists yet another trophy
When you're hot you're hot and everything seems to fall your way.  Scott Dixon certainly is hot.  Helio Castroneves and his Penske crew gambled to stretching his fuel load but came up short by about 1/2-mile as his Honda engine coughed, starved for fuel, in turn 4 of the final lap as Scott Dixon swung high and beat Castroneves to the line by just 0.5532 seconds to win the Meijer 300 at Kentucky Speedway. 

As Castroneves' out of fuel Dallara coasted across the line, he beat Marco Andretti by 3 feet.

Marco Andretti, who led 38 laps, finished third, and Vitor Meira, who started second, finished fourth.

Vitor Meira and Dan Wheldon rounded out the top-5.

The dramatic finish was set up with 67 laps to go when Milka Duno crashed hard into the outside wall on the exit of Turn 2.  Everyone pitted but it would be difficult to make it all the way without another stop.  Leader Marco Andretti came into the pits first but Scott Dixon beat him off of pit lane because he had the final pitbox that gave him an advantage to accelerate and just beat Andretti to the pit exit line.

During the caution AJ Foyt IV retired with a gearbox problem, the third of the night.  This is most surprising for an oval track and underscores the poor quality of the current IndyCar, which should be replaced sooner rather than later.

When the green flag flew, Andretti went to the front but he was burning a lot of fuel by running so hard, meaning his splash and go at the end would take a tick longer.  Meanwhile Dixon backed off to save fuel and Castroneves backed off even more, his plan was to not stop at all.

Dixon's splash and go at the end put him ahead of Andretti on the track but Castroneves took the lead after all of the leaders made their stops, gambling that he could soft pedal it to the finish line.

The gamble almost paid off.  Although he just missed the win he did finish second, which was better than he ran all day.

Quotes

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, first): “What a day. I think we tried to play it kind of safe and just be conservative. Even in traffic we really didn’t rush things. The car was fantastic. We didn’t have as much speed, actually, as we thought we did, especially in practice and qualifying. The car was super fast. We had a couple of guys that definitely sped up, with (Vitor) Meira and Marco (Andretti) toward the end, their cars were very fast. It was strategy in the end, it was crazy. There was no way we were going to catch him. He was half the track ahead of us. I knew our car was probably quicker than his, but not 20 miles per hour faster. It was nice to get it the way we did. I think about the run that Dario (Franchitti) had for the championship last season, and it’s nice to be able to be in that position after how we lost it last year.”

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske, second): “We took a chance. I can't believe how close we were. Coming out of the last turn, the fuel pressure went on and I started to lift. I was just a few hundred yards short. I have to thank (Tim) Cindric and Team Penske for the great strategy. We did not have the car, unfortunately, so I'm extremely happy with second.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Meijer, third): “We have got to start capitalizing on these cars that can win these races. (Scott) Dixon had a bit of speed on us, but I think we had a better car in traffic. It was between him and I to win this race, and I think it is just unfortunate.”

VITOR MEIRA (No. 4 Delphi National Guard, fourth): “Today was good. I think we were actually a little light at the beginning of the race, but we were ahead, so that actually offset it. Everyone did a good job, and we can’t complain. Everyone wanted to win, and we put ourselves into position to do that. It was a good finish, and this gives us momentum going into the next race and the rest of the season. We gained points, and we gained everything else, so we are happy that we had an overall good day even though we would have liked to see the win.”

DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Polaroid, fifth): “It was a very competitive race, and I am really happy for Scott Dixon and all the guys at Target Chip Ganassi. I was having trouble finding speed, and Tony (Kanaan) just wasn’t going to let me have it easy, but that’s good racing. I didn’t seem to quite have enough. It was a good race. We lost a lot of spots in the pits on that last one, and it is difficult to get them back. It seemed I had it going pretty good in the draft, but when I got outside I wasn’t quite quick enough. It was a competitive race, and it seemed like we rode pretty well, just a little bit short.”

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Menards/Vision Racing, sixth): “It was fun, clean racing out there tonight. I raced hard with Hideki (Mutoh) and TK (Tony Kanaan), (Dan) Wheldon and (Ryan) Hunter-Reay. I should be happier with a sixth-place finish than I am, but we came here really wanting to get on the podium or battle for a win. It was a good day, and we made up some ground on points. A couple of the other cars were a little quicker than me late in the race. We may have had a little too much downforce in the car late in the race when the track was in the shadows, but the Menards car was a really good car tonight. It's a good finish to get on an oval and score some points. How we'll just head go to Sonoma and Detroit and figure out how to do the same.”

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, seventh): “Team Penske did a great job today. We had a solid, consistent run and the car was handling very well. It was definitely fun out there; there was a lot of side-by-side racing and it really was quite exciting. I think we had a solid car, we just didn't quite have to speed to run in the top three or four. We would've liked a bit higher finish, but the important thing is we earned some valuable points out there and maintain our fifth-place standing in the championship.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven, eighth): “This was a difficult night for us, especially in the early stages of the race. My guys worked hard throughout the race to make the Team 7-Eleven car better, and we were able to get more and more competitive as the night went on.  Obviously an eighth-place finish was not what we were looking for, though.”
***
Results

Pos

Driver Start Pos Diff Gap Last Lap Status
1 Scott Dixon (9) 1 --.---- --.---- 200 Running
2 Helio Castroneves (3) 6 0.5532 0.5532 200 Running
3 Marco Andretti (26) 9 0.5707 0.0175 200 Running
4 Vitor Meira (4) 2 0.9102 0.3395 200 Running
5 Dan Wheldon (10) 3 2.1472 1.2370 200 Running
6 Ed Carpenter (20) 8 5.9531 3.8059 200 Running
7 Ryan Briscoe (6) 5 6.2271 0.2740 200 Running
8 Tony Kanaan (11) 7 7.0932 0.8661 200 Running
9 Ryan Hunter-Reay (17) 14 10.9526 3.8594 200 Running
10 Buddy Rice (15) 15 21.6858 10.7332 200 Running
11 Danica Patrick (7) 26 1 lap 1 lap 199 Running
12 Oriol Servia (5) 12 3.4138 3.4138 199 Running
13 EJ Viso (33) 21 2 laps 1 lap 198 Running
14 Bruno Junqueira (18) 25 8.1522 8.1522 198 Running
15 Sarah Fisher (67) 16 11.0426 2.8904 198 Running
16 Jaime Camara (34) 22 3 laps 1 lap 197 Running
17 Mario Moraes (19) 23 5 laps 2 laps 195 Running
18 Hideki Mutoh (27) 4 43 laps 38 laps 157 Mechanical
19 Darren Manning (14) 17 53 laps 10 laps 147 Mechanical
20 AJ Foyt IV (2) 10 64 laps 11 laps 136 Mechanical
21 Milka Duno (23) 18 70 laps 6 laps 130 Contact
22 Enrique Bernoldi (36) 24 76 laps 6 laps 124 Handling
23 Marty Roth (25) 11 102 laps 26 laps 98 Mechanical
24 Justin Wilson (02) 19 118 laps 16 laps 82 Mechanical
25 Graham Rahal (06) 20 172 laps 54 laps 28 Mechanical
26 Will Power (8) 13 195 laps 23 laps 5 Mechanical
Race Statistics
      Winner's average speed: 183.650 mph
      Time of race: 1:36:42.3467
      Margin of victory: 0.5532 of a second
      Cautions: 3 caution flags for 21 laps
      Lead changes: 10 among 5 drivers
      Lap leaders: Dixon 1-44, Meira 45-49, Dixon 50-52, Patrick 53,
Dixon 54-121, Andretti 122-135, Dixon 136-164, Andretti
165-188, Dixon 189-194, Castroneves 195-199, Dixon 200.
      Point standings: Dixon 558, Castroneves 480, Wheldon 420,
Kanaan 411, Briscoe 350, Patrick 315, Andretti 311, Hunter- Reay 298, Servia 298 and Mutoh 298.

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