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4 winners in 4 races as IndyCar Series heads to Indy
Four IndyCar Series races, four different race winners for the first time since 2004. Four drivers within 15 points of first place in the championship standings as the series readies for the Indianapolis 500 in four weeks.
Dan Wheldon, who became the first repeat winner in eight races at Kansas Speedway by edging Tony Kanaan by 2.1778 seconds in the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 April 27, will be among the "500" favorites for the fourth year in a row.
In 2005, Wheldon glided to the checkers in the 500-Mile Race prequel at Twin Ring Motegi and went on to Victory Circle at the Brickyard. In '06, he finished second at the egg-shaped oval in Japan before qualifying on the front row and finishing fourth at Indianapolis. Last year, the victory at the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway oval set the table for Wheldon to make another run at the Borg-Warner Trophy. He qualified sixth but finished 22nd after an accident.
"I think the win is good, but the biggest thing that you notice about this year is you pick up the wins when you can, but you can't have races out of the top five because the points are just that close," said Wheldon, who has finished third, fourth and first on the ovals this season. "So it's important to score wins. I think this will help going into the month of May, but I don't think it means too much because it's just going to be tight there."
If Wheldon wants to fly under the radar, teammate Scott Dixon will show up on the screen of the 2.5-mile Speedway. The 2003 IndyCar Series champion has gone first, third and third on the ovals and trails championship points leader Helio Castroneves by six.
"I was looking at (Dixon’s) results, and I think they've been in the top four every single (practice) session the whole year," Kanaan said. "So Scott's been very strong. He has shown that sometimes other things have let him down. So I think Scott is one of the favorites, for sure."
That's two known commodities, but what about Kanaan and others? After a runner-up finish and a strong showing at Kansas, Marco Andretti could contend like he did in his 2006 debut. Danica Patrick, who started and finished fourth in '05, likely will make some noise. Castroneves will be seeking his third victory at Indianapolis, while Oriol Servia, Justin Wilson and Graham Rahal among others showed speed and consistency at Kansas.
"Everybody wants to win that race, especially me and Scott," said Kanaan, who has come close numerous times. "It's kind of a place that you create a lot of expectations, which I try not to do because you can leave that place pretty disappointed. If I have a car to win, it would definitely mean a lot to me.
"Indy's an open road, so I think everybody's going to have a chance to do really well there. If you remember when anyone asked (Sebastian) Bourdais and Bruno (Junqueira), they were pretty strong there (in 2005). So I don't see why not they can come back there and be as strong.
"Indy's a whole different game. So I'm pretty sure there are a lot of those guys going to be up to speed pretty fast." IRL PR
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