Dixon adds to points lead, Wheldon closes on second With six podium finishes in the season’s first seven races, Scott Dixon is no stranger to Victory Lane. His visit following the Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by Pioneer was strictly in a congratulatory role, however. For the first time since April, when he finished 22nd at St. Petersburg, Dixon finished outside the top three.
Dixon finished fourth at Iowa Speedway and visited Victory Lane merely to congratulate Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Dan Wheldon, who won the Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by Pioneer by .1430 of a second over Hideki Mutoh.
Dixon was only ninth-fastest in practice on the .875-mile oval, but started from the pole after qualifying was canceled due to rain. Dixon failed to lead a lap, however, as Helio Castroneves passed him after the green flag.
“Early on, the car was definitely not working the way I wanted,” Dixon said. “It was very loose, especially on the low line. I started using the high line and it came together better. The high line was definitely the choice of the day. When you had three or four guys in front of you trying to do the same thing, it was difficult to pass.”
Despite his absence from the podium, Dixon increased his lead in the point standings to 48 over Castroneves, who finished a season-low 14th.
“The Team Penske car was great, and we led the most laps, but after our final pit stop, I felt a change in the way the car was handling and thought we might have a tire problem,” said Castroneves, who led a field-high 92 laps. “Unfortunately, the car became too much to handle, and we had to stop for new tires.”
Wheldon, meanwhile, gained ground on both drivers. He trails Castroneves by one and Dixon by 49 as the drivers prepare for another short track battle June 28 on the .75-mile oval at Richmond International Raceway. All three drivers have won at Richmond.
“One of the engineers in the engineering group at Target Chip Ganassi Racing said that if we did a certain something for the race, it would only lose us two-hundredths of a second, but it would do something in another area,” said Wheldon, who claimed the team’s fifth win of the season. “When you're talking hundredths of seconds and you've got the guys working all the time to give us competitive equipment, it really does make a difference.
“I think Scott and I really kind of feed off that. There's still a long way to go in the championship. I've been around this business long enough to know now if you get on a roll, everything's great. But if you're not on that roll, it's really difficult. We've got to kind of maintain that momentum. There are going to be a lot of cars that are going to be competitive. (Team) Penske is renowned for being competitive at Richmond. We have to work real hard in our practice sessions to make sure we can try and be the competitive cars and race out front because it's much easier out front than it is in the middle of the pack.”
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