Kanaan takes points lead
Three races, three winners – and the new IndyCar Series points leader heading into the Indianapolis 500 isn’t one of them. Scott Dixon, winner of the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 April 26 at Kansas Speedway, called it back in November when he was still deciding where to display his second IndyCar Series championship trophy. The 2009 season would be the most competitive ever.
Dixon, who got off to a rough start with disappointing results on the streets of St. Petersburg (16th) and Long Beach (15th) vaulted from 17th to fourth in the standings with his first victory in seven attempts at Kansas Speedway. The new points leader, Tony Kanaan, is the only driver to finish in the top five in each of the first three races.
Four teams are represented in the top five of the standings – paced by Andretti Green Racing’s Kanaan – and six in the top 10. Nineteen drivers have posted top-10 finishes. Kanaan holds a one-point lead over Team Penske’s Ryan Briscoe, the winner at St. Petersburg, and a four-point lead over Dixon’s teammate Dario Franchitti, the winner at Long Beach.
“You've got to come out of the box fighting, you've got to be strong, you've got to be consistent,” Dixon said. “I think that shows with (Kanaan) taking the points lead. He's been in the top five every race we've gone to, but still hasn't won.
“Consistency's definitely the key. You have to come out with your A game. That's what makes this championship so tough to win. You've got so many great competitors. You've got big teams, fantastic drivers. It's getting tougher each year.”
Dixon heads into the May 6 opening of practice for the Indianapolis 500 as the defending champion, and with a renewed spirit after the 0.7104 of a second victory of Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves, who charged from his 21st starting position.
“This is a big boost for my confidence, the team's confidence, and a lot of momentum going into the Month of May, which is our biggest race,” he said.
Kanaan, with a third place at Kansas, was followed by teammates Danica Patrick (fifth), Marco Andretti (sixth) and Hideki Mutoh (eighth) – the first time four AGR cars finished in the top 10 since Milwaukee in ’06. It was the second race in a row for top 10s from Kanaan, Patrick and Andretti.
“We’re just really working hard towards what we need to do,” said the 2004 series champion. “Great momentum. But we have to turn the page and go to Indy. I think it makes us feel good that we had good races, but that doesn't mean anything. We're going to start from zero from now on.”