Dixon wins second straight race with Firestone Indy 200 victory
GLADEVILLE, Tenn. -- Having confidence in his top competitor allowed Scott Dixon to make the key pass that led to victory.
Dixon dipped to the inside and drove past points leader Dario Franchitti and Dan Wheldon on lap 95, then ran away with the Firestone Indy 200 on Sunday for his second straight IndyCar victory. He also became the first driver to repeat at the Nashville Superspeedway.
"Both of them going three wide into 3, it's not always a good situation," Dixon said.
"I trust Dario, a great competitor and a very fair guy to race with. I knew if I was inside of him, he was going to give me the room. Dan didn't even know I was there. Luckily, he gave us the room we needed to. It was a little hairy there for a few seconds."
Dixon, who also won last week at Watkins Glen, became the 14th driver with consecutive IndyCar Series wins.
The man with the fastest car in practice and qualifying made only a few changes to survive the IndyCar Series' first rainout in seven years. The rain turned a Saturday night race under the lights into a steamy sprint on a hot day where the track was 106 degrees at the start.
"That's two weeks in a row, and definitely what we need for the championship," Dixon said.
Dixon's victory at Watkins Glen last week was overshadowed by the fight involving Tony Kanaan and Sam Hornish Jr., but he had no such problems Sunday when not even a caution for a light sprinkle or a restart with six laps left could eat into his lead.
His second victory this season and eighth of his career pulled him within 34 points of Franchitti with six races left.
"I like being in this position. We have nothing to lose. We can go as fast as we possibly can and go for race wins. That's something we struggled with at the first of the season," Dixon said of four second-place finishes.
"Now we've got to go all out and try to get as many wins as possible."
Franchitti and Patrick were unhappy with having to fight through lapped traffic that kept either from making a run late. Only eight of the 18 cars finished on the lead lap, and Patrick particularly pointed out Ed Carpenter, who finished 13th and three laps down.
Oreovicz: And then there were two
Scott Dixon is slowly whittling down Dario Franchitti's IndyCar Series lead after winning his second consecutive race. It's all-but officially a two-man run for the title with six races to go, writes John Oreovicz. Story
"You need to let the people at the front have their race," Patrick said. "That's what held me up the most. Carpenter was not cooperating, and we'll address that. There's no doubt about it."
For Franchitti, protecting his position atop the points was the priority when Dixon drove up beside him for the key pass.
"I could've maybe tried to make an outside pass. The marbles are so bad here at Nashville ...," Franchitti said of the bits of rubber chewed off the tires by the concrete. "I couldn't afford to do that in the position for the championship, so I had to back off."
Franchitti still has finished in the top five of 10 of the season's 11 races including eight where he has been third or higher.
The race was the first IndyCar Series event delayed a day by rain since June 2000 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Dixon started on the pole and watched Franchitti pass him on the opening lap for the lead, which he held for 88 laps. Wheldon also led a few laps.
But Dixon took back the lead and grabbed hold of the race with an impressive pass. Franchitti and Wheldon both were slowed by traffic, and Dixon dipped to the inside, passing both on the left for the lead.
Dixon, who came in trailing Franchitti by 47 points for the series points lead, pitted for the last time on Lap 154. He retook the lead as he came back out of the pits on Lap 159 and didn't let the lead slip away again.
He won by a margin of 2.24 seconds, which would have been even bigger if not for the third and final caution.
Jeff Simmons couldn't turn entering pit road and drifted up onto the track, and Kosuke Matsurra hit the wall in Turn 4 on lap 189. But with all the lapped cars, the final six laps after the restart kept Franchitti from making a serious run at Dixon.
Kanaan's race came to a much quieter finish than at Watkins Glen.
The Brazilian was running second on lap 36 when he came up on Sarah Fisher. She was running last, and Kanaan got a little high passing her as he went down the back stretch. He spun around and hit into the wall backward before coming to a stop at the start of Turn 3.
"I just lost it," Kanaan said. "There was no warning. It's a tough break for us. We had such a good car, and it's a tough break for the championship.
He slipped to fourth and now trails Franchitti, his Andretti Green Racing teammate, by 103 points.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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