Dixon takes title at Bombardier Learjet 550 under caution

Updated: June 9, 2008, 2:10 PM ET
Associated Press

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Scott Dixon was complaining on the radio early in the race about Marco Andretti cutting in front of him out of the turns.

Still, Dixon never expected the gap he got for the winning pass Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway.

"I started moaning a bit on the radio like everybody does. Somebody might have said something to him about it," Dixon said. "At the end, he left it wide open. I don't know what he was doing. You could have put two or three cars through there."

Dixon took the lead from Andretti on the 222nd lap, driving under him coming through the third and fourth turns.

"If it was me, I wouldn't have given the same room," Dixon said.

It was just in time though for Dixon, who got a courtesy that Ryan Hunter-Reay obviously didn't.

Near the same spot a lap later, Hunter-Reay was on the bottom of the 1-mile, high-banked track trying to get past Andretti. But Hunter-Reay's car suddenly darted up into Andretti, sending both of them into the wall.

"He gave me the bottom line on the backstretch, then he really turned early," Hunter-Reay said. "He said that he gave me enough room. I didn't feel he did. Moving down to avoid contact, the car got unhinged."

IndyCar Series crews were unable to get the track cleared before the end of the 228-lap Bombardier Learjet 550k. It was the second straight IndyCar race that finished under caution.

It was the 13th career victory for Dixon, and third this season for the Indianapolis 500 champion and series points leader. He led 58 laps, the first time in five races that he didn't led at least 100 laps.

Helio Castroneves, the only driver to finish in the top five of every race, managed to avoid the race-ending crash and finished second and, but is still without a victory this season after leading a race-high 85 laps.

Ryan Briscoe, Castroneves' teammate at Penske Racing, finished third a week after getting his first IndyCar Series win and despite some early problems in the race.

Dan Wheldon, Dixon's teammate who was driving with a sprained right foot after a crash in practice Friday, was fourth. Tony Kanaan was fifth.

[+] EnlargeScott Dixon
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezDespite fuel concerns, Scott Dixon was able to best the field as the Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday.

Danica Patrick, whose third-place finish at Texas last June was her career best then, was 10th.

Any concerns about running out of fuel were eliminated when Hunter-Reay and Andretti crashed.

"I won at Texas. I can't believe it," Dixon said. "Everybody was trying to save fuel. We were probably going to be a little short."

Andretti complained of pain in both knees after the crash, but X-rays were negative. He and Hunter-Reay were both checked and released from the infield care center.

Until rookie Enrique Bernoldi crashed with 15 laps to go, it wasn't clear if the leaders would have enough fuel to finish the race. But they appeared ready to take the chance to finish without another stop because none of them came to pit row then.

Vitor Meira had just made his final stop before Bernoldi's accident, and that took him out of contention to finally win a race. The Indianapolis 500 runner-up, who has finished second seven times since 2004, wound up seventh and a lap behind the leaders.

After 37 of the first 60 laps were run under caution because of five yellow flags, there was finally an uninterrupted stretched of more than 100 green-flag laps.

Dixon and Castroneves ran side-by-side at 210 mph for about 10 laps soon after the fifth restart, separated by as little as .0033 seconds at the start-finish line and trading the lead several times during that stretch.

"It was a bit annoying at that point because nobody wanted to give in," Dixon said. "Everybody drove well together. Nobody tried to pinch anybody until that last incident."

Andretti got three-wide with the leaders on the 74th lap before Castroneves broke ahead, and Andretti took over second.

It was 24 laps later when Andretti went high on the backstretch and took over the lead, taking advantage of Castroneves being slowed by lapped traffic. Dixon was still third then.

Castroneves was back in front after 102 laps, after Andretti had already been in for a green-flag stop. But Castroneves was penalized for speeding on pit row, dropping to 12th and a lap back after his drive-through penalty.

Briscoe had his own problem when he came in as the leader a few laps later. His crew had trouble replacing a damaged front wing caused by contact with Ryan Hunter-Reay on the track.

On the first caution in the race, Briscoe made a mistake when he missed his pit stall and stopped in Wheldon's instead. Both stalls had black banners hanging on the wall, apparently confusing the Team Penske driver.

Briscoe had to pull away without service and hit a tire from another car, drawing drive-thru penalty. By time, Briscoe came in for fuel and served his penalty, he had dropped a lap back.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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