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Dixon Wins In Milwaukee

John Sturbin | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, May 31 2009
From left - Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon and Ryan Briscoe celebrate at Milwaukee. (IndyCar photo by Dan Helrigel)

From left - Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon and Ryan Briscoe celebrate at Milwaukee. (IndyCar photo by Dan Helrigel)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Reigning IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon emerged as the first two-time winner of the 2009 season, and also moved into the points lead, with a victory in the ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt 225 Sunday afternoon.

Dixon, of Target Chip Ganassi Racing, completed the race-winning pass under pole-sitter Ryan Briscoe of Team Penske on Lap 201 down the backstretch of The Milwaukee Mile en route to finishing 2.1257 seconds ahead of Briscoe. Dario Franchitti, Dixon’s teammate, finished third, followed by Graham Rahal and Danica Patrick.

Dixon, who won the season’s first oval track race at Kansas Speedway on April 26, notched his 18th career series victory.

”It was tough,” said Dixon, driver of the No. 9 Dallara/Honda. “Man, what a long race. We had a lot of traffic and traffic was key. We’ve come a long way after crashing two cars in four laps at this place in 2005. We had a great race with Dario. I’m so stoked that we won here at The Milwaukee Mile.”

Dixon moved from fourth to first in points with 161 through five events. Dixon is four points ahead of Franchitti and Briscoe, who are tied for second, with Patrick in fourth, 22 points behind the leader. Round 6 of the series, and the season’s first night race, is scheduled for Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. The Bombardier Learjet 550k is set for 8:30 p.m., CT, on TMS’ 1.5-mile quadoval. The race will be televised on Versus.

Briscoe, last year’s winner here, acknowledged that Dixon’s winning pass was aided by lapped traffic.

“Scott was there all day,” said Briscoe, driver of the No. 6 Dallara/Honda. “I got held up there, I think by (Tomas) Scheckter, tried to go inside but had to check-up. I could see Scott’s car was a little faster and he carried momentum through the middle of the corners (better). That’s how I got Dario when he was leading. It was fun and exciting. I love this track.”

Franchitti agreed that dealing with traffic was a race-long issue, as only seven of 20 cars finished on the lead lap.

“I didn’t do a good enough job timing a couple of those passes,” said Franchitti, driver of the No. 10 Dallara/Honda. “If you got momentum and managed to pass people, you could do that. Congrats to Scott and the Target Boys. Lots of fun racing here at Milwaukee.”

Sunday’s result kept intact the stranglehold that Target Chip Ganassi Racing and Team Penske drivers have on the series. No other team has visited Victory Lane this season.

Graham Rahal, who started second, finished a solid fourth for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing one week after crashing out of the Indianapolis 500 for the second consecutive year.

“It came back to us at the end. We caught ‘em at the end but needed 10 more laps,” said Rahal, who scored his first top-five of the season in the No. 02 McDonald’s Dallara/Honda. “The biggest thing I said I wasn’t going to make the same mistake here (get caught-up in the marbles) two years in a row. We’re going to continue to improve. Our main goal was to finish; we knew we had a car capable of winning. We needed to get to the end. Our performance was good. We’re going to move onto Texas. We now we have the speed on the 1.5s.”

Rahal’s best previous finish this season was seventh on the street course at St. Petersburg, Fla., and on the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway oval.

Patrick’s fifth-place finish, one week after she placed a career-best third in the Indy 500, moved her from sixth to fourth in points. Beginning on the street course at Long Beach, Patrick has recorded finishes of fourth, fifth (Kansas), third (Indy) and fifth.

“The balance of the car was OK but when I caught traffic the car lost overall grip,” said Patrick, driver of the No. 7 Boost Mobile Dallara/Honda fielded by Andretti Green Racing. “I was hoping we were going to be able to get by Graham at the end, but just couldn’t get it done. I had a strong car all weekend so I’m happy with the top-five finish. We have been really consistent so far this year, and that’s what’s important when you are working towards the championship. I’m looking forward to Texas and hope to keep the momentum going.”

Meanwhile, three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves survived a miserable day that saw him start last in the field after bouncing off the SAFER Barrier during qualifying Saturday afternoon.
“This is one the days when you ask how many laps are there to go?” said Castroneves, who finished 11th.  “It was a long day for us.” Castroneves is now fifth in points, 25 behind Dixon but only three behind Patrick heading to Texas, where he is a two-time winner.

The Bombardier Learjet 550k Race Week begins Thursday, June 4, with two practice sessions and qualifying at 6 p.m., CDT, for the WinStar World Casino 400 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event. The opening IndyCar Series practice is set for 7:45 p.m. IndyCar qualifying is scheduled for Friday, June 5, at 5:30 p.m., followed by the Truck Series race at 8.

The headline Bombardier Learjet 550k IndyCar race is set for Saturday, June 6, at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are available for each day by calling the TMS office at 817-215-8500 or by visiting www.texasmotorspeedway.com.

–  John Sturbin can be reached at jsturbin@racintoday.com

John Sturbin | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, May 31 2009
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