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Wet Track Good For Scott Dixon

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, August 1 2009
Tony Kanaan was back in a driver's suit at Kentucky on Friday, and talking to teammage Marco Andretti. Kanaan was injured in the last race when fuel ignited in his car. (IndyCar Series photo by Chris Jones)

Tony Kanaan was back in a driver's suit at Kentucky on Friday, and talking to teammage Marco Andretti. Kanaan was injured in the last race when fuel ignited in his car. (IndyCar Series photo by Chris Jones)

RacinToday.com

A wet track handed IndyCar Series championship leader Scott Dixon the Peak Motor Oil Pole Award for Saturday night’s Meijer Indy 300 Presented by Red Baron and Edy’s race at Kentucky Speedway.

Dixon will become the first IndyCar Series competitor to start consecutive Kentucky Speedway races from the pole position and will attempt to become the second back-to-back series race winner since Buddy Lazier took victories in 2000 and 2001.

The defending series champion earns his first pole award of the season and the 15th of his career, but will have to wait until tomorrow afternoon to test out newly available options for increasing his car’s downforce such as the intriguing “push-to-pass” feature.

“We’ll definitely take it any way we can get it. It just shows that throughout the season you have to be close to on top or near the top if you have adverse conditions and have to start by points.

“Unfortunately, it’s not the way we wanted to go about it. It’s a tough day here for all of us not being on the track, especially when we have a lot of different changes we’d like to try out. More so, even with the push-to-pass option,” Dixon said.

In addition to last season’s victory, he has earned a total of four top-five finishes through six career Kentucky Speedway starts. He will rely on that experience to make quick adjustments to his car during tomorrow’s 90-minute practice session which begins at 3:00 p.m.

“We won here last year and the car seems to be pretty good on mile-and-a-halves this season. The track has obviously changed a little bit from last year and we really don’t know how that’s going to go. We should be pretty decent. I think starting position is a big deal, especially with your teammate is right there,” he added.

The teammate with which he will share the front row is Dario Franchitti, who trails Dixon by three points in the championship standings after taking three victories, eight top-five and nine top-10 finishes through 11 series events.

Franchitti’s last IndyCar Series start at Kentucky Speedway came with Andretti Green Racing in 2007 before he departed for a stock car racing venture with current team owner Chip Ganassi. Franchitti has collected three top-10 finishes through four career IndyCar Series starts at the track.

“The one-and-a-half mile tracks are really all about the subtlety of one track to another so experience here does help, hopefully.

“Our biggest concern right now is to get some track time with all the new regulations and aero pieces. Every team would love to get out there and get some laps to see what it’s going to be like. You see the guys out there, the safety team, everybody from the IndyCar Series working hard to clean up the weepers, but there’s nothing you can do. It’s not their fault that it rained torrential rain yesterday.

“The good thing about racing with a team with a lot of experience, we always know how to react quickly and come up with the right set up. I’d like to get the car working the way I want it and we’ll be quick,” he said.

Team Penske teammates Ryan Briscoe and last year’s Kentucky Speedway series runner-up Helio Castroneves will share the second row. Andretti Green Racing teammates Danica Patrick and Marco Andretti will start fifth and sixth.

Firestone Indy Lights drivers also will experience the Kentucky Speedway tri-oval for the first time tomorrow.  The “Kentucky Indy Lights 100” field was set by entrant points earlier this afternoon. AFS/Andretti Green teammates J.R. Hildebrand and Sebastian Saaverda will share the front row of the 19-car grid. Hildebrand holds a 69-point lead over Saaverda in the championship standings through 10 events this season.

“We came out and tested here at the beginning of season and they’ve worked on the track since then, so it will be a little different. We had a good test and once we get out on track, we’ll figure out how good the car will be,” Hildebrand said.

Tickets for Saturday’s doubleheader race day remain and will be on sale at speedway entrances. Gates will open at 2:00 p.m., IndyCar Series practice follows, the Firestone Indy Lights race is scheduled to take green flag at 5:00 p.m., modern rock group Carolina Liar will be in concert at 6:15 p.m., and the IndyCar race is scheduled to start at 8:45 p.m.

– Courtesy Kentucky Speedway

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, August 1 2009
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