Dixon Wins IndyCar Thriller At Homestead-Miami Speedway

Homestead, FL ? Scott Dixon took advantage of Tony Kanaan?s late-race misfortune to win the GAINSCO Auto Insurance Indy 300, the 2008 IndyCar Series opener under the lights at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The race was a historic event as it was the first one since the return of the Champ Car competitors to the series.

?Today was a tough race,? Dixon said of his 11th IndyCar Series win and the second at HMS. ?Early-on we had a good car but the longer runs were not good for us. Also, I couldn?t run the car on the bottom of the track. On short runs and on new rubber, my car was really good. When Tony (Kanaan) had such good pit stop, it put him ahead but I thought it would be close at the end. Whether I would have had enough to get by him, I don?t know.?

Dixon added, ?If we can have a day where we don?t have the best car but still win is great. My team gave me great pit work, which helped us.?

Regarding the first race with the Champ Car regulars, Dixon stated, ?They were fantastic and they gave us tons of room. It is great to win the inaugural race, but it may be another year before the true unification is felt, as they haven?t had time to do much preparation.?

For the winner?s Target Chip Ganassi team, it was their 17th IndyCar victory and the team?s 92nd overall win in a variety of series. The Ganassi team also won the Rolex Series race run earlier in the day.

Dixon started from the pole and ran in the front in the early going but dropped to second after Marco Andretti took command. The winner ran between second and fourth as the laps wound down, regaining the runner-up position with 15 laps to go.

Trailing Kanaan, who seemed destined for victory, Dixon hoped he could reign in the leader but new it would be easier said than done unless the leader had a problem. Dixon?s opportunity came on the 193rd lap when Kanaan couldn?t miss the spinning car of Ernesto Viso.

Although Kanaan and his bent race car soldiered on during the caution period, the leader had to pull aside when green-flag racing resumed. Dixon bolted into the lead position and held it to the checkered flag.

The victor?s margin of victory was 0.5828 seconds over Andretti with Dixon?s teammate coming in third.

Andrettti made up for last year?s dismal performance with a strong run in the NYSE Andretti Green entry. ?Our goal was just to finish this darn thing,? Andretti said. ?We worked really hard in the off-season to get a car that works for me at this track, and I think we did it.?

Wheldon?s third-place run was remarkable as he was forced to start 23rd after crashing his primary car during qualifications. The flying Wheldon was up to ninth place within the first 10, sixth within 30 laps and fourth within 58 laps and 20 laps later he had moved to third.

?It was a tremendous team effort,? Wheldon said. ?I was able to get to the front quickly and on long runs, the car was very competitive. I gained one place because of Tony?s unfortunate situation.

Helio Castroneves earned fourth place, and he was the final car on the lead lap.

Ed Carpenter and teammate A. J. Foyt IV started in the rear as their cars failed technical inspection. The pair shot through the field and Carpenter gained fifth place while Foyt ended up in ninth.

Sixth was Danica Patrick with Ryan Hunter-Reay and Kanaan in seventh and eighth places, respectively.

Kanaan was dejected with the outcome but realistic, too. ?I?ve been around a long time, and the race is not finished until the checkered flag. When somebody spins and he?s doing 230 mph, you?re like, ?Where should I go?? I slowed down but all of a sudden he was there, and there was nothing I could do about it.?

Vitor Meira took 10th place.

Oriol Servia, in 12th, was the top finisher among the Champ Car entrants.

Three caution flags slowed the race for 24 laps. In addition to Kanaan?s accident, Ryan Briscoe was eliminated when he struck the spinning car of Milka Duno. No injuries were sustained in the incidents.

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