Firestone Indy 200
Dixon Keeps Going and Going
by Esteban Morales
July 15 , 2007
After back-to-back victories Scott Dixon may ask team owner Chip Ganassi to run the Energizer livery more often. When the Target Chip Ganassi Racing crew debuted the striking blue Dallara at Watkins Glen during the 2006 season Dixon left the track with another win in his pocket. Coming off his third consecutive win at The Glen just one week ago, Dixon recorded his second victory of 2007 after strapping into his Energizer Dallara for the first time this season. With the win Dixon was able to considerably carve into Dario Franchitti’s championship lead; the Scotsman came into the event with a 47-point lead but left 34 points ahead of Dixon.
Though Dixon made the most out of the Firestone Indy 200 at Nashville Superspeedway by taking pole position as well, Franchitti and the rest did not let the Energizer car cruise into victory lane. In fact, nature even refused to comply. The event, which was scheduled as a Saturday night race, took place the following afternoon after having been rained out. Once the race began the threat of heavy rains reemerged just before the halfway point. Fortunately series officials were able to restart the event a dozen laps after the yellow flag flew. Prior to this Dixon had initially lost the lead on the opening lap. Franchitti took the lead in turn 2 while Dixon fell to third behind Tony Kanaan. Although Franchitti easily opened a two-second lead over Kanaan, Dixon regained the position and closed on Franchitti after Kanaan spun into the turn 2 retaining wall while lapping Sarah Fisher.
Following pit stops Franchitti led momentarily before being hampered by lapped traffic, a controversial point during and after the event. On lap 87 Franchitti approached a large group of slower traffic. The following lap the championship leader fell into the clutches of Dixon and Dan Wheldon. As Wheldon and Franchitti slowed while trying to avoid contact with the group ahead of them, Dixon held onto his momentum and made a three-wide dive for the lead. The TCGR cars held the first two positions until Mother Nature provoked the second caution of the event prompting Wheldon and others to pit under yellow. After the halfway mark Dixon led Franchitti, Wheldon, Marco Andretti, Danica Patrick, and the rest back to the green and held onto the lead the rest of the way.
While Dixon comfortably led the way, others including Wheldon and Patrick had a rough time making it to the checkered flag. Wheldon’s race began to disintegrate after Ed Carpenter’s lapped car allowed the leaders to open a huge gap. After clearing Carpenter Wheldon entered pit road to make his final stop on lap 154. Seconds later Wheldon’s car was dropped before the right rear tire was replaced; Wheldon pounded his steering wheel in vain and dropped to ninth before finishing eighth. Meanwhile, Danica Patrick consistently ran with the leaders and moved into third after her final stop. Like Wheldon, Patrick was also held up during the final restart of the event by Ed Carpenter. Despite not having the speed to challenge Dixon and Franchitti, Patrick was able to hold off Sam Hornish Jr. and Scott Sharp to record her second podium of the season.