Firestone Indy 200
Dixon's Lucky Rabbit's Foot
by Esteban Morales
July 12, 2008
One week ago Scott Dixon tested his luck by spinning himself out of contention in the closing stages of the Camping World Grand Prix at Watkins Glen. Despite the spin, Dixon made up with Lady Luck and returned to victory lane in Nashville for a very wet Firestone Indy 200. After collecting his fourth win this season Dixon pointed out that “a lot of the times you definitely have a strong car and you have a little bit of luck go your way.” A little bit of luck was a serious understatement considering the late-race mistake and fortune that saw Dixon take the victory.
With rain looming over Nashville Superspeedway most of the field drove into pit lane for their final stop of the night under yellow. Dixon meant to join the field but accidentally kept his car on the track. With Dixon inadvertently in the lead, the Target Chip Ganassi Racing crew decided to forego a stop and rolled the dice. When the race went green for the last time on lap 152 Dixon kept pushing until the skies opened and the yellow flew. Within a few minutes the IndyCar Series red flagged the race on lap 171 and Dixon padded his championship lead over Helio Castroneves.
Before rain ended the night Castroneves led the early stages of the event over Danica Patrick. Because of the possibility of rain the leaders refused to settle into a steady race pace and ran the early stages like a short track shootout. After unsuccessfully diving to the inside of Castroneves, Patrick lost her momentum and opened the door for Dixon and Tony Kanaan. By lap 55 Dixon mounted a challenge and took the lead in the second turn while Castroneves dropped to fifth.
In the midst of the action at the front, Vitor Meira, who qualified in the lower half of the pack, steadily made progress throughout the night and ran in fourth after the first set of pit stops cycled through. Meira and the leaders settled into a rhythm for a few laps before Kanaan drafted off Dixon’s Dallara and dove to the lead on lap 90. Kanaan began to open his lead over Dixon and had the race in control when Ryan Hunter-Reay ran high and collided in Turns 3 and 4. Kanaan led the field into the pits and emerged ahead of Dixon and Patrick. When the race was restarted on lap 110 Kanaan continued where he left off and quickly opened his lead over Dixon. Having crossed the halfway mark of the race Kanaan was hoping for rain.
Kanaan nearly got his wish on lap 139 when race control reported light rain and slowed the field under yellow. The IndyCars circled under caution for a few minutes as the rain moved out and the track dried. Assuming everyone would follow Kanaan, Andretti Green Racing brought Kanaan into pit lane for his final stop of the night during the yellow. Meira, Patrick, Castroneves and the rest of the field followed while Dixon accidentally made the call of the night by missing the pit entry and keeping his car on the track. When the race was restarted for the final time Kanaan was unable to challenge for the lead while Castroneves forced his way into third behind Dixon and Dan Wheldon. Fourteen laps after the restart showers prematurely ended the night and Dixon collected his fourth win this year and his third in his eye-catching Energizer livery featuring the Energizer Bunny. “Every time we ran this car, I've won with it, here at Nashville and at Watkins Glen. It's been a hell of a lot of luck for us, but you could not have been luckier than we were tonight.”