Dixon Wins Rain-Delayed Firestone Indy 200

Sunday, July 15th 2007, 3:02 pm
By: News On 6

GLADEVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ Scott Dixon had the fastest car in practice and qualifying. Not even the IndyCar Series' first rainout in nearly seven years could slow him down.

Dixon passed Dario Franchitti and Dan Wheldon on lap 95 and ran away with the Firestone Indy 200 on Sunday for his second straight IndyCar victory. He also became the first driver to repeat at the Nashville Superspeedway.

``That's two weeks in a row, and definitely what we need for the championship,'' Dixon said.

Dixon's victory at Watkins Glen last week was overshadowed by the fight involving Tony Kanaan and Sam Hornish Jr., but he had no such problems Sunday when not even a caution for a light sprinkle or a restart with five laps left could eat into his lead.

His second victory this season and eighth of his career pulled him within 34 points of Franchitti with six races left.

``I like being in this position. We have nothing to lose. We can go as fast as we possibly can and go for race wins. That's something we struggled with at the first of the season,'' Dixon said of four second-place finishes.

``Now we've got to go all out and try to get as many wins as possible.''

Franchitti was second, and Danica Patrick tied her career-best finish of third earlier this year at Texas. Sam Hornish Jr. was fourth followed by Marco Andretti.

Neither Franchitti nor Patrick was happy with having to fight through lapped traffic that kept either from making a run late. Only eight of the 18 cars finished on the lead lap, and Patrick particularly pointed out Ed Carpenter, who finished 13th and three laps down.

``You need to let the people at the front have their race,'' Patrick said. ``That's what held me up the most. Carpenter was not cooperating, and we'll address that. There's no doubt about it.''

For Franchitti, protecting his position atop the points came into his mind as Dixon drove up beside him for the key pass.

``I could've maybe tried to make an outside pass. The marbles are so bad here at Nashville ...,'' Franchitti said of the bits of rubber chewed off the tires by the concrete. ``I couldn't afford to do that in the position for the championship, so I had to back off.''

The race was postponed from Saturday night until Sunday, the first IndyCar Series' race delayed a day by rain since June 2000 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Dixon started on the pole and watched Franchitti pass him on the opening lap for the lead, which he held for 88 laps. Wheldon also led a few laps.

But Dixon took back the lead and grabbed hold of the race with an impressive pass. Franchitti and Wheldon both were slowed by traffic, and Dixon dipped to the inside, passing both on the left for the lead.

Dixon, who came in trailing Franchitti by 47 points for the series points lead, pitted for the last time on lap 154. He retook the lead as he came back out of the pits on lap 159 and didn't let the lead slip away again.

He won by a margin of 2.24 seconds, which would have been even bigger if not for the third and final caution.

Jeff Simmons couldn't turn entering pit road and drifted up onto the track, and Kosuke Matsurra hit the wall in Turn 4 on lap 189. But with all the lapped cars, the final five laps after the restart kept Franchitti from making a serious run at Dixon.

Kanaan's race came to a much quieter finish than at Watkins Glen.

The Brazilian was running second on lap 36 when he came up on Sarah Fisher. She was running last, and Kanaan got a little high passing her as he went down the back stretch. He spun around and hit into the wall backward before coming to a stop at the start of Turn 3.