Dixon rolls to record-breaking 20th IndyCar win

  • By Will Graves Associated Press
  • Sunday, August 9, 2009 6:39pm
  • SportsSports

LEXINGTON, Ohio — Scott Dixon didn’t start racing IndyCars to set records.

They keep falling anyway.

Dixon became IndyCar’s career leader in victories with a commanding performance in the Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio on Sunday. The win was the 20th of Dixon’s career, breaking a tie with former series star Sam Hornish Jr.

Not that Dixon was ready to celebrate. He knows his record might not stand for long considering the company he keeps.

“To keep that going I’m definitely going to have to keep racing for a lot more years,” Dixon said. “But if I can get it to 25, 30, 35 that would be pretty cool.”

Dixon gave much of the credit for his success to the Target Chip Ganassi racing team.

“Obviously it’s a fantastic milestone for myself and obviously for the team,” he said. “To finally be labeled (among the best) in this series is a big deal to me, a big deal to the team. But it’s going to be tough to hang on to that.”

Dixon won so easily at Mid-Ohio, he was practically posing for pictures in Victory Lane by the time the rest of the field hit the finish line at the sprawling 2.258-mile course. He took the checkered flag nearly 30 seconds ahead of pole-sitter Ryan Briscoe, the largest margin of victory in the series in a decade.

“When you get to this place and you get in a rhythm with that car, you can do exactly what you want with it, you do a performance like Scott gave today,” said Dixon’s teammate Dario Franchitti, who finished third. “It was dominant and very impressive. He’s tough to beat.”

The win vaulted the defending points champion back atop the standings, the 12th time in 13 events this season that the points lead has changed hands.

The way Dixon ran roughshod over the field, he may have stamped himself as the driver to beat. Dixon heads to Sonoma in two weeks with a three-point lead over Briscoe and a 20-point edge over Franchitti.

If Dixon can keep it going, making up the difference won’t be easy, though he is hardly comfortable at the top.

“It’s going to go down to the wire,” Dixon said. “(Briscoe) definitely isn’t going to let up. My teammate Dario isn’t going to let up either.”

They better not if they want to stop Dixon’s bid for a third points title.

Even as temperatures peaked at 115 degrees on the track, Dixon had little trouble keeping his cool despite spending the first portion of the race falling well behind Justin Wilson.

Wilson was in total command early, slipping past Briscoe five laps in and quickly extending his lead to more than seven seconds.

Dixon, however, was able to close the gap thanks to slightly better fuel mileage and a perfect pit stop. He took the lead for good about halfway through the race after Wilson got hung up behind Milka Duno’s lapped car.

“I think we were already past him before we ran into Milka,” Dixon said. “She made it exciting for a couple of corners.”

Wilson’s bid to pick up his second win on a road course in five weeks ended when he stalled coming out of the pits with just over 20 laps remaining. He finished 13th.

With Wilson out of the way, Dixon had little resistance, turning the final laps into an extended victory parade.

“You don’t get cars like this too often or days that go this smoothly,” Dixon said.

The handful of modifications the series pushed through last week before the race at Kentucky in hopes of providing a more thrilling product — including the popular “Push to Pass” button — didn’t produce much in the way of excitement.

Dixon made sure of that.

The win was Dixon’s seventh career road triumph and first since winning at Edmonton over a year ago.

Though he’s displayed his usual dominance on ovals this year, Dixon hasn’t been quite so sharp when forced to turn both left and right.

He entered Mid-Ohio having led just three laps on road courses this year. Whatever road woes had bedeviled him, however, disappeared after he took the lead from Wilson, who appeared to get stuck behind the decidedly slower Duno.

Dixon didn’t get too fired up about breaking Hornish’s mark. The official IndyCar series only goes back to 1996. He’s still got plenty of work to do to catch A.J. Foyt, who holds the career record for open-wheel wins with 67.

Still, it’s heady company to keep. He didn’t expect this kind of success when he joined IndyCar in 2003, now he finds himself ahead of Hornish — who served as the face of the series for several years — in the record books.

Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

Lexington, Ohio

Lap length: 2.258 miles

(Starting position in parentheses; all cars Dallara chassis, Honda engine)

1. (3) Scott Dixon, 85 laps.

2. (1) Ryan Briscoe, 85.

3. (6) Dario Franchitti, 85.

4. (7) Ryan Hunter-Reay, 85.

5. (11) Hideki Mutoh, 85.

6. (13) Marco Andretti, 85.

7. (10) Paul Tracy, 85.

8. (4) Graham Rahal, 85.

9. (15) Raphael Matos, 85.

10. (8) Tony Kanaan, 85.

11. (14) Oriol Servia, 85.

12. (5) Helio Castroneves, 85.

13. (2) Justin Wilson, 85.

14. (18) Robert Doornbos, 85.

15. (9) E.J. Viso, 84.

16. (17) Dan Wheldon, 84.

17. (21) Ed Carpenter, 84.

18. (19) Richard Antinucci, 83.

19. (12) Danica Patrick, 83.

20. (16) Mike Conway, 69, mechanical.

21. (20) Milka Duno, 56, handling.

Race Statistics

Winner’s average speed: 108.540 mph.

Time of race: 1:46:05.7985.

Margin of victory: 29.7803 seconds.

Cautions: 2 for 6 laps.

Lead changes: 5 among 3 drivers.

Lap leaders: Briscoe 1-5, Wilson 6-28, Briscoe 29, Dixon 30-31, Wilson 32-36, Dixon 37-85.

Point standings

Dixon 460, Briscoe 457, Franchitti 440, Castroneves 359, Patrick 321, Andretti 307, Kanaan 294, Rahal 289, Wheldon 288, Wilson 270.

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