SPARTA, Ky. (AP) - Scott Dixon is having one of those
near-perfect seasons, and it's more than a little frustrating for
the guy trying to chase him down.
Dixon came from behind Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway,
passing Helio Castroneves coming off the final turn on the 1.5-mile
oval to win the Meijer Indy 300. It was the second win in a row and
the sixth victory of the season for Dixon, tying the record of Chip
Ganassi Racing teammate Dan Wheldon as he races toward what would
be his second IndyCar Series championship.
Series runner-up Castroneves, still trying for his first victory
of the season and his first series title as he chases Dixon, tried
to get this one with fuel strategy.
It looked as if Castroneves had it when he took the lead with
six laps to go when Dixon, who had dominated most of the 200-lap
race, was forced to make a fuel stop.
Dixon came out just over 6 seconds behind the Brazilian, but
steadily cut into the margin. He started the final lap just
six-tenths of a second behind and finally passed Castroneves as the
leader slowed coming off the fourth turn, out of fuel.
Castroneves then coasted slowly across the finish line, barely
holding off Marco Andretti.
"I knew he was a little bit slow and I could see us catching
him, and to get him on the last corner was pretty fantastic,"
Dixon said. "I said that view was pretty sweet.
"I think this is the view Dario had on the last lap in Chicago
last year," added Dixon, referring to Dario Franchitti passing him
on the last lap to win both the race and the championship last year
in the season-finale.
It was the seventh second-place finish of the season for the
"Going into turn three I was like finally, I'm going to win a
race," Castroneves said. "In turn four I was just trying to
finish. I saw a bunch of cars pass me and I'm like 'I can't believe
Still able to smile, he added, "I tried everything. Second
seems to be my place. What can I say? Every time he wins I finish
second and, unfortunately, every time I finish second, he finishes
first. We've got to change that."
Tim Cindric, the president of Penske Racing, who calls the races
for Castroneves, brought his driver in to top off the fuel tank on
lap 143, meaning Castroneves had to go the final 64 laps on a tank
of fuel - about 12 laps further than the average.
As Dixon chased down the leader, Cindric could be heard on the
radio exhorting Castroneves: "You got to go! You got to go! He's
He did his best until the ethanol ran out.
Castroneves was philosophical.
"It was the opportunity to play strategy and I give the total
credit to Tim Cindric," he said. "It was his call. It almost
Dixon also earned the three-point bonus for leading a race-high
151 laps and extended his series lead over runner-up Castroneves by
13 points to an almost insurmountable 78 with three races
"Scott is having a fantastic year," said Castroneves, who has
finished in the top five in all but two of the 14 races this
season. "This is one of the first races where we didn't have the
car, but we took chances."
The finish was almost as frustrating for Andretti, also winless
this season. The son of Andretti Green Racing co-owner Michael
Andretti lost his shot at his second career victory and first since
August 2006 when he had to make his final pit stop on lap 189.
"We have got to start capitalizing on these cars that can win
these races," said Andretti, who led 38 laps. "Dixon had a bit of
speed on us, but I think we had a better car in traffic. It was
between him and I to win this race, and I think it is just
Vitor Meira, in the hunt throughout the race, finished fourth,
followed by Wheldon, Ed Carpenter, Ryan Briscoe and defending race
winner Tony Kanaan. Danica Patrick, who had to start last after
crashing in practice and missing Friday's qualifying, finished
11th, a lap off the pace.
Dixon now has five of his six wins and 10 top-five finishes in
10 oval races this season.
Starting from the pole for the sixth time in 2008, he looked
unbeatable early in the race. But both Meira, still looking for his
first IndyCar victory in his 90th career start, and Andretti were
able to stay with him. Each was able to pass Dixon for the lead at
times, but the eventual winner was able to keep his near-perfect