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INDYCAR NEWS 

Dixon takes first unified IRL win

Scott Dixon in Homestead Victory LaneScott Dixon took advantage of Tony Kanaan's misfortune to win the historic first unified round of the IRL IndyCar Series under the lights at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The victory was Dixon's 12th since his Chip Ganassi Racing team left Champ Car for the Indy Racing League at the end of the 2002 season.

His triumph came at the expense of Andretti Green Racing driver Kanaan, who was leading the race when the lapped HVM car of Ernesto Viso spun and collected him with just seven laps remaining.

"When somebody spins in front of you at 230 mph, you're like, 'Where should I go?'" Kanaan explained.

"I slowed down. He was on the bottom, so I went to the top. Then all of a sudden he started to go to the top and I went to the bottom. There was nothing I could do about it.

"The race is not finished until the chequered flag," Kanaan said. "But how many times have I won races because some other guy was unlucky? With 10 laps to go I was looking around and thinking, 'This is too easy.'"

Dixon, who led 67 of the 200 laps on the 1.5-mile oval, found himself back in the lead on a restart with three laps to go, when Kanaan, his right front wheel crippled from the Viso crash, ducked low and let the field pass on the final restart.

"I didn't even know he'd hit the guy," Dixon said. "It would have been really close if he hadn't had the incident because we were catching him pretty quickly. It was a damn shame to see him have such a silly little incident take him out of the race.

"Tony had a great car. We were struggling on long runs, but we were able to stay in it because of pit stops. Our guys were great all night long on pit stops. This is fantastic.

"It was one of those races where we didn't exactly have speed all the time or things weren't really going our way. But if you can have races like that, where you have a bad day and still come out on top, it's a great way to take away points from others."

It was the fourth consecutive Homestead victory for Chip Ganassi's team, who had won the previous three season-openers with Dan Wheldon.

Mid-race leader Marco Andretti (AGR) finished second, just ahead of Wheldon, who started near the back of the pack because of a crash in qualifying but quickly raced into contention.

Andretti raced into the lead early in the evening and stayed there for more laps than anyone else - 85 altogether. His pass on Dixon for the lead on the 76th lap - a frightening squeeze between the wall and Dixon's car in Turn 4 - left both drivers buzzing after the race.

"Dixon saved both of us, really," Andretti said. "At that point, if I had gotten out of it, my car would have come around. I had to just go for it on the outside. His car wiggled all the way up the track, and I wiggled with him. But he got it straight before we both hit the wall."

"I was getting ready to let go of the wheel on that one," admitted Dixon. "I just heard, 'Outside, outside, outside' but I was getting so close to the wall. There was no room left and I didn't want to turn the wheel because I knew if I did I was going to spin out."

Following Dixon, Andretti and Wheldon were Penske's Helio Castroneves, Vision driver Ed Carpenter - who also came through from the back having failed post-qualifying technical inspection - AGR's Danica Patrick and Rahal Letterman driver Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Kanaan limped home in eighth place, followed by AJ Foyt IV in the second Vision car and Panther Racing driver Vitor Meira.

Oriol Servia (KV Racing) in 12th place was the highest finishing of the newcomers from Champ Car, scoring a solid if somewhat cautious finish five laps behind the leaders.

Franck Perera finished 14th for Conquest, with Justin Wilson (Newman Haas Lanigan) 15th after early contact with KV driver Will Power, and Dale Coyne's Mario Moraes taking 16th.

The race was interrupted only three times by cautions. The first came for debris on the 18th lap, the second for Milka Duno's spin that collected Penske driver Ryan Briscoe on the 127th lap, and the last for Viso's spin, which barely brushed Kanaan's right front but did enough damage to cost him the race.

Pos  Driver             Team                 Time
 1.  Scott Dixon        Ganassi              200 laps
 2.  Marco Andretti     Andretti Green       +  0.5828
 3.  Dan Wheldon        Ganassi              +  1.4278
 4.  Helio Castroneves  Penske               +  8.0340
 5.  Ed Carpenter       Vision               +   1 lap
 6.  Danica Patrick     Andretti Green       +   1 lap
 7.  Ryan Hunter-Reay   Rahal Letterman      +   1 lap
 8.  Tony Kanaan        Andretti Green       +  2 laps
 9.  AJ Foyt IV         Vision               +  2 laps
10.  Vitor Meira        Panther              +  3 laps
11.  Buddy Rice         Dreyer & Reinbold    +  4 laps
12.  Oriol Servia       KV                   +  5 laps
13.  Darren Manning     Foyt                 +  6 laps
14.  Franck Perera      Conquest             +  6 laps
15.  Justin Wilson      Newman Haas Lanigan  +  7 laps
16.  Mario Moraes       Dale Coyne           + 13 laps
17.  Ernesto Viso       HVM                  + 17 laps
18.  Enrique Bernoldi   Conquest             + 51 laps
19.  Ryan Briscoe       Penske               + 74 laps
20.  Milka Duno         Dreyer & Reinbold    + 78 laps
21.  Marty Roth         Roth                 +147 laps
22.  Jay Howard         Roth                 +150 laps
23.  Bruno Junqueira    Dale Coyne           +160 laps
24.  Hideki Mutoh       Andretti Green       +168 laps
25.  Will Power         KV                   +176 laps

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