Pikes Peak: Dixon wins under yellow

Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon won an anticlimactic Pikes Peak IRL IndyCar race on Sunday, crossing the finish line under yellow flags

Pikes Peak:  Dixon wins under yellow

Tony Kanaan was second for Andretti Green Racing, but complained that was hindered by Dixon's lapped team-mate Tomas Scheckter. Gil de Ferran was third for Team Penske, but he came under criticism for his tactics at a restart from fourth placed Dario Franchitti, who was making his return to racing after injury.

Dixon passed de Ferran for the lead midway through the race, then didn't miss a beat while moving through traffic, making a pit stop and outlasting two late caution periods Sunday to win the Honda Indy 225. It was his second win in six IRL IndyCar Series races.

"I don't think we were the fastest car, but we had a good, clean run," Dixon said. "You didn't need much horsepower here, especially when the tyres got older. We were able to get great fuel mileage. We just leaned the thing back and we were still able to pick people off."

Dixon dipped inside de Ferran in the first turn on the 142nd lap of the 225-lap race. From there, he managed lapped cars, one critical pit stop and two yellow flags in the final 15 laps, winning under caution.

"When Tony and I were alone, we were pretty much the same," Dixon said. "But when we got into traffic, I could see that we were a little better than he was. Every time I could, I'd try to get somebody in between us."

Ever the consistent one, Kanaan finished second for the second successive race to maintain his series points lead. Dixon moved into second in points, 48 behind Kanaan.

"The best thing I can do on days like this is take the highest position I can," Kanaan said. "The highest position I could get today was second. As long as I can build up, I don't care if I don't win any single race until the end of the year. If I finish second every time, I can win the championship."

De Ferran passed Franchitti for third place shortly before the final caution period. Sam Hornish Jr charged up to fifth place - Chevrolet's best finish of the season - while the recently penalised Tora Takagi finished sixth.

But it was Dixon, who won the IRL opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway in March, who put all the pieces together Sunday. After he went low into turn one to pass de Ferran on the 142nd lap, Dixon maneuvered through lapped traffic to keep his distance from the pursuers.

"There were times when you thought you could pull away, and then you'd look in the mirror and someone would be creeping up on you again," Dixon said. "It was really tough."

The win was even more remarkable considering what happened in the morning practice session. Dixon's Target Chip Ganassi Toyota-powered G Force broke a tripod in the car's rear end. The crew replaced it and the gearbox, but Dixon didn't get back on the track until the start of the race.

"It was a shame," Dixon said. "It was a tripod on the inside of the wheel, which we couldn't do much about. We had to swap the gearboxes because it broke something in the gearbox, as well."

Meanwhile, others made solid gains. Franchitti, racing for the first time since March 23, looked strong throughout the race. De Ferran, the Indianapolis 500 winner, also made strides, moving into a tie for third in IRL points behind Kanaan and Dixon.

"It was never a cakewalk," de Ferran said. "I saw everybody out there twitching around, moving, understeer, oversteer. It was a matter of how much oversteer and understeer you had. I didn't see anybody out there just cruising along."

Except maybe Dixon, who used his lapped team-mate, Tomas Scheckter, to pull away from Kanaan shortly before the final cautions.

"I think in many races in the IRL, it's all about momentum," Dixon said. "You have to charge pretty hard to get ahead of the guy. Otherwise, as it showed today, the guys behind are just going to take over."

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