IRL: Round 5 – Road Runner Turbo Indy 300, Kansas – May 1

Scott Dixon won the IndyCar event at Kansas on Saturday ahead of his team mate Dario Franchitti in what was a completely Ganassi-dominated event.

Dixon and Franchitti initially ran second and third behind Ryan Briscoe but always looked threatening. Dixon went for the lead as early as lap 14 but got loose in the attempt, allowing Franchitti to slip through into second: but Dixon always looked the stronger of the two and was quickly back in front, finally taking the race lead just ahead of the first round of pit stops. The top five pulled out well ahead of the rest of the pack, Helio Castroneves and Vitor Meira the only drivers able to stay with the Ganassi cars and Briscoe.

The first caution came out on lap 71 when EJ Viso got too high while trying some overtaking moves, got on the markbles and ended up against the wall and out of the race. The ensuing pit stop proved costly for Briscoe, who had to pit a second time to check for wing damage and then lost a wheel; it also saw Milka Duno out after clashing in pit lane with Takuma Sato which ended up in them both running off into the infield grass. Sato was able to able to continue and ran as high up as sixth, fighting for position with Helio Castroneves in what was an impressive first run on IndyCar ovals.

Will Power also had a poor early stop, overshooting his pit box; but it was clear that the Aussie didn’t have the same pace on ovals as he had enjoyed on the road courses so far this season. Danica Patrick was another driver struggling from the outset and falling down the field, lapped by mid-race distance – but then still frustrating Helio Castroneves, who spent many laps trying to get past the already-lapped Danica before finally getting the deed done.

The driver on the rise for much of the day was Ryan Hunter-Reay, who started 24th but rose steadily through the first half of the race to get into the top five. He fell back a bit after that, but came on strong again in the closing laps to finish in that position by the chequered.

After Briscoe’s departure from the top positions, it was Tony Kanaan who emerged as the best of the rest after Dixon/Franchitti/Castroneves in fourth place, with challengers including Alex Tagliani and Hideki Mutoh jokeying for fifth with Hunter-Reay.

There was a second caution around lap 120 for debris, which came in the middle of pit stops; and another on lap 172 when Jay Howard got too high up on the track, hit the marbles and had a painful encounter with the wall on lap 172. Then, just as the field was getting back to green again on lap 186, Takuma Sato’s impressive afternoon ended in collision with Hideki Mutoh as the two manoeuvred for position at the restart, and the two cars wrecked against the wall.

That left very little time for the race to get back to green. Scott Dixon had an easy run to a well-deserved victory from there, but Franchitti and Kanaan found themselves behind Castroneves and stuck in lapped traffic, causing a few tense moments for them before finally emerging in second and third place.

Race result

Pos  Driver               Team                         Time/Gap
 1.  Scott Dixon          Ganassi                 1h50m43.1410s
 2.  Dario Franchitti     Ganassi                     + 3.0528s
 3.  Tony Kanaan          Andretti                    + 3.2210s
 4.  Helio Castroneves    Penske                      + 3.8300s
 5.  Ryan Hunter-Reay     Andretti                    + 6.1133s
 6.  Ryan Briscoe         Penske                      + 6.7951s
 7.  Mario Moraes         KV                            + 1 lap
 8.  Alex Tagliani        Fazzt                         + 1 lap
 9.  John Andretti        Andretti                      + 1 lap
10.  Vitor Meira          Foyt                          + 1 lap
11.  Danica Patrick       Andretti                     + 2 laps
12.  Will Power           Penske                       + 2 laps
13.  Marco Andretti       Andretti                     + 2 laps
14.  Mike Conway          Dreyer & Reinbold            + 2 laps
15.  Dan Wheldon          Panther                      + 2 laps
16.  Raphael Matos        Luczo Dragon/de Ferran       + 2 laps
17.  Sarah Fisher         Sarah Fisher                 + 2 laps
18.  Justin Wilson        Dreyer & Reinbold            + 3 laps
19.  Alex Lloyd           Dale Coyne                   + 3 laps
20.  Bertrand Baguette    Conquest                     + 3 laps
21.  Simona de Silvestro  HVM                          + 3 laps
22.  Mario Romancini      Conquest                     + 4 laps

Retirements:

     Hideki Mutoh         Newman/Haas/Lanigan     186 laps
     Takuma Sato          KV                      186 laps
     Jay Howard           Sarah Fisher            172 laps
     Milka Duno           Dale Coyne              84 laps
     EJ Viso              KV                      71 laps

IndyCar championship standings

Pos Driver               Points
1   Will Power           190
2   Scott Dixon          164
3   Helio Castroneves    162
4   Ryan Hunter-Reay     159
5   Dario Franchitti     152
6   Justin Wilson        137
7   Ryan Briscoe         132
8   Tony Kanaan          129
9   Vitor Meira          101
10  Raphael Matos        98
11  Dan Wheldon          98
12  Alex Tagliani        96
13  Marco Andretti       95
14  Mario Moraes         95
15  Mike Conway          94
16  Danica Patrick       86
17  Hideki Mutoh         72
18  Ernesto Viso         70
19  Mario Romancini      66
20  Simona de Silvestro  65
21  Alex Lloyd           60
22  Takuma Sato          60
23  Milka Duno           56
24  Graham Rahal         47
25  Bertrand Baguette    36
26  John Andretti        22
27  Ana Beatriz          17
28  Sarah Fisher         13
29  Jay Howard           10

Next race

Just a note that the next IndyCar event isn’t until May 30 – when it’s the Big One, the Indianapolis 500.

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