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Dixon ready to chase 2nd Indianapolis 500 win
At Indianapolis, it’s a given.
At Pocono, it’s a whole new thrill. When the open wheel series returns to Pocono Raceway for the first time since 1989, the 400-mile race will start with cars running three across.
For most drivers, the whole Pocono show will be a new experience. IndyCar’s July 7 race will be the first one on the three-turn track since 1989. Three-wide racing should only add to the drama.
“That’s pretty crazy, man,” Dixon said Monday. “You’ve just got to be smart. I hope it’s not a disaster.”
More than anything, Dixon hopes to return to Pocono as the 2013 Indianapolis 500 champion. Dixon, who won the Indy 500 in 2008, and Ryan Briscoe were in Philadelphia to promote Sunday’s race, as well as IndyCar’s return to Pocono.
Dixon also is sharing the starting row with Franchitti and Takuma Sato. It’s a bit of a fortuitous grouping after the three raced hard down the stretch for a thrilling ending to last year’s race. Sato spun and lost control on the final lap as he chased Franchitti for the lead. Franchitti zipped past Sato and held off Dixon for the 1-2 finish for Chip Ganassi Racing.
“It was all calm and quite steady when it was just me and Dario,” Dixon said. “Obviously, it got a bit crazy when Sato started in. It would be another great race for us if it’s us three racing there at the end again.”
Franchitti also led Honda back into Victory Lane _ a trend almost as common in Indy as the winner’s swig of milk. But Honda was crushed this year in qualifying. Starting with pole winner Ed Carpenter, Chevys claimed the top 10 spots.
“It’s been tough,” Dixon said. “I think Honda closed the gap a little bit from last year’s qualifying. I think the consistency of all the Chevys has definitely stepped up, and that’s why you didn’t see any Honda’s in the fast nine. Qualifying, I don’t really mind. It’s the race you want to be strong in. I don’t know. I guess Ryan and I are just hoping they’re holding something back.”
Briscoe had been out of an IndyCar ride all season before he latched on with Chip Ganassi Racing. He hoped perhaps a good showing in Indy will lead to something bigger. But he’ll start 23rd in the 33-car field.
“I’d like to be adding more races, but we don’t have anything at this point,” Briscoe said.
At least Briscoe was at IMS and able to watch all of qualifying. The final round of Indy 500 qualifying was pre-empted, leaving racing fans scrambling to find other ways to follow the results.
“Everybody’s trying to do their best,” Dixon said. “TV is the biggest problem right now, to be honest. It’s hard to get people to watch something if they can’t get it or don’t know where it was.”
By Tom Fitton
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