- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 28, 2009

RICHMOND | Scott Dixon grabbed the lead from teammate Dario Franchitti on pit road midway through the race and went on to earn his 19th career IndyCar Series victory, tying Sam Hornish Jr.’s series record.

Dixon and Franchitti, teammates with Target Chip Ganassi Racing, started on the front row and stayed there all night, benefiting from a one-groove race track that made passing difficult, and from their own patience as most everyone else made green-flag pit stops.

Twice they held out just long enough - watching most of the field head down pit road as the field zipped by under a green flag - and got the yellow flags that made it pay off.

Andretti-Green Racing teammates Hideki Mutoh and Danica Patrick would likely have been poised to battle for the victory after out-of-sequence stops much later in the race, but needed green-flag racing over the last 80 laps.

It didn’t happen.

Helio Castroneves scraped the wall on lap 247 of 300, bringing out the last caution that rescued the leaders. Graham Rahal finished a season-best third, followed by teammates Mutoh and Patrick.

The race was especially costly for Team Penske, which arrived with Ryan Briscoe leading the points and Castoneves fourth, and had both taken out of the running by crashes.

Briscoe spun out on just the 27th circuit, and he wound up 19th out of 20 cars, while Castroneves was running in the top seven when he crashed late. He wound up 17th.

Franchitti, who won this race and the series championship two years ago before a brief dalliance with NASCAR, moved past Briscoe and into the points lead, one ahead of Dixon.

The finish was all about timing during the race and the inability to pass.

Dixon grabbed the lead on pit road after Mike Conway crashed on the 137th circuit. He was followed back onto the track by Franchitti, Rahal, Mutoh and Patrick.

“Once Scott got ahead, we tried our best to pass him, but we couldn’t get it done,” Franchitti said. “Nobody could pass. … Everybody was out there hanging on.”

The AGR teammates hoped their last green-flag stops - Mutoh on lap 214, Patrick on 226 - would set them up to outlast the leaders if the racing stayed green.

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