Dixon finds enough room to win

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Brian Hamilton
June 1, 2009
— In the agonizing clutches of traffic, everyone waits.

This is an inexorable truth whether the logjam is on an interstate at rush hour or on a mile-long, rubber-blistered racing oval. Until a sliver of space appears, you wait. Everyone waits.

Of course, when a small gap in the muck presents itself, everyone seizes the sweet relief. And if Scott Dixon could have extricated himself from the pack and into clean air any sooner during the A.J. Foyt 225 on Sunday at the Milwaukee Mile, he would have.

As it happened, Dixon’s best shot was a nerve-jangling but tantalizing chance on Lap 201, when he dared go three-wide to slip past leader Ryan Briscoe, who was working lapped traffic himself. Dixon zipped by and cruised to the win, earning his second IndyCar Series victory of the year and jumping to the overall points lead.

“Luckily for me, my car was fantastic on the high line of (Turns) 1 and 2,” Dixon said. “You get good timing sometimes. Sometimes it bites you in the (rear). It’s a hard track. You have to have a good car in traffic. That’s how the race was won.”

As claustrophobic as the racing was, it was also efficient: Only 22 laps were run under two caution flags, and the overall time—1 hour 38 minutes 44 seconds—was the fastest IndyCar race in Milwaukee Mile history.

Still, nothing decided matters more than how effectively cars navigated the tight quarters.

“It was hard work out there. Traffic was a huge factor,” said Briscoe, who led 154 laps. “Scott was able to line us up and get a good run through the bend and get around me.

“Once he got the lead, he was fast. I couldn’t keep up.”

There was a bit of lingering irritation, though, that race officials didn’t move quicker or more aggressively to move lapped traffic out of the way.

Briscoe laughed at the amount of time he spent behind teammate and Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves, who struggled all day to stay on the lead lap, and the hangup with Tomas Scheckter cost him the lead.

Graham Rahal, who finished fourth, felt he had the pace of the race but struggled to get into position to run with the leaders.

“I think I lapped (Paul) Tracy about five times,” Rahal said. “(E.J.) Viso, the league won’t black-flag the guy. He’s holding me up, and he’s 15 laps down. He’s driving me into the corners as deep as he can go. What’s the point of that? That gets frustrating, but that’s how it goes on these little tracks.”

Said Briscoe: “They could have been more aggressive (with move-along flags).”

The most aggressive move belonged to Dixon, and that made the difference.

“It was just trying to get the right run at the right time,” he said. “If we got clean air, we could get away.”

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