Sunday, July 13, 2008

Dixon Takes Nashville IRL Win - Mid Ohio Next

After another wet weekend, I'm back in Indy following a 687 mile trek to the concrete oval at Nashville Superspeedway. Just call me "Rain Man." Salem, Indy, Mid Ohio. Now Nashville. Everywhere I go the rains seem to follow. This time, the event was effected dramatically when the lightning brought an early finish as the skies opened up to drench us all. This shot is from Dixon's mid-race pit stop when it looked even then like rain might shorten the event.

Scott Dixon's Target team gave him the call too late for a final pit stop, but the blue liveried machine inherited the win after 171 laps when the rains came again, this time in earnest, and ended the day's action. With rumors flying in the local media and at the track that this may be the last IRL visit to Nashville, Scottie D made it a memorable one to take his third straight win at the Tennessee racetrack. While the racing is not typically as heated here as at some of the other larger asphalt ovals, the close calls are numerous every year. Marco got caught out early and spun into Ryan Briscoe's path taking them both out. Everyone trying to pass lapped cars had to take chances they wouldn't ordinarily take to keep pace. But that's normal here. And I guess it's fitting that Dixon has won all three times I've been to Nashville, the last two effected by rain. Tony Kanaan and Danica were the ones most effected by Dixon staying on track, as they pitted around lap 148 for the last time, Dixon did not, then rain came. Wheldon and Helio inherited second and third and seemed quite happy to pick up some additional hardware when the victory "podium" ceremonies were completed in the media room once the race was finally called.

Rains came earlier in the afternoon too - just as the Indy Lights drivers were being called to their cars for their 100 mile race, but the shower was brief and sun and wind got them on track a little after 5 p.m. local time. Ana Beatriz made history becoming the first woman to win an Indy Lights race, which is doubly cool since she's also a Brazilian and everyone knows how quick the Brazilian men seem to be wherever (and whatever) they race. She started outside Row 1 and dropped back early on the newly green racetrack and then drove her way from fourth to first as her main competitors, teammate and pole sitter James Davison, Jeff Simmons and others all ran into problems (or other cars as was the case with Davison). Bobby Wilson and Arie Luyendyk Jr. Followed her home without really mounting much of a challenge as far as I could see.

It was a great weekend all the way around as the drive back today was clear and traffic was moving well. Having a travel companion made it really enjoyable and it was nice to share the passion for this crazy racing game with someone who hasn't experienced it much before. And a special thanks to Don Hamilton and American Motor Journal for helping to make that happen. Next weekend I hit the road again to go back to Mid Ohio for the ALMS and Indycar race weekend, so I guess I better be prepared for rain again. Or maybe I should say the teams should be ready for rain since I'm coming, since rain seems to follow me to every track I'm at this year. Like they even care, eh? I'll take my firesuit next weekend to be sure I can shoot some driver exchanges and pit stops in the ALMS race Saturday too. Last year I got kicked out of the pits but didn't know they required them, since the IRL typically doesn't anymore. Nothing like a wet firesuit and driving boots! Wooo racing!

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