IndyCar's Dixon tired of being No. 2 in Alabama
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP)
Scott Dixon is tired of being second-best at Barber Motorsports Park.
Dixon was second for the third straight year in the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, falling a few seconds shy of two-time winner Will Power on Sunday. Three races, three close calls, three goose eggs.
Even if two dozen drivers would gladly trade places, it's getting old.
''The first two years, I was kind of happy with those finishes,'' Dixon said. ''But today to have a dominant race and a car I think definitely if we were out front at the end would have led to the same thing and pulled away from Will.
''It's frustrating when you're in a scenario like that and you don't collect on the win. I'd say the last two years, that was probably kind of as good as we were going to get.''
Dixon was also second to Power's Penske teammate Helio Castroneves in St. Petersburg for the season opener.
He's accustomed to such close calls by now. Dixon now has 28 second-place finishes, passing Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Dario Franchitti into the No. 9 spot in an Indy car.
A couple of issues on three pit road stops cost him precious seconds.
''I believe the middle stop and the last stop we had a bit of a fumble on one of the tires where there was a wheel nut or something,'' Dixon said. ''The middle one took a lot longer. Tires are done normally about the same time as fuel. You feel the fuel pull out and you're still on the air jack.
''On the out-lap I would say Will gained 2 or 3 seconds just because he wasn't in traffic. Then I think they were maybe a little bit quicker on their stop as well. Between that and trying to get out of the pits behind (E.J.) Viso, I'd say we lost 3 or 4 seconds in that, which gave Will the advantage.''
Dixon did earn the two bonus points for the second straight week for most laps led.
Oriol Servia delivered a resilient race, and then an encouraging message to his Lotus DRR team.
Servia started last in the 26-car field but worked his way into a 13th-place finish.
''How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time,'' he told his team upon crossing the finish line. ''Great job guys, we will keep getting there.''
It was a step forward for the Lotus cars. They had a mixed weekend and are still playing catch-up with Honda and Chevrolet. Sebastien Bourdais started 17th and climbed eight spots.
Alex Tagliani was out with mechanical problems before completing a lap. Katherine Legge finished 23rd -five laps down- and Simona de Silvestro was 20th.
Tagliani and Servia were the only two Lotus drivers who were still running at the finish in St. Petersburg. Bourdais, Legge and de Silvestro retired with mechanical problems.
Servia passed JR Hildebrand on Lap 88 to secure his final position.
Lotus DRR used Saturday's qualifying session as a test. He completed eight laps and saved a set of alternate, red tires for the race. Servia only ran seven laps in Friday's first practice session because of an electrical problem, and magnaged to complete only two in the second session because of an engine problem.
SIMON SAYS: Simon Pagenaud has quietly put together two strong performances to open his first season with Schmidt-Hamilton Racing.
The rookie finished fifth Sunday, one spot better than in the season opener, and thinks he had the car to do even better.
''This car was probably the fastest one out there,'' Pagenaud said. ''It's good to see that we can produce such a great job with a one-car team and to fight with the Penske and Ganassi teams.''
He said those two efforts give him plenty of confidence going into Long Beach. Pagenaud started 10th.
''They say you can't pass around here, but I have a few tricks I'm not going to tell anyone,'' he said.
STAYING PUT: IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said he is already talking with track promoter ZOOM Motorsports about a new deal to keep racing at Barber Motorsports Park.
''I'd love to see these guys do another (IndyCar) event,'' Bernard said. The deal has one year remaining after a three-year contract was extended through 2013.
He does have one thing he'd like to see changed with the narrower-than-usual track, which was built as a motorcycle road course.
''We want to talk to them about making sure we have some places to pass,'' Bernard said.
ZOOM President Gene Hallman said he's confident the race will become ''a permanent part of the Alabama sports event calendar.''
It's the only IndyCar event in the Deep South - NASCAR country - every year. ZOOM's contract keeps nearby venues in Atlanta and Nashville from holding races as long as Barber has a race.
INDY LIGHTS: Andretti Autosport's Sebastian Saavedra won the Indy Lights race, leading all 40 laps for his first victory of the season and fourth overall.
Tristan Vautier, the St. Petersburg winner last week for Sam Schmidt Motorsports, was second in the race that ended under caution.