Dixon’s still a Barber bridesmaid

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Scott Dixon has a rather sizable trophy case, which features a “Baby Borg” for his 2008 Indianapolis 500 win and two IZOD IndyCar Series championships. But the addition of a winner’s trophy from Barber Motorsports Park will have to wait another year.

For the fourth consecutive season, Dixon came up just one spot short at the Alabama road course. In 2010, he chased Helio Castroneves to the checkered flag. Then in 2011 and 2012, it was Will Power that kept him from the top spot on the podium. And today, it was Ryan Hunter-Reay who held him off in this year’s running in Alabama.

“Our car was very quick, but clearly I have to go out and buy a bridesmaid’s dress tonight,” said Dixon, who moved to second in the championship behind Helio Castroneves (who finished third in the race).

After qualifying fourth on Saturday, Dixon fell back a couple of spots while avoiding contact with Will Power at the start of the race. But he managed to hang around the top five and found himself sitting in third position after his final stop at Lap 65. Then on Lap 77 — one lap after Hunter-Reay had passed Castroneves for the lead — Dixon got by the Brazilian for second position and attempted to cut into RHR’s advantage.

Unfortunately for him, he could only halve it and lost out to Hunter-Reay by six-tenths of a second at the finish.

“Spending so much time in traffic, especially in the middle part of the race, hurt us,” said Dixon. “It left us with too much ground to make up after the final round of pit stops.”

Still, Dixon salvaged the day for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, whose other driver, Dario Franchitti, was forced to bow out after 42 laps due to a broken header on his machine.

MRTI: pre-season testing Day 2 notebook

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Day 2 of testing for the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires saw two series hit the Homestead-Miami Speedway road course for pre-season testing. The Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda both got their turns on Saturday after the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires took to the 1.5-mile oval on Friday.

Both series got in two sessions apiece during the day. Below are quick reports for Pro Mazda and USF2000.

Pro Mazda: Thompson, Askew Lead Opening Sessions

A pair of USF2000 graduates led the two sessions for Pro Mazda. In Session 1, it was Parker Thompson and Exclusive Autosport leading the way, while Cape Motorsports’ Oliver Askew, last year’s USF2000 champion, led the way in Session 2. Times from both sessions are below.

Juncos Racing’s Rinus VeeKay, last year’s runnerup in the USF2000 championship, also put in a strong showing, ending up second in Session 2.

This was also the first official session for the brand new Tatuus PM-18, and it’s first official outing showed off quite a bit of speed. Lap times were reportedly upwards of four seconds a lap faster than the previous Elan Pro Mazda chassis.

USF2000: Pabst Racing, Cape Motosports Lead the Way

The teams that battled for last year’s USF2000 crown, Cape Motorsports and Pabst Racing, traded early blows during Saturday testing, with each team leading a session.

Pabst Racing’s Rasmus Lindh led the way in Session 1, with four Pabst cars in the top five, while Kyle Kirkwood led Session 2 for Cape. Times from both sessions are below.

However, it should be noted that DEForce Racing’s Kory Enders spent most of Session 2 at the top of the speed charts before getting pushed down to third late in the running. With the top three finishers from last year’s USF2000 championship all moving on to Pro Mazda (Askew, VeeKay, and Thompson), this USF2000 season could be anyone’s for the taking.

Of note, Keith Donegan, who signed with ArmsUp Motorsports after winning the $200K scholarship from Mazda Motorsports in November’s Mazda Road to Indy Shootout, was 16th in Session 1, but did not turn laps in Session 2.