Starworks’ Dalziel and Popow take GRAND-AM Brickyard GP

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For the second straight year, Starworks Motorsport came out on top at the Brickyard Grand Prix as drivers Ryan Dalziel (pictured, right) and Alex Popow (pictured, left) drove the No. 2 BMW/Riley to victory on Friday evening at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

With nine and a half minutes left in the three-hour race around the 2.53-mile IMS road course, Dalziel took the lead for good after Formula One and IndyCar veteran Rubens Barrichello was forced to pit the No. 77 Doran Racing Ford/Dallara for a splash of fuel (he and co-driver Doug Peterson eventually settled for fifth). Dalziel went on to a 3.438-second victory over Scott Pruett in the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing BMW/Riley.

The win also puts Dalziel and Popow on top of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series’ Daytona Prototype class standings. They now lead by ten points, 229-219, over the No. 99 Bob Stallings Racing duo of Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, who took third place this evening.

“This is what we needed – five races to go, we had to start winning races,” Dalziel told MRN Radio after the win. “…We’ll see how the next four go, but today’s a good day.”

Pruett and Memo Rojas’ runner-up finish was enough to give themselves the North American Endurance Championship DP title, which nets them a $100,000 bonus prize. In addition to today’s race, the NAEC included the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Sahlen’s Six Hours of Watkins Glen.

The NAEC crown should be a boost to the Ganassi camp after what’s been an up-and-down year so far for their full-time regulars Pruett and Rojas, the defending DP class champions in the Rolex Series.

“For us to come back after some pretty ugly races and win the North American Endurance Championship is huge for us,” Pruett told MRN. “We’re just gonna see if we can keep on going.”

In the GT class, Jeff Segal and Indy 500 veteran Max Papis earned top honors in the No. 61 R.Ferri/AIM Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia, ahead of the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro of John Edwards and Robin Liddell. Like Pruett and Rojas in DP, the second-place showing from Edwards and Liddell was enough for them to lock up the NAEC GT crown.

Sylvain Tremblay and Tom Long brought home the GX class win in the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda, but runner-up Dr. Jim Norman (No. 38 BGB Motorsports Porsche) clinched the NAEC GX title.

Reigning Indy 500 champ Tony Kanaan finished ninth with co-driver Joey Hand in the No. 02 Ganassi BMW/Riley, which made him tops among the three drivers in the field that have competed in the IZOD IndyCar Series this year. A.J. Allmendinger was 10th for Michael Shank Racing, and Sebastien Bourdais was 11th for 8Star Motorsports.

March 29 in Motorsports History: Scott Dixon wins first race after reunification

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Reunited and it felt so good.

That’s what drivers likely thought before the 2008 IndyCar opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

For the first time since 1995, major-league open-wheel racing in the United States was under the banner of a sole sanctioning body as Champ Car and the Indy Racing Leauge had reunified just a month prior.

Scott Dixon celebrates after winning the 2008 IndyCar opener at Homestead. Photo: Jim Hines/IndyCar.

The first race after reunification also saw a reversal of fortunes for Scott Dixon, who won the race after losing the 2007 IRL championship in crushing fashion.

In the 2007 season finale at Chicagoland Speedway, Dixon ran out of fuel while leading on the final lap of the race. The race victory – and championship – went to Dixon’s future teammate, Dario Franchitti.

But the tides turned for Dixon nearly seven months later, and the Kiwi was able to win with the help of another driver’s misfortune.

Tony Kanaan was leading with seven laps remaining when E.J. Viso spun and made contact with Kanaan’s car. Kanaan remained on track through the caution period despite suffering obvious damage to his right front suspension.

On the final restart with three laps remaining, Dixon and others cars easily passed Kanaan’s wounded car on the outside. Dixon then maintained his lead through the checkered flag to win at Homestead for the second time in his career.

“I think Marco (Andretti) and T.K. probably had a little bit better cars today, but we came through with the win, and that’s what counts,” Dixon told ESPN after his 12th career victory.

Following his victory at Homestead, Dixon continued to redeem himself through the course of the 2008 season. In May, he won the Indianapolis 500 for the first (and so far only) time. Following Indy, he went on to win four more times in 2008 and won his second series championship.

Also on this date:

1998: Mika Hakkinen won the Grand Prix of Brazil, the first of eight victories in his first championship season.

2010: Will Power won the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which was held on a Monday morning because of rain postponing the race on Sunday.

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