IndyCar’s Bourdais, Dixon, RHR grab Petit Le Mans podiums

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The extra Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that got to race at the Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda this weekend had mixed results in the 10-hour enduro.

Three of the four returning extras – Sebastien Bourdais, Scott Dixon and Ryan Hunter-Reay – made it onto their respective class podiums.

Bourdais led a portion of the middle stint of the race in the polesitting No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP, but eventually would finish second with co-drivers, and Prototype class champions, Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa.

Dixon, in a rare available offseason weekend, shared the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-Ford with full season drivers Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas en route to a third place finish overall and in the P class.

Meanwhile Hunter-Reay helped play a role in Kuno Wittmer securing the GT Le Mans class championship. “RHR” shared the No. 91 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R with Wittmer and Marc Goossens as the trio finished third in class.

Meanwhile for Ryan Briscoe, who drove in both of Corvette Racing’s C7.Rs, the championship-contending No. 3 car got taken out in a pit accident and the No. 4 car ended fourth.

Jack Hawksworth, who scored the Prototype Challenge class pole for RSR Racing, ended fourth in the No. 08 car he shared with Chris Cumming and Rusty Mitchell. Mitchell had two spins, which halted the car’s progress.

Briscoe and Hawksworth have yet to confirm their 2015 IndyCar programs, although it’s likely both will land somewhere on the grid.

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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