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Dixon’s Texas victory gives him points lead for the first time in 2018

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As the Verizon IndyCar Series enters an off weekend after a busy stretch that included activity for no fewer than five consecutive weekends, the championship standings see a familiar face at the top.

Four-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon surged to the top of the championship after winning Saturday’s night’s DXC Technology 600, his second in three races – he won Race 1 of the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit as well – which helped propel him to his first championship lead of 2018.

Dixon’s start to the 2018 season is actually similar in multiple areas to the start of his 2015 season, the year of his most recent title. That year, Dixon left the Indianapolis 500 with two podiums (a win in Long Beach, and third place at Barber Motorsports Park) to his name through six races, placing him third in the championship.

The 2018 season also saw Dixon leave the Indy 500 with two podiums to his name (second at the INDYCAR Grand Prix, and third at the Indy 500), which left him fourth in the standings.

Like in 2015, his Texas Motor Speedway triumph was his second win of the season. And in 2015, it helped spark a title run. Given that his 2018 victory vaulted him into the championship lead for the first time this year, another title run could be beckoning.

Still, the always understated Dixon isn’t nearly ready to talk championship yet.

“It’s not bad. But it’s going to be hard to hold onto,” he said of leading the points standings at this stage of the season. “We’ll see how the next races go. The car has had good speed all season and we’ll try to keep it going.”

Dixon, with 357 points, leads Alexander Rossi by 33. Will Power, who crashed with Zachary Claman De Melo on Saturday night, fell to third, 36 points behind Dixon. Ryan Hunter-Reay and Josef Newgarden sit fourth and fifth, 49 and 68 points back respectively.

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Indy 500 analyst role part of looking forward for Danica Patrick

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It’s been 10 months since Danica Patrick last competed in an auto racing event and she is completely fine with that.

Patrick was last seen in a cockpit in last May’s Indianapolis 500, part of her mini-retirement tour from racing that also included a run in the Daytona 500.

Now she’ll be back at the track, serving as an analyst for NBC’s broadcast of the 103rd Indy 500 on May 26.

It will be an interlude to her post-racing career.

“I really don’t miss racing,” Patrick said during a teleconference Wednesday.  “I’m really happy. I selfishly set out (with) the intention I wanted to travel a lot. I’ve definitely done that. Also working on my other businesses.”

Without racing, Patrick is able to look over her “Warrior” clothing line and her Somnium wine. She’s also been a host of ESPN’s Espy Awards show.

“I’m not a look-back kind of person, I’m a look-forward (person),” Patrick said. “This is something that’s part of looking forward. This is something totally new and different for me. It’s coming at a place where I have a lot of history, but it hasn’t been my job, which is why I’m going to work really hard to make sure I’m ready, like anything else I do that’s different.

Since retiring, Patrick said she watches racing “when I can.”

“I’m not going to lie, I’m happy doing what I’m doing,” Patrick said. “It’s allowed me new opportunities like this.”

This won’t be the first time Patrick has served in an analyst role for a race. She did the same for some Xfinity Series race broadcasts in the last few years of her NASCAR career.

“It’s very good to have had that experience,” Patrick said. “Obviously I was giving my driving experience sort of perspective and that insight, which is something I’m going to be doing again. But it was a guest spot.

“This is firm and established, part of a small team of two with Mike (Tirico) and I. I think there’s going to be a lot more preparation involved, I’m going to need to know a lot more information.”

Patrick said there will be one difference in her Indy 500 experience this year compared to the eight times she competed in the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

“I didn’t purposely look at the buildup of the day,” Patrick said. “I didn’t want to see the fans rolling in, all the pomp and circumstance. I really liked to keep it quiet. I wanted to just walk out there and have it be the event, not let myself get built up too much in my head with nerves, just the platform, the iconic event that it was, the millions of people. I just wanted to stay focused and go do it.

“This time, I’m sure I will see the buildup. I’m sure I’ll see the place fill in and turn from a quiet, peaceful, magical place, (and) at the shot of a cannon it’s going to start unraveling. That will be a cool perspective for me that I purposely haven’t really watched closely.”

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