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Frontstretch Breakdown: 2008 Indianapolis 500

*In A Nutshell:* Scott Dixon took the pole for this race, his latest assertion that he is the driver to beat this year; and heading into the Indy 500, he gave no one any reason to think differently. Several drivers took turns at the front of the biggest event in open-wheel racing -- including teammate Dan Wheldon, Tony Kanaan, and Marco Andretti -- but Dixon always lurked right behind them. His No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing crew did their job and put him out in front on the final stop of the day; and while second place Vitor Meira tried to mount a challenge, ultimately the speed Dixon showed all month carried him to the win. Meira held onto second, followed by Marco Andretti, Helio Castroneves, and Ed Carpenter to round out the Top 5. *Who Should Have Won: Scott Dixon.* Did you get the sense that this was Dixon’s game and he just let the others play for awhile?

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Giving Danica Patrick Her Due… and Nothing More

Congratulations to Danica Patrick for winning her first IRL race! After three years, fifty starts, and three podium finishes prior to Saturday's Twin Ring Motegi 300, her arrival in Victory Lane has long been awaited. Altogether now: three cheers for Danica! There. Are we done patting the little lady on the back? No, don't go getting your knickers all knotted up. Believe me, this accomplishment cannot be dismissed as unimportant. But I don't believe it is truly the hallmark in auto racing that much of the planet wants it to be; and to be honest, I could care less that Danica is one of the fairer sex. She has competed with some of the best drivers in the world and won... Period.

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Open Wheel Reunification: A Lesson For NASCAR, Too!

One of the biggest U.S. motorsports stories of the last two decades occurred late last month, with the announcement that the Indy Racing League (IRL) and the Champ Car Word Series (CCWS) had agreed to merge. The news, however, garnered little more than a cursory nod from the stock car community which seems reluctant to even acknowledge that there is another form of racing in this country, let alone one that outshined NASCAR for many years back in the day. But if the newly invigorated IRL plays its cards right, auto racing enthusiasts will begin, en masse, to pay attention once again towards an open wheel series based in the United States. Of course, the key for the IRL in rebuilding the series to prominence in large part will be to pattern themselves after their brethren in American auto racing … NASCAR. There are also lessons that can be learned as a result of the nasty split in 1995 between the IRL and CART; ones that not only the IRL should never forget, but also that NASCAR should make note of moving forward.

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Leilani Munter Makes Short Work of Steep Learning Curve

When racecar driver Leilani Munter made the move from stock cars to Indy cars a few months ago, she expected to face her share of challenges. Attacking the new opportunity with characteristic enthusiasm and intelligence, Munter has proven herself a quick study with great racing instincts. Leilani had an impressive debut last month in the Indy Pro Car series at Kentucky Speedway, driving for Sam Schmidt Motorsports in the #57 SMART Papers/Lucas Oil car. After turning in a 192.399 MPH qualifying lap, Munter demonstrated her ability to quickly pass cars and make her way toward the front. "I had a bad restart and dropped all the way back to 13th, but I raced my way back up to the front and was setting up to pass for fourth place, when the two guys in front of me touched wheels and I was collected in the mess."

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Best of Bowles-Eye View: Paul Dana’s Death Cruel Reminder For NASCAR Family

Truth be told, Paul Dana was not a household name in motorsports; at least, not yet. Putting aside his former career as a journalist to pursue his dream, the 30-year-old was preparing for just his first full season on the IRL circuit, quietly landing a deal with one of the best teams in Rahal Letterman Motorsports. He'd be teammates with budding superstar Danica Patrick and Indy 500 winner Buddy Rice, even with a resume of just three previous IRL starts.

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