Jonny Kane was motoring to an easy victory Sunday in the Dayton Indy Lights race at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Kane, an Irishman driving for Barry Green, had led all the way and was three seconds ahead of Pac West driver Scott Dixon of New Zealand with only six laps of the 38-lap, 75-mile race left.
Then, back in the pack, rookie Todd Snyder drove into a tire barrier and brought out the yellow caution flag, racing's great equalizer.
Dixon closed up on Kane during the caution period, then pressured him on the restart down the front straight with four laps left and delightedly watched as Kane drove too hard into Turn 1. Unable to carry his speed, Kane took to the runoff area and Dixon drove smoothly into the lead and the victory.
"I went down the inside [on the restart], threw him a dummy [faked a pass] and then pulled back," Dixon said of his move. "I knew I couldn't get past him but he was carrying a lot of speed and when I saw he couldn't make the turn, I said, 'Whoo!' "
Said Kane, "I tried to defend down the inside into Turn 1 and I locked up the front tires. . . . It's not nice when you make a mistake. Driver error."
Kane was able to get back into the running but had to settle for sixth place.
Dixon, second here a year ago, finished comfortably ahead of Australian Jason Bright in the series opener of CART's driver development series. Brazilian Felipe Giaffone, who was leading last year's race until he ran out of fuel in the closing laps, was third.
In the other supporting race, the Johnson Controls Trans-Am for sports coupes, Tomy Drisi of Hollywood drove his Ford Mustang through heavy late carnage and claimed a three-second victory over the Chevy Camaro driven by former Indy car driver Willy T. Ribbs.
Paul Gentilozzi, who started second, made an inside pass of pole-sitter Brian Simo heading into Turn 9 on the first lap and appeared poised to run away with the race until his Jaguar started smoking on Lap 28 and he dropped back to fourth place.