Scott Dixon said his Kansas victory came as a massive relief as he had begun to fear a repeat of his disastrous 2004 title defence.
The win ended a brief season-opening slump for Dixon, the defending IndyCar Series champion, who was classified 15th at St Petersburg having crashed out following contact with Hideki Mutoh, and then 16th at Long Beach last week after being hit by Ryan Briscoe under yellow.
Dixon came into Sunday's race 17th in the standings, but left in fourth place.
"We needed something," Dixon said. "We needed a sniff of anything because all we'd had was a sniff of the back of the field. That's frustrating."
He admitted that his poor start to the year had been reminiscent of the 2004 season, which he began as champion but which saw him fail to win a race and take just one podium as Ganassi's then engine supplier Toyota fell behind Honda.
"I was starting to look back to 2004 and how we had a miserable season after we won the championship," Dixon said. "I knew the team could do it; we just needed to get everything right."
Yesterday's win was Dixon's first at Kansas, a 1.5-mile tri-oval at which he had qualified well but never finished better than third.
"A lot of people have told me this place owed me one," Dixon said. "It's nice that right at the time we needed it, Kansas gave us some payback."
He added that while he was not a fan of the large ovals, he was delighted with a result that put him back in the championship race and made a statement in the final race before next month's Indianapolis 500.
"Road courses and street courses are my favourite races, and to start off the season with two DNFs at street races has been frustrating," Dixon said.
"It hurts you in many areas - the spot in pitlane, for example. I'm very happy.
"The win catapulted us to fourth in the championship. We're still within a shot to win the championship, and we're definitely strong going into Indy."