Gambler Franchitti Wins Big in Chicago In a night filled with sudden changes of fortune, Dario Franchitti's Target Chip Ganassi Racing team rolled the dice during the final round of pit stops, electing to make a fuel-only stop to move to the...
Gambler Franchitti Wins Big in Chicago
In a night filled with sudden changes of fortune, Dario Franchitti's Target Chip Ganassi Racing team rolled the dice during the final round of pit stops, electing to make a fuel-only stop to move to the head of the lead pack, and came up with "double sixes" as Franchitti went on to score his third IZOD IndyCar Series race victory of 2010 Saturday night at Chicagoland Speedway.
The victory - Franchitti's 26th in CART and IndyCar competition, tying him with the great Roger Ward for 11th on the all-time win list - also more than halved his deficit to championship leader Will Power, moving him within 23 points of the lead with three races remaining. All of Franchitti's major open-wheel racing victories have been scored using Honda power, with tonight's extending his record as Honda's most successful North American open-wheel racer.
Meanwhile Power, who had been in the thick of the lead battle for most of tonight's 300-mile contest, was forced to pit for additional fuel with just a handful of laps remaining, dropping him to a 16th-place finish.
Much of the first half of the 200-lap race was dominated by Ryan Briscoe, who led a race-high 113 laps before being forced high and out of the racing groove during the frenetic final laps, dropping him to 11th at the checkers.
But problems for Briscoe and Power were offset by dramatic drives from the likes of Dan Wheldon, who served as Franchitti's "drafting partner" in the closing laps and finished second, his best result since May's Indianapolis 500. Marco Andretti also equaled his Indy 500 finish with a strong third-place result; while Vitor Meira recovered from two separate on-track incidents - both requiring unscheduled pit stops for nose wing replacement - to finish ninth, his best result since Iowa in June.
Next week, the IZOD IndyCar Series continues its run of season-closing oval races as the championship fight heads south to the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway oval for the Kentucky Indy 300 on Saturday, September 4.
Dario Franchitti (#10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) started 2nd, finished 1st, 3rd IndyCar win of 2010, closes to within 23 points of championship leader Will Power with three races remaining: "I'm delighted right now, [engineer] Chris Simmons made a brilliant call at our last pit stop. Our car was great in clean air, but we really struggled in traffic. After Chris made the call [for fuel only], I got a lot of help from Dan Wheldon, he worked with me as a drafting partner right up until the end. We made up a lot of ground [in the championship] tonight, but we have to keep going. This team never gives up, that's what makes it great."
Dan Wheldon (#4 Panther Racing Honda) started 7th, finished 2nd: "To be honest, the reason I worked so hard with Dario and just tried to stay with him was because he was so clean and professional. Our guys did an excellent job and it was a great performance tonight. I have to thank my team and the fans, who were definitely on their feet at the end of the race tonight. It was an exciting race."
Marc Sours (General Manager, Honda Performance Development) on tonight's race: "I think it was an exciting race, remarkably clean, and the record-11 different race leaders just demonstrates the level of competition throughout the field. With three races remaining, the championship is coming down to the wire yet again, so we're looking forward to an exciting run to the title."
-source: honda racing