LONG POND, Pa. – Indy car racing returned to Pocono Raceway after a 23-year absence and Target Chip Ganassi Racing (TCGR) driver Scott Dixon earned his 30th career victory while teammate Dario Franchitti finished third in Round 11 of the IZOD IndyCar Series in the Pocono INDYCAR 400.
Dixon started the race in the middle of the sixth row after qualifying the No. 9 Target Honda seventh, but due to a 10-grid penalty for an engine change, started 17th. The first caution of the day came out in turn one of lap one of the 160-lap race for an accident. Dixon was able to avoid any contact and moved his way up to 14th on a lap-six restart. By lap 19, Dixon in 11th had become the biggest mover of the race.
The No. 9 car made its way up to 10th before its first pit of the day on lap 34. Under a full course caution, Dixon pit on lap 65 and moved up to sixth on the restart. The No. 9 car passed one more car to hold fifth until it took the lead following the pit stop cycle. Dixon was able to stay out in the lead before he pit on lap 100 and had a quick stop that helped him return to the race and keep the point.
Tony Kanaan passed the No. 9 car for the lead on lap 110 but made contact with the back of Dixon’s left rear. Although no damage was done to the No. 9 car, the team dropped back to third to conserve fuel. Dixon held on to third with 29 laps to go, and pit for a final time and took the lead with 27 laps to go. The No. 9 team was able to maintain that lead until the checkered flag to finish first and score the 100th win for the Target Racing Program.
Franchitti started the race in the middle of the seventh row after qualifying the No. 10 Energizer Honda 18th, but due to an unapproved engine change he started 20th. The No. 10 team moved up two spots to 18th after a lap-six restart, and then passed four cars to 14th.
The No. 10 car struggled with understeer in the middle of the race through turn three and the middle of turn one, especially in traffic. The No. 10 car then entered pit lane for its first stop of the day for a front wing and tire pressure adjustment and returned to the race in 12th. By lap 60, Franchitti held his ground in 12th. Under a full course caution the No. 10 car pit on lap 65 and moved up to eighth on the restart.
The No. 10 ran in seventh and held its ground while the leaders began to slow to conserve fuel. After Franchitti’s final stop, with the leaders conserving fuel, he took advantage and with 25 laps to go moved up to third. The No. 10 car maintained third position to score the double-podium finish.
With the results, Dixon moved up three spots to fourth in the IZOD IndyCar Series point standings with 291 markers, -65 points behind leader Helio Castroneves. Franchitti moved one spot to 11th with 237 markers, -119 points back.
Honda is second in the manufacturer point standings with 78 points, trailing Chevrolet with 87.
Up next for Team Target are Rounds 12 and 13 of the IZOD IndyCar Series with the Honda Indy Toronto from Toronto, Ontario on Saturday, July 13th (3:00pm ET, NBC Sports) and Sunday, July 14th
Chip Ganassi: “When I got out of bed this morning, I wouldn’t have guessed this. I actually forgot that the next win would have been our 100th; it’s been so long since we’ve had a win. It’s a really great place to do it….in Pennsylvania too, in my home state. It’s great for the series to have a 1-2-3 (finish) and Honda. You know, Honda needed a boost, and they stepped up and did a great job. The drivers did a great job and the team did a great job.”
Scott Dixon: “Going into this morning, I was not thinking we could win. The team definitely hasn’t given up, and you’ve got to hand it to Honda as well. I think fuel mileage was the key today. And we still had speed up front without having to save all the time. I don’t know what to say. It’s the 100th win for Target as well, which is just fantastic. I’m just so happy. I love this place. Pocono, the fans, just everyone has been fantastic. It’s great to be back. It’s been a long drought, almost a year, so it’s fantastic to be back in winner’s circle.”
Dario Franchitti: “We went for a very aggressive setup, with very low down force. When I would get some kind of gap, I could run some fast laps. The Honda today, it’s so good on fuel mileage, and that really, really helped us. I could catch back up to Charlie in spots, but I couldn’t do anything with him because of the aggressive setup we ran.”
Chip Ganassi Racing