FONTANA, Calif. (September 15, 2012) – Target Chip Ganassi Racing (TCGR) drivers Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon finished second and third, respectively, in the MavTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway on Saturday night.
Franchitti rolled off the grid in ninth place to begin Saturday’s race and for the first stint of the event remained in the top-10. On lap 111, the No. 10 Target car stopped for fresh tires and fuel and came off pit road in fifth-place. After another solid pit stop on lap 183 from the TCGR team, Franchitti left pit lane in second place next to front runner Dixon. The Target cars ran side-by-side with 54 laps to go. Shortly after another restart following a caution, Franchitti took the lead with 12 laps to go, pacing the race for 15 laps. He was in the lead with six laps to go, when a red flag was displayed. Ed Carpenter took the lead from Franchitti just before the final caution flag of the race flew, leaving the No. 10 team with a runner-up finish.
After his qualifying run left him fifth on Friday afternoon, Dixon started Saturday night’s 250-lap race in 15th-place after serving a 10-spot grid penalty for an engine change. At the start of the race, Dixon settled into the top-10 running order, remaining there for the opening 67 laps. The No. 9 Target Honda hit pit road for the second time under caution on lap 75, returning to the track in sixth. On lap 86, Dixon made his way into the top- three. He continued to fight his way toward the front, eventually taking the lead on lap 123. Dixon led the race for 25 laps, until he was overtaken by Tony Kanaan on lap 143. On lap 225, Dixon pitted for the last time from fifth place. With nine laps to go, the race was red-flagged for a lengthy clean up following an accident. After the final restart, Dixon moved up to finish in third place.
With the results, Dixon finished third in the IZOD IndyCar Series Championship point standings with 435 points, -33 points behind 2012 IndyCar Series Champion Ryan Hunter-Reay. Franchitti moved up two sports to finish seventh with 363 points (-105 points behind Hunter-Reay).
Dario Franchitti: “We have to focus a little bit on everything this off season. The team, myself and Honda all need to improve and get a bit more consistent. We’ll have a busy winter here for everyone on the Target team trying to improve for next season. But any year you can win Indy and finish one-two is a good year. Today in qualifying the car just had a lot of oversteer in turns one and two and I thought I was in the fence. The same thing happened this morning and we thought we fixed it. It snapped way out of line and I managed to catch it but I had to lift and that was that.”
Scott Dixon: “It was a good night. Our car was good, especially that start in the middle was fairly strong, but we faded a little bit towards the end there and once we hit traffic it wasn’t as good as what I had been. We worked hard at it, I got a little loose towards the end there. Congrats to Ed, he had a hell of a race the whole night, and Hunter-Reay keeping his head screwed on and taking the championship. It was getting pretty close on points there towards the end, but he did it. I feel for Will, he definitely dominated the season, but that’s really tough to take. We’re excited for next year, the Target cars will be back strong. Hopefully we can win a championship.”
Source: Chip Ganassi Racing