By Allan Brewer, IndyCar Correspondent
- Franchitti claims 2nd 2011 win
- Teammate Dixon takes runner up spot
- Kanaan draws pole for race 2
Ganassi Racing’s Dario Franchitti won the first of two Firestone Twin 275 races at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday night, leading 110 of the 114 laps en route to his second IndyCar series victory of the year.
The initial Twin 275 went off smoothly for the first 242 miles, with drivers exercising care not to end a two-race night of competition earlier than planned. Ganassi Racing’s Charlie Kimball and fellow rookie Wade Cunningham, in the Sam Schmidt Motorsports car driven to victory in the Indy 500 by Dan Wheldon, made contact emerging from the obtuse final turn of the 1.5 mile speedway on Lap 94 bringing out the only yellow flag of the contest.
On the restart, Franchitti jumped to the front ahead of Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon, Will Power of Penske Racing, Sam Schmidt Motorsports’ Alex Tagliani, and Penske Racing’s Helio Castroneves. The ten lap sprint that followed saw Franchitti, Dixon, Power and Tagliani dueling nose to tail until the finish with the Scot bringing the No. 10 Huggies car home the winner by only five one hundredths of a second.
The win was Franchitti’s career 28th IndyCar series victory, and his first at Texas Motor Speedway. Franchitti’s previous best of the 2011 campaign was his win at the St Petersburg, Florida season opener.
“I was able to get the lead at the start,” he said afterwards. “The biggest problem was traffic. When I had clear air the car handled well, but the car was really sliding around there at the end.”
Dixon finished second, and Power took the final spot on the podium.
“It was hot and it was intense out there,” said Power, who leads the IndyCar championship points race for the year. “We had a good car and I’m glad to have a top 3 finish again.”
Tagliani was fourth after starting from pole, and KV Racing Lotus Racing’s Takuma Sato finished fifth.
A novel random draw for pole in the second race put veteran Tony Kanaan in the No. 82 KV Racing Lotus entry onto the first spot on the grid for the final Firestone Twin 275. Cunningham, moving to a backup car, chose the outside position on the front row to start race two.
Power began the nightcap in the third spot. Dixon slotted into the 18th position and Franchitti was left as the last driver to draw with the 28th starting position.