Dario Franchitti Gives Team Target Back-to-Back IndyCar Titles
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (October 11, 2009) - Target Chip Ganassi Racing claimed their seventh open wheel crown Saturday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway as Dario Franchitti drove his No. 10 Target Honda Dallara to his fifth win of the season, locking up the 2009 IndyCar Series championship in the final race of the season.
It marks the second IndyCar championship for Franchitti (2007), who returned to Indy car racing this year after a season in NASCAR with Ganassi. Teammate Scott Dixon finished third in the race, locking up second in the championship standings for a Team Target one-two sweep.
Along the way, Franchitti (five) and Dixon (five) combined to win 10 of 17 races this season for Target, who celebrated their 20th year of partnership with TCGR in 2009. The 10-win season ties the team record from the 19-race 1998 CART season, where Alex Zanardi won seven races and Jimmy Vasser took three.
"Back-to-back championships are something very special that don't happen that often in motorsports," said Team Owner Chip Ganassi. "I am really proud of Dario and everything that he has accomplished again this year. It is nothing short of phenomenal. But Dario couldn't do it by himself so I have to congratulate the whole team including his teammate Scott Dixon. It takes a complete team effort to win championships and this championship was exactly that. There are a number of people that work behind the scenes to make things happen and I would just like to thank them all because today they are all champions."
- Overall, it was the team's 74th career open wheel win (CART, IndyCar).
- This was Franchitti's 13th win of his IndyCar Series career and the 23rd in his open-wheel racing career.
- In total, Chip Ganassi Racing Teams now has 115 race wins over open wheel, stock car and sports car racing (1990-Present).
- This was the 34th IndyCar Series victory for TCGR, tying with Andretti Green Racing for No. 2 on the all-time series victory list.
- Franchitti's average speed was 201.420 mph, the second-fastest race in series history. It was the first caution-free race in series history.
- This is the second IndyCar Series championship for Dario Franchitti. He also won the title in 2007.
- Franchitti became the third driver to win multiple IndyCar Series championships. Sam Hornish Jr. leads with three (2001, 2002, 2006), and Dixon has two (2003, 2008).
- This is the third IndyCar Series championship for TCGR. Scott Dixon won the title for the team in 2003 and 2008.
- Franchitti and Dixon finished first and second, respectively in the point standings this season. Franchitti had 616 points, Dixon 605 points. It's the third time in series history that teammates have finished 1-2 in the series standings.
- Franchitti beat Dixon for the IndyCar Series championship by 11 points, 616-605, the third-closest margin in series history.
- This was a career-best fifth victory this season for Franchitti. He won four races en route to the 2007 IndyCar Series season title.
Dario Franchitti: "I can't believe it. I cannot believe it. What a year for this Target team. It was so much fun to be a part of. I've been really lucky my whole career to have a great team. I came over here and raced with AGR for so long and they were great people. Now I'm here at Target and these guys just want to win. Scott (Dixon) and I raced each other the whole season and it just came down to this. I can't thank the team enough and I can't thank Target enough. I'm bloody delighted right now." (About the fuel saving strategy): "We're always trying to go a little farther. The car was a bit imbalanced on the first stint and that allowed Scott and Ryan (Briscoe) to get away a little bit. We made it a lot better the second stint and the car was really good, but by then, we were fuel conservation mode. I was going as fast as I could, but they had me turned down way down."
Scott Dixon: "At the start of the race, I didn't think it would be wise to go out and burn a lot of fuel. It ended being the fact and coming true. You just have to take it on the chin and come back and try again next year. At the end of the year, you'd think the fastest car is going to win, but several times, it hasn't been. I think Briscoe and I had a pretty good race going on, but we got what we got."