Long Beach: Chip Ganassi Racing race report

Franchitti Wins Long Beach, Takes IndyCar Points Lead to Kansas LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 20, 2009)-Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Dario Franchitti led twice for 51 laps and benefitted from two well-timed pit stops to win the 85-lap Toyota Grand...

Franchitti Wins Long Beach, Takes IndyCar Points Lead to Kansas

LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 20, 2009)-Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Dario Franchitti led twice for 51 laps and benefitted from two well-timed pit stops to win the 85-lap Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The victory was the ninth of Franchitti's IRL career and the 25th for Target Chip Ganassi Racing in the IndyCar Series. Teammate Scott Dixon was taken out of contention while running sixth on lap 75 when he was hit from behind under a caution period.

Franchitti started second but lost two spots in the first turn on the 1.968-mile street course. He moved back up to second on Lap 15 before pitting on Lap 16. The stop for tires and fuel proved to be fortuitous with a full-course caution two laps later. As the rest of the field cycled through pit stops, Franchitti took the lead on Lap 32.

Franchitti benefited from a similar scenario later in the race, pitting under green conditions on Lap 53, one lap before another full-course caution. From that point, Franchitti led the final 29 laps, opening up a lead of several seconds over pole sitter Will Power.

Dixon started sixth and moved up a spot on the opening lap to fifth. On lap 17 he had contact in turn 6 and continued with slight suspension damage. At the halfway mark he was solidly in sixth, but with 10 laps to go was hit from behind by the No.6 car and would finish one lap down in 15th.

With the result, Franchitti takes over the IndyCar Series point lead with 84 markers, 16 over Power (69), while Dixon stands 17th with 29 points.

Up next for the Target team is Round 3 of the IndyCar Series at the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway on Sunday, April 26th (4:30 p.m. EDT, Versus), where the No.10 car is the defending racewinner.

Notes:

- Fastest Leading Lap: No.10 Franchitti (Lap 70, 98.557 mph, 1:11.8852 sec.)

- The win marked the 104th for Chip Ganassi as a team owner, and 65th in open wheel racing

- This is TCGR's fifth win at Long Beach (Vasser-'96, Zanardi-'97,'98, and Montoya-'99)

- Franchitti records his ninth career victory in the IndyCar Series. His most recent victory was in the 2007 season finale at Chicagoland Speedway when he clinched the series championship

- This is Franchitti's first IndyCar Series victory on a road/street course

TCGR Quoteboard:

Dario Franchitti: "I have lots of Champ Car street and road course wins, but I haven't had one in the IndyCar Series, so to finally get one feels good for all kinds of reasons. After everything we went through last year and then Chip (Ganassi) coming up and saying, 'Hey, do you want to drive my Indy car?' And now we're back here winning together. Having finished second to his cars here twice I said to him last night, 'If you can't beat 'em, join 'em,' and here we are. Thanks to my crew and the whole Target team. It's good to be back and see full grandstands and see a buzz at the track. Great day."

Scott Dixon: "It was just a bad day. I love the road courses but we've just had a rough time. It's just fantastic that Dario had a great finish for the team. We're looking forward to Kansas (next Sunday)."

-credit: cgr

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