Series Championship Celebration report

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FRANCHITTI COLLECTS MILLION DOLLAR BONUS ON SOUTH BEACH MIAMI, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2009 - A day after winning the 2009 IndyCar® Series championship, Dario Franchitti was honored for his second title in three years. Franchitti and Firestone...

FRANCHITTI COLLECTS MILLION DOLLAR BONUS ON SOUTH BEACH

MIAMI, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2009 - A day after winning the 2009 IndyCar® Series championship, Dario Franchitti was honored for his second title in three years.

Franchitti and Firestone Indy Lights® champion J.R. Hildebrand - along with other drivers, teams and manufacturers - were recognized during the Indy Racing League Championship Celebration poolside at the W Hotel on South Beach.

Brian Barnhart, president of the competition and operations division of the Indy Racing League, sanctioning body of the IndyCar Series, presented Franchitti with a $1 million championship bonus check and a mini IndyCar Series championship trophy. A mini IndyCar Series championship trophy also was awarded to Target Chip Ganassi Racing owner Chip Ganassi.

"In '07, there was a lot of satisfaction in getting that one done, and now to come back from where we were a year ago is very satisfying," said Franchitti, who used fuel strategy to beat Ryan Briscoe of Team Penske and his teammate Scott Dixon to win the Firestone Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway by 4.788 seconds to clinch the championship. "I think that's what makes it sweeter is we've got everybody together, and you've got a more balanced schedule, as well.

"That gives me really a lot of satisfaction, having to beat guys like ---- look down the list. Look at the drivers we're competing against, Ryan (Briscoe) and certainly Scott (Dixon) at the top of that. To beat those guys and to beat Scott on team equipment, you've had a great year."

In addition to the championship bonus, Franchitti accepted the $10,000 Bosch Platinum Award and received a $100,000 diamond-encrusted champion's timepiece from Ritmo Mundo.

Kevin O'Donnell, chief mechanic for Franchitti's No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda-powered Dallara, accepted the IndyCar Series Chief Mechanic of the Year Award.

Raphael Matos of Luczo Dragon Racing accepted the $25,000 Apex-Brasil Rookie of the Year Award. Ryan Briscoe of Team Penske won the Raybestos Road & Street Challenge while Dan Wheldon of Panther Racing was awarded the Xtrac Championship Award and its $5,000 prize.

Hildebrand accepted the mini Firestone Firehawk Cup along with a $10,000 award for the Raybestos Road and Street Course Challenge for scoring the most points on road and street courses, a $5,000 prize as the winner of the Lucas Oil Frequent Pole Sitter Award, a $5,000 "Securing Tomorrow Award" from Gregory & Appel Insurance for winning the most races, the $5,000 Palmer Family Frequent Podium Award and the $10,000 Sunoco Most Improved Driver Award.

"Winning this championship is at the top of the list of career achievements," Hildebrand said. "To be able to win the championship at this level is I think the best thing that a driver can do to be able to move up and that's all of all of our ultimate goals. It means a lot to be here as the 2009 champion."

Jayson Madison, chief mechanic for Hildebrand's No. 26 ARPRO entry for Andretti Green Racing/AFS Racing, accepted $5,000 as Mo'sGold Chief Mechanic of the Year.

Sebastian Saavedra of AFS Racing/Andretti Green Racing won $10,000 as Mesco Building Solutions' "Building for the Future" Rookie of the Year, while Mario Romancini of RLR/Andersen Racing claimed the Force For Earth Hard Charger Award and its $5,000 prize for improving the most total positions during the 2009 season.

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IndyCar Series award winners

Championship driver: Dario Franchitti
Herff Jones Championship Driver Award (ring valued at $5,000): Dario Franchitti
Ritmo Mundo Championship Driver Award (diamond watch valued at $100,000): Dario Franchitti
Canon Championship Award (Prize package valued at $2,000): Dario Franchitti and Kevin O'Donnell

Championship team: Target Chip Ganassi Racing

Championship team sponsor: Target Chip Ganassi Club

Championship team managers: Scott Harner and Barry Wanser

Chief Mechanic of the Year Award: Kevin O'Donnell

Apex-Brasil Rookie of the Year Award ($25,000): Raphael Matos

Second place championship driver: Scott Dixon

Second place championship team: Target Chip Ganassi Racing

Third place championship driver: Ryan Briscoe

Third place championship team: Team Penske

BOSCH Platinum Award ($10,000 for highest-finishing driver using Bosch spark plugs): Dario Franchitti

Raybestos Road & Street Course Challenge: Ryan Briscoe

Xtrac Championship Award ($5,000 for driver who won most Xtrac Awards during 2009): Dan Wheldon

Manufacturer Recognition Awards: Honda, Firestone, Delphi, Dallara, Xtrac, and K&N Filters

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Firestone Indy Lights award winners

Championship driver (mini Firehawk Cup): J.R. Hildebrand

Herff Jones Championship Driver Award (ring valued at $4,000): J.R. Hildebrand

Ritmo Mundo Championship Driver Award (watch valued at $25,000): J.R. Hildebrand

Championship team (mini Firehawk Cup): Andretti Green Racing/AFS Racing

Mo'sGold Chief Mechanic of the Year ($5,000): Jayson Madison

Second place championship driver: James Davison

Second place championship team: Vision Racing

Third place championship driver: Sebastian Saavedra

Third place championship team: AFS Racing Inc./Andretti Green Racing

Firestone Painting Award: J.R. Hildebrand Force for Earth Hard Charger ($5,000): Mario Romancini

Gregory & Appel "Securing Tomorrow" Award ($5,000): J.R. Hildebrand

Lucas Oil Frequent Polesitter Award ($5,000): J.R. Hildebrand

Mesco Building Solutions "Building for the Future" Rookie of the Year ($10,000): Sebastian Saavedra

National City Community Leader Award ($5,000): Sam Schmidt Motorsports

Palmer Family Frequent Podium Award ($5,000): J.R. Hildebrand

Raybestos Road & Street Course Challenge (10,000): J.R. Hildebrand

Sunoco Most Improved Driver ($10,000): J.R. Hildebrand

-credit: irl

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Series INDYCAR , INDYLIGHTS