Series news and notes 2009-09-30

Today's IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines 1. Rearview mirror: Classic IndyCar Series championship races 2. Lloyd to raise awareness, money for cancer research at HMS: 1. When: 2007 Who: Dario Franchitti, Scott ...

Today's IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines
1. Rearview mirror: Classic IndyCar Series championship races
2. Lloyd to raise awareness, money for cancer research at HMS:

1. When: 2007

Who: Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon

Where: Chicagoland Speedway (Sept. 9, 2007)

The story:

Dario Franchitti was in control of the IndyCar Series after nine of 17 races in 2007, with three victories, including the Indianapolis 500. Franchitti held a 65-point lead - more than a one-race gap - over Scott Dixon after winning the SunTrust Indy Challenge on June 30 at Richmond International Raceway.

It appeared Franchitti was on cruise control for his first championship after 12 years at the top level of North American open-wheel racing. But Dixon had other ideas.

2003 series champion Dixon and his Target Chip Ganassi Racing team found an ideal groove in the second half of the season, winning four of the next seven races after Richmond.

Dixon won the Motorola Indy 300 on Aug. 26 at Infineon Raceway to finally catch and replace Franchitti atop the standings, holding a four-point edge, 560-556. Franchitti regained the top spot by three points, 587-584, by finishing sixth in the penultimate race of the season, the Detroit Indy Grand Prix on Sept. 2. Dixon finished eighth after spinning while battling for the lead late in the race and nearly taking out his championship rival while his stalled car blocked the track.

The final chapter in this thrilling season was set for the PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 on Sept. 9 at Chicagoland Speedway. Sixteen previous races featuring 2,733 laps of competition had come down to one 200-lap duel between Franchitti and Dixon.

Franchitti won the pole in his Andretti Green Racing machine but lost the lead at the green flag. Meanwhile, Dixon had moved up after starting sixth and led 32 laps between Laps 135-190.

Dixon lost the lead to his teammate, Dan Wheldon, on Lap 191 but regained it on Lap 194 when Wheldon slowed on the backstretch. Franchitti's teammate Danica Patrick then spun entering pit road on the same lap, triggering the third and final caution period of the race.

In a moment of nearly perfect drama, Dixon and Franchitti lined up one-two on the restart at the end of Lap 197 as the only cars on the lead lap. Franchitti, who had worked the entire race to save fuel, then moved to the high groove to size up Dixon on Lap 198 but could not pass.

Dixon led Franchitti by .060 of a second at the white flag and needed to stay out front for just 1.5 more miles to claim his second IndyCar Series title.

As the title protagonists blazed through the first two turns and down the backstretch, fans at Chicagoland and around the world were mesmerized by the gripping tension. Then it happened in Turn 3 - one of the most unexpected moments in series history.

Dixon's car sputtered, out of fuel. Franchitti roared past for the race victory and his first North American major series championship. Dixon coasted to the line in second, his Honda engine thirsting for just one half-gallon more of ethanol.

The final margin was 13 points, Franchitti triumphing over Dixon, 637-624.

What They Say Now:

Dario Franchitti: "It was a pretty stressful time. We'd lost some points at Sonoma, and it was going to come down to whoever won the last race between Scott and I. It was Chicago, which was not one of my favorite tracks at the time. I had had some good results there, but I knew I had to win if I was to have a shot. It was all on the line. We were on the pole and the car was very fast, but I went off at the start of the race and the speed wasn't there. The two Target cars and the two Penske cars passed me, and I knew I didn't have the speed on my own to win the race. I had to use the one weapon I owned, and that was fuel-saving. All day, I saved fuel and I saved fuel. There came a point when I had gone longer than anyone else, and Scott was in the pits. I was coming around to put him a lap down and had the 23 car (Milka Duno) not been tooling around cruising under yellow, I'd a put the whole field a lap down, and it would have made my life easier in the last laps. As it was, Scott beat me to the blend line, and it was him and I for the win. The last restart, I made a run for it and tried to go to the outside, but I didn't have enough to get it done. I was sizing him up trying to get a draft on the backstretch on that last lap to see what I could make happen. Just when I was thinking about making a move on him, he ran out of fuel. It was incredible. All those laps for the whole year, it came down to the last lap. The last corner."

Scott Dixon: "2007 was totally different as far as the championship goes. We didn't have the best start of the year, but the last half we won a lot of races and we came through and we tried to chase Dario down. He had a massive point lead at the midway through the season, and we came into that race (season finale at Chicagoland) - I think we were eight points or 10 points out - knowing that whoever won the race would win the championship. Unfortunately, it came down to the last lap, last corner, and we ran out of gas. We needed a half a cup of fuel to get that championship. We were leading the race and Dario sailed on by out of Turn 4, and we lost it."

***

2. Lloyd to raise awareness, money for cancer research at HMS: HER Energy drink announced a new partnership with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing as the sponsor of the No. 40202 HER Dallara/Honda/Firestone entry to be driven by Alex Lloyd in the 2009 IndyCar Series season finale Firestone Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Oct. 10.

The car number signifies the "text to donate" number for cancer research and awareness, where fans can donate $5 to charity simply by texting the word "Stand" to 40202.

"HER is ecstatic to work with (Alex) "Pink" Lloyd again," said Brett Jacobson, CEO of HER Enterprises Inc. "He's a great sport wearing pink, and we had a great experience in May (at the Indianapolis 500). I couldn't have been more excited to find another opportunity to work with him. Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing has such an impressive legacy, and my experience working with all of them the past few weeks only confirms the great things I've heard. And their engineers and crew are remarkable. And we want to thank the IRL for allowing us to enter the #40202 number- and their getting behind such an amazing cause and call to action."

The Firestone Indy 300 will mark Lloyd's second race this season after having competed in the Indianapolis 500 earlier this year where he qualified 11th and finished 13th in the historic event. Lloyd, a native of Manchester, England, holds the distinction of being the only driver to win on both the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's road course (Firestone Indy Lights, 2006) and famed oval (Firestone Indy Lights, 2007). He won eight of the 15 races en route to the 2007 Indy Lights championship including a win at Homestead-Miami Speedway after starting second. He also won five poles, finished in the top-five 13 times and led a total of 399 laps during his title-winning season.

The HER Energy car made its debut in the famed Indianapolis 500 on May 24, 2009 with Lloyd's surprising first-day qualifying effort of 11th place and his 13th place finish in the 33-car field despite it being only his second IndyCar Series race to date. In addition, HER Energy, which is based in Hollywood, held a Pink Carpet event to benefit Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. In conjunction with the Homestead race HER will hold the "Tit for Tat" PSA premiere poolside in South Beach on Friday, October 9. The invitation-only party will premiere the first of an innovative new series of Public Service Announcements written by Jaime King and Taryn Southern and presented by HER. The first installation of the edgy two minute shorts combine the talents of Emily Deschanel, Alyson Hannigan, Minka Kelly, Jaime King, Katharine McPhee and director Steve Carr to raise awareness for breast cancer prevention. At the track, HER along with BMGEP, will unveil an Interactive Infield Hospitality Lounge, complete with DJ and entertainment options.

"It's a real pleasure to have HER Energy as our sponsor for my race with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, a team that I have followed since my fellow countryman Nigel Mansell drove for them," said Alex Lloyd. "It's an exciting brand and I am very happy to continue representing them. HER Energy has seen massive growth over the last year and I look forward to helping them continue to grow their brand. I'm honored to participate in such a worthwhile cause and to help the fight against cancer. For this race I will be dusting off the pink helmet and getting another pink firesuit so I guess Pink Lloyd is back. I'm very excited to be in pink again as I had a good time with it in May and I am looking forward to getting Pink Lloyd back on track."

***

The 2009 IndyCar Series season concludes Oct. 10 with the Firestone Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 4 p.m. (ET) Oct. 10 by VERSUS. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 211. The radio broadcast also will be carried on www.indycar.com. A one-hour qualifying show will air on VERSUS at 6 p.m. Oct. 9. The 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season concludes with the Homestead-Miami 100 on Oct. 9 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be telecast live by VERSUS at 6 p.m. (ET).

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Milka Duno , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Nigel Mansell , Dan Wheldon , Chip Ganassi , Alex Lloyd , Danica Patrick
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing