Sonoma: Series race report

FRANCHITTI WINS AT INFINEON; BRISCOE TAKES POINTS LEAD SONOMA, Calif. - (Sunday, Aug. 23, 2009) Dario Franchitti became the second driver to lead an IndyCar Series race from flag to flag and closed ground in the tight fight for the IndyCar...

FRANCHITTI WINS AT INFINEON; BRISCOE TAKES POINTS LEAD

SONOMA, Calif. - (Sunday, Aug. 23, 2009) Dario Franchitti became the second driver to lead an IndyCar Series race from flag to flag and closed ground in the tight fight for the IndyCar Series championship.

Franchitti won the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway, while Ryan Briscoe's runner-up finish gave him the championship points lead by four over Franchitti. It's the 13th time the championship points lead has changed in the 14 races this season.

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing rookie Mike Conway posted a career-high third place and Mario Moraes also had a career best with a fourth place. Both drivers overtook Hideki Mutoh's No. 27 Formula Dream car on Lap 73, who nonetheless ran to the checkers for his second consecutive fifth place.

Franchitti and Briscoe were clear of the first-lap jumble that entangled seven mid-pack cars in Turn 2. Scott Dixon, the points leader who started 10th in the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma, wasn't as fortunate. Though Dixon's No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car continued after the hit and run and he weaved from 15th on the 2.303-mile, 12-turn Infineon Raceway to 10th place (until literally being bumped to 13th on the white flag lap). Dixon's finish moves him to third in the championship standings, 20 points behind Briscoe.

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DAY 2 NOTEBOOK:

Gladiator GarageWorks, an associate sponsor of A.J. Foyt Racing, has donated a workbench signed by all 33 drivers from the 2009 Indianapolis 500 for an online auction to benefit breast cancer research.The drivers signed the bench in the starting grid positions in which they qualified for the famed race. Larry Foyt, team director of A.J. Foyt Racing, designated Emerson Newton-John's "Full Speed 2 a Cure" motorsport cancer awareness campaign and its charitable non-profit partner, Cure Breast Cancer. "Full Speed 2 a Cure" selected Bidaroo.com to host the auction as the online auction site focuses on giving to charities.

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Medical update from Dr. Michael Olinger, Indy Racing League director of medical services: Penske Racing driver Will Power continues to be treated at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital in Santa Rosa, Calif.,following his practice accident on Saturday at Infineon Raceway. Power, who suffered a concussion and compression fractures of his second and fourth lumbar vertebrae in the incident, is in the process of being fitted for a custom back brace. Medical personnel expect Power to remain hospitalized for a few more days prior to being transported to Indianapolis, where he will undergo further examination by IndyCar Series orthopedic specialist, Dr. Terry Trammell, to determine the next course of treatment and recovery.

Conquest Racing driver Nelson Philippe suffered a concussion and an open fracture of his left foot. He underwent surgery to have the foot fracture washed out and repaired. After further examination, it was found that Philippe also suffered a hairline fracture of his right fibula and he will be fitted with a brace. Philippe is expected to remain hospitalized at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital for another night.

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INDY GRAND PRIX OF SONOMA POST-RACE NOTES

* This is Dario Franchitti's fourth win of the season and the 12th of his IndyCar Series career. It is the 22nd win in his open-wheel racing career.

* This is the 32nd win in the IndyCar Series for Target Chip Ganassi Racing.

* Ryan Briscoe finished second for the seventh time this season.

* Mike Conway finished third, his best finish in the IndyCar Series. His previous best finish was sixth at Watkins Glen earlier this year

* Mario Moraes finished fourth, his best finish in the IndyCar Series. His previous best finish was seventh at Watkins Glen in 2008.

* Hideki Mutoh finished fifth, his second consecutive top-five finish.

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CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS NOTES:

* Ryan Briscoe takes the points lead. It is the 13th time in 14 races that the points leader has changed.

* This is the fourth time this season Ryan Briscoe has led the championship points.

* The four point differential between first and second place ties the 2002 difference between first and second (Hornish/Castroneves) as the closest points differential with three races remaining.

* The 20 points between first and third place is the third-closest in league history with three races remaining. In 2002, 13 points separated first and third, and in 2006, 17 points separated first and third.

* Only four drivers - Ryan Briscoe, Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves -- remain eligible for the championship with three races remaining.

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IndyCar Series officials have penalized Marco Andretti for avoidable contact with Scott Dixon on the final lap of today's race. Andretti will be credited with a 14th-place finish and placed behind Ed Carpenter (11th), Dan Wheldon (12th) and Scott Dixon (13th).

Dario Franchitti led every lap of today's race. It is the second time an IndyCar Series race has been led flag-to-flag. Scott Dixon led all 206 laps of a rain-shortened race at Richmond International Raceway in June 2003.

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INDY GRAND PRIX OF SOMONA POST-RACE QUOTES:

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, winner Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma): "It was a good weekend for Target Chip Ganassi Racing. The Target cars were pretty good. On the red Firestone tires they were very good. Qualifying up front allowed us to control the pace of the race and go just as fast as we used to go and that really helped us."

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, finished second): "I got into a pretty big deal with Dario's (Franchitti) rear wing there today. That was pretty much the story of my race. I was pretty conservative on the fuel during that first stint and I actually thought I was going to be able to get him (Franchitti) by going a lap further and I was surprised to see that he went a lap further than me. That's something we need to work on for this track, fuel mileage, but the Team Penske car was pretty good today. I think if I would have had clean air I would have been quicker than Dario (Franchitti). With dirty air there wasn't much I could do. Unfortunately, it is a really tough track to pass on if the guy in front of you doesn't make mistakes. I don't think that Dario (Franchitti) made one today, but congratulations to him and his team. Team Penske did an awesome job and had great pit stops. We're leading the championship so hopefully we can hang onto it."

MIKE CONWAY (No. 24 Tran Systems/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, finished third): "Yeah, it was good. In the beginning, we got hit from behind and I got a puncture in my rear tire. I thought my race was finished. I just kept pushing all the way and just kept moving forward, and I kept setting quick times. Towards the end, I knew I might be able to get past the guys in front. The Tran Systems car was really good today. If we had a few more laps, it would have been interesting to see if I could get past those guys."

MARIO MORAES (No. 5 Azul Tequila/Votorantim/KVRT, finished fourth): "The last two weeks have been really tough for me, but it felt good to get back into the car and have a good race. The KV Racing Technology team did a great job today, in fact, for the whole weekend. In qualifying, we had a little problem, but we went back to our original plan. In morning warmup, we thought the No. 5 Azul/Votorantim car was fast, and I think moving up 10 places in the race today proved it. I would like to thank the whole KVRT crew again for everything and also the fans for all the support over the last two weeks."

HIDEKI MUTOH (#27 Formula Dream, finished fifth): "If I was able to keep the third position, it would've been a great finish, but the Formula Dream car was fantastic. Our pit stop was great, as well, so we were able to pass Helio. I really would like to thank all the Andretti Green people for their great support and the fans here. I enjoyed the race today, and am looking forward to next week's race at Chicagoland."

ORIOL SERVIA (No. 06 Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, finished sixth): "The weekend started as bad as it could, which was not running in the only practice session before qualifying. But the car was good and I started to feel more comfortable with the track in the morning warmup and we were fifth fastest. It was just a matter of getting some clear laps to prepare. I knew we had a car to go fast. We saved a lot of fuel at the beginning which gave us an extra two or three laps on others and when they pitted we pushed and made up track position. For some reason I had a feeling that the start was going to be messy and it was; I don't even know what happened. I just saw (car) parts and more parts flying in the air. There was a moment where I could have been a little more aggressive but you never know where the cars are going to be coming from. I'm happy no one touched us and we gained a lot of spots. Its always exciting racing with Justin; we've been racing together many years and its always as hard and fair as it gets. The proof of that is that he made a couple of over-optimistic maneuvers but he still managed not to wreck me or himself. It's what you expect from a real racer. I was on blacks (Firestone standard tires) and everyone was on reds so I was sliding all over the place, more than them. But the car was great and I was able to keep ahead of Justin. It's always exciting to come from the back and finish sixth. When you are that close to the front you always want more and you get a little hungrier. Considering how the weekend started and our starting position I think we should be pretty happy. It should be a good morale boost for the next couple of races and hopefully we're going to be at the front. I want to thank Carl (Haas), Berni (Bernadette Haas) and Mike (Lanigan) for the opportunity to race here. I enjoyed it."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven, finished eighth): "I felt like a bowling pin since I got hit a few times today. I think if we could've qualified a bit higher on the starting grid we could've stayed out of all that mess. It was unfortunate but a good way to come back. It's just been one of those years, but at least we finished the race. Hopefully next weekend in Chicago we can get the Team 7-Eleven car into victory lane. We're ready."

RAPHAEL MATOS (No. 2 US Marines/Luczo Dragon Racing, finished ninth): "We started 18th and got another top 10 and added to our rookie lead so it was a good day. The key was staying out of trouble on that first lap and somehow I was able avoid Wilson who spun in front of me late. I'm a little frustrated because we could have finished seventh. I lost my dashboard in the end and made a mis-shift in turn 11 and that cost me two spots. But after struggling yesterday a top 10 is great. I give all the credit to the Luczo Dragon Marines team because they helped me pick up a lot of spots with two great pit stops."

ROBERT DOORNBOS (No. 33 HVM Racing, finished 10th): "What a day. It's such a long day when the car is not competitive. I'm sorry for the guys behind me, I was just holding them up in the beginning, but I was just doing everything I could to stay on the track. Obviously we had a mega start. We got about eight positions at the start, so we were running in sixth place. That was good. But the pace was just not there."

E.J. VISO (No. 13 PDVSA/HVM Racing): "We had a very good start. I had a very good first corner. I think I overtook two or three cars. And as soon as I was in the apex of Corner 2, I just found Tony Kanaan sideways and I just tried to do my best to avoid him. But he was sideways but still moving forward, so I didn't have an option."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): "It was a tough race. Every thing we tried to do. We tried catch a yellow. We pitted early to see if it could vault us up, and we kept coming out in the same position, racing with TK and Marco and we got into a bit of a mixup at the end.

(About the pass at the end): "We made quite a few passes on quite a few people, and at the end, he got into the back of me and spun me around. He came up and apologized. Definitely didn't do it on purpose. It was just one of those days. That's racing. Glad to move on and get out of here. I hope to get to the last three races because we fared well there last year."

(About points race): "It can switch big time. That's what we've got to look at. We need to be consistent in the last three (races). And hopefully, they can have a bit of a blunder. But the Target team can win the last three races, hopefully we can do it and come home with another championship."

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The 2009 IndyCar Series season continues Aug. 29 with the PEAK Antifreeze and Motor Oil Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 9 p.m. (EDT) by VERSUS. A one-hour qualifying show will be telecast by VERSUS at 6 p.m. on Aug. 28. 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. The 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Chicagoland 100 on Aug. 29 at Chicagoland Speedway. The race will be telecast by VERSUS at 4 p.m. (EDT) on Aug. 31. VERSUS's coverage of the Carneros 100 will be telecast at 4 p.m. (EDT) on Aug. 24.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Larry Foyt , Dan Wheldon , Ryan Briscoe , Marco Andretti , Nelson Philippe , Chip Ganassi , Mike Conway , Will Power , Mario Moraes , Hideki Mutoh , A.J. Foyt , Emerson Newton-John , Ed Carpenter
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , KV Racing Technology , HVM Racing , Dragon Racing , Conquest Racing , Team Penske