Dario Franchitti set to close in on lead in Mid-Ohio. Following his last-start win in Vancouver, Team KOOL Green's Dario Franchitti has championship leader Cristiano da Matta well in his sights heading into this weekend's 11th round of the FedEx...
Dario Franchitti set to close in on lead in Mid-Ohio.
Following his last-start win in Vancouver, Team KOOL Green's Dario Franchitti has championship leader Cristiano da Matta well in his sights heading into this weekend's 11th round of the FedEx Championship Series at Mid-Ohio.
Currently da Matta, a 28-year-old Brazilian and defending Honda Indy 300 champion, leads the series with 122 points, with the in-form Franchitti on 86 and Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Bruno Junqueira and Team Rahal's Michel Jourdain Jr locked on 74.
After failing to finish at the last two rounds, da Matta's Series lead is diminishing -whetting the appetites of Australian fans with the possibility of a Series-deciding race in Round 17 at the Honda Indy 300 on the Gold Coast from October 24-27.
The Brazilian's closest competitor, Franchitti, brings a wealth of experience and Mid-Ohio success into this weekend as a duel pole winner at the venue in 1998 and 1999. Franchitti has yet to transfer his qualifying success into race-day glory but is confident of inaugural success this year to add to his eight career Champ Car wins.
"It is a tough track to race at but it suits my style of driving and I've always qualified well there. I haven't been able to get the finish I want so far at this track, but I feel that this year I've probably got one of the best chances I've ever had to get to victory lane," said Franchitti, who won on the streets of the Gold Coast in 1999.
"At Mid-Ohio you're constantly changing direction, the track is up and down and it is a tough place. The win in Vancouver really boosted everyone's spirits. Team KOOL Green is looking to have a great run in Mid-Ohio to get this stretch of four races in a row going on a strong note."
The only driver racing at the weekend to have tasted victory at Mid-Ohio previously is Team Motorola's Michael Andretti. CART's all-time victory leader has earned two of his 42-race wins and three of his 32 poles at the Mid-Ohio circuit.
The other current driver to have won at the road course, Adrian Fernandez, will be watching from the sidelines this weekend after suffering a hairline fracture of the left hip during a late-race crash in Vancouver. He hands over his Honda-powered Lola to Max Papis for the weekend.
The drivers holding down the third spot in the points chase will have to erase their dubious Mid-Ohio history if they are to stay in the championship chase. Both Junqueira and Jourdain Jr. have never been amongst the points in Mid-Ohio.
Paul Tracy of Team KOOL Green and Tony Kanaan of Mo Nunn Racing will also be looking at maintaining their momentum after a podium finish in Vancouver.
Tracy could be the most successful Champ Car driver never to have won at Mid-Ohio, having earned top-five finishes in three of the last four years. Kanaan is coming off his best ever Mid-Ohio effort after posting a fifth place run in 2001.
-honda indy 300/australia-