The battle for the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series Championship ended on Lap 135 of the Cafes do Brasil Indy 300 Saturday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway, when championship points leader Will Power brushed the Turn 4 wall while attempting to lap a...
The battle for the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series Championship ended on Lap 135 of the Cafes do Brasil Indy 300 Saturday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway, when championship points leader Will Power brushed the Turn 4 wall while attempting to lap a slower car, damaging his right side suspension and ending his race.
That incident put title challenger Dario Franchitti in control of his own destiny, and the two-time series champion went on to lock up his third title in the past four years with an eighth-place finish in the 200-lap contest. Scott Dixon, Franchitti's teammate at Target Chip Ganassi Racing, went on to score his third victory of the season, just ahead of a thrilling battle for second between the Andretti Autosport duo of Danica Patrick and Tony Kanaan. Patrick passed her teammate on the final lap to claim runner-up honors by less than two-thousandths of a second.
Tonight's season-concluding 300-mile contest capped another race weekend - and a fifth consecutive season - of reliable, powerful performance from the Honda Indy V-8 engine. Throughout 2010, a total of 41 drivers completed 222,278 miles of practice, qualifying and racing - an increase of more than 20,000 miles from 2009 - with no in-race failures.
In addition, for the fifth consecutive season Honda powered the entire 33-car Indianapolis 500 starting field and for a record-extending fifth consecutive year - and the only five times in Indy 500 history - there was not a single engine failure, in yet another testament to Honda's dedication in supplying reliable and equal engines to the full IZOD IndyCar Series.
The 2010 season finale was a race of two parts. Starting from the pole, Franchitti started 11 points behind Team Penske's Power, and needed to finish at least two places ahead of his rival, or win the race after leading the most laps [worth two additional championship points] to gain the title.
Until Power's accident, Franchitti sped to the front in a successful effort to earn the bonus points for most laps led. Although challenged at times by Kanaan and Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe, Franchitti led 128 of the first 140 laps.
But after Power dropped out of the contest, a finish of 10th or better would be enough for Franchitti to take his second consecutive series championship, and third since 2007. That approach nearly backfired when Milka Duno spun and hit the wall in front of Franchitti on Lap 176, but the Scot was able to avoid the debris. His eighth-place finish was enough to claim the championship by a final margin of five points.
Tonight's race concluded the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series, with championship celebration ceremonies to be held Sunday night in Miami Beach. The 2011 season opens here in Florida on March 27 with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Dario Franchitti (#10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) started 1st, finished 8th, claims the IZOD IndyCar Series championship by five points over Team Penske's Will Power; his third series championship in the last four years: "I haven't really had a chance to take it all in yet, but it feels bloody good! The first part of the race was pretty good. It was enjoyable running up front with 'TK' [Tony Kanaan], Ryan [Briscoe] and 'Dixie' [teammate Scott Dixon]. Then after Will [Power] had his problem, we switched to a more cautious approach, and that was nerve-racking! After the last pit stop, everyone ahead of me was going four-wide and banging wheels, then the '18' car [Milka Duno] crashed in front of us and almost took us out. It was a little too action-packed at the end. But Dixie could not have done any more to support me, and it's fantastic that he won tonight."
Will Power (#12 Team Penske Honda) started 3rd, finished 25th [not running] after brushing the Turn 4 wall on Lap 135; finished 2nd in the final championship standings and won a series-high five races in 2010: "Obviously, I'm very disappointed over the outcome. But the championship is won over 17 races, not just the last one. I really wanted to win this championship, and it was at a point in the race where I felt I really had to push, because Dario [Franchitti] had led the most laps and was leading the race. I was trying to get around a slower car and I lost the air off the front of the car, got up too high, brushed the wall and bent the suspension. Still, we have a lot to be proud of. This has been the best season of my career and I've learned so much. We'll be coming back to win this thing next year."
Scott Dixon (#9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) started 2nd, finished 1st, his 3rd victory of 2010 moved him to third in the final championship standings: "This is exactly what we needed to end the season. We could see early on that Will [Power] was struggling and we set our strategy up after that. We were close on fuel until that last yellow, but we had the speed all night. It was a great race for the entire team, and I'm happy for Chip [Ganassi], Dario [Franchitti] and the entire organization."
Danica Patrick (#7 Andretti Autosport Honda) started 11th, finished 2nd, equaling her best finish of 2010: "It wasn't a win, but it kinda felt like one. Our team really came together over the last half of this season, and it was a strong finish for us. I think 'TK' [Tony Kanaan] and I put on a good show for the fans tonight. Hopefully, we can continue to improve and be better next year."
Roger Griffiths (Technical Director, Honda Performance Development) on tonight's race and the 2010 season: "I'm extremely pleased from an HPD perspective. This marks a full season of racing without any engine problems. Congratulations to Dario and the whole Target Chip Ganassi Racing Team for a tremendous season, and obviously to Scott for winning the race. And a big 'thank you' to everyone at HPD and Ilmor for the continued excellence they demonstrate with this program year after year. Amazingly enough, the serial number of the engine in Dario's car tonight was '99' [the car number of Franchitti's good friend Greg Moore, who lost his life in a crash at California Speedway in 1999]. I told Dario this before the race and he said it was a good omen. I'd have to agree."