HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010) -- It was a perfect night for Target Chip Ganassi Racing. Scott Dixon won the Cafes do Brasil Indy 300, while Dario Franchitti claimed his record-tying third IZOD IndyCar Series crown with an eighth-place ...
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010) -- It was a perfect night for Target Chip Ganassi Racing.
Scott Dixon won the Cafes do Brasil Indy 300, while Dario Franchitti claimed his record-tying third IZOD IndyCar Series crown with an eighth-place finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Having already securing the bonus point for winning the PEAK Performance Pole Award, Franchitti needed to lead the most laps and outpace Will Power in the 200-lap event. One was achieved on Lap 118 of 200 when he clinched two points for leading the most laps, and he was on pace to win the race. That would seal the deal no matter where Power finished.
That became moot when Power's No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car brushed the Turn 4 wall on Lap 135 while running fourth, which bent the right-rear wishbone. The crew wheeled the car behind the wall and made the parts change in 5 minutes, 6 seconds. After testing the patch for a few laps under caution, he brought the car into the pit stall and climbed out of the cockpit.
Power, who posted five victories in his first full season with Team Penske, suffered his first DNF of the season in the biggest race of his career. Franchitti, who entered the race 11 points arrears, earned the title by five points with an eighth-place finish.
Dixon, who started on the front row, held off Andretti Autosport teammates Danica Patrick, who tied her season-high of second, and Tony Kanaan to win his third race of the season. Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe finished fourth and teammate Helio Castroneves was fifth. Alex Lloyd of Dale Coyne Racing clinched the Rookie of the Year award.
DAY 2 NOTEBOOK
Several members of the IndyCar community will visit U.S. troops in Southwest Asia and Europe in January as part of The Indy 500 Centennial Tour. The group will meet with between 10,000 and 15,000 troops during the 10-day trip.
Representing the series will be Indianapolis 500 winners Johnny Rutherford and Al Unser Jr., Indy 500 veterans Graham Rahal and Davey Hamilton, and Firestone Indy Lights veteran Martin Plowman. Longtime IndyCar television announcer Jack Arute and IndyCar President, Commercial Division Terry Angstadt also are making the trip, with Arute serving as the moderator and leading panel discussions at all stops on the trip.
The group will leave Indianapolis Jan. 12 and return to the U.S. on Jan. 22. It is anticipated that the group will visit U.S. installations in Germany, Turkey, Spain, Qatar, Iraq, North Africa and the United Arab Emirates, and likely will visit a deployed U.S. aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf or North Arabian Sea.
Morale Entertainment Foundation is the primary coordinator of the trip.
JOHNNY RUTHERFORD: "This will be my second trip to a war zone. I did a U.S. Auto Club trip in 1970, with Roger McCluskey, Gary Gabelich and Larry Dixon, to Vietnam. It was great to see the young men that were defending our honor over there. This is going to be exciting for me to see another aspect of it and give us a chance to thank them for what they do. It's a great opportunity, and I'm looking forward to it with gusto. The thing is, I've been around so long , I don't know if they'll remember me!"
AL UNSER JR.: "I'm thankful for the opportunity to get face-to-face with the troops that are in harm's way and personally thank them for giving me the freedom to do what I have been able to do, which has been to race across the world."
GRAHAM RAHAL: "The age side of it puts us in the same area (as the troops), so we can relate. When they called to ask me if I'd do this, I said I'd be more than happy. It will be a lot of fun to take a day and spend it with them."
TERRY ANGSTADT: This is such an incredible opportunity, we feel, not only to celebrate and kick off the centennial year of the Indianapolis 500, but anyone who has been even close to the Indy 500 recognizes how we really embrace the military, Memorial Day, every aspect of what our troops do for us since the beginning of time. So we could not feel better about being just a small part of bringing this unique program to a number of bases in the Middle East.
LPGA Tour rookie Beatriz Recari offered driving tips to Newman/Haas Racing driver Graham Rahal early this afternoon at Keys Gate Golf Club near Homestead-Miami Speedway and then received a ride in the Indy Racing Experience two-seater with 1969 Indianapolis 500 winner Mario Andretti at the track.
BEATRIZ RECARI (about two-seater ride): "I'm feeling stoked. It was an amazing experience. I didn't even know that a car could get that fast. It was so much fun and such a unique experience, and I am honored to have this opportunity to get driven by Mario Andretti, a legend. Awesome!"
GRAHAM RAHAL (about hitting balls with Recari): "Obviously, the distance is one thing, but the consistency is another thing. They were giving us things to aim for, and she was ever only 5 or 10 yards off on way or another while I'm 50 or 100. I have to work on that if I want to improve my golf game. At least I know it's not the distance I'm struggling with. It was a lot of fun to go out there, hit some balls and see where I'm lacking and see where I'm all right."
(Similarities between golf and auto racing): "In the sense that it's all about accuracy, and our sport is definitely about that. It's precision, and the competitiveness is huge. The training side of it, the amount they have to train and be competitive, is similar to how much we have to train and practice."
TBC Retail Group (TBC Retail) announced today that it has signed a multi-year spokesperson and sponsorship association with IZOD IndyCar Series driver Graham Rahal to represent its family of tire and automotive retail brands. These brands include Service Central®, Tire Kingdom®, NTB-National Tire and Battery®, Merchant's Tire and Auto Centers® and Big O Tires®.
This association will be highlighted by a primary-sponsored car in the IZOD IndyCar Series driven by Rahal, starting in the 2011 season, with a yet-to-be-determined team.
GRAHAM RAHAL: "I am thrilled that TBC Retail Group has chosen to enter into this marketing partnership with me. While this program will have some tremendous customer- and employee-focused elements away from the racetrack, the focal point will be an IndyCar flying the colors of Service Central, Tire Kingdom, NTB, Merchant's Tire and Big O Tires. This is a great statement about IndyCar racing, and hopefully the fans are excited about it. I am extremely proud to represent Service Central on the track and to serve as a spokesman for the company's brands in the years to come."
BOB CROSTAROSA (Senior vice president, marketing and advertising, TBC Retail Group): "We are excited to form this association with Graham and are looking forward to the start of next season. In addition to being an aggressive driver, Graham has proven to be an excellent ambassador of our family of stores. Not everyone can have a personal pit crew, but with over 1,300 locations and a nationwide warranty, motorists can count on the expertise of the Service Central team."
(About team for which Graham will drive in 2011): "Together with Graham, we look forward to finalizing and announcing the IndyCar team component of this program in the near future. We are looking for teams that run up front."
CAFES DO BRASIL INDY 300 POST-RACE QUICK QUOTES:
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, winner): "Yeah, it's a great day. Obviously, you could see what was happening with Will."
(About finishing third in championship): "It's a big deal trying to get to third. I'm happy for chip, happy for Dario, happy for everybody who did a good job. I think both cars were great. I was a little bit loose in traffic. We definitely had the speed all night. A huge night for Team Target."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series champion): "It was all going really well until that last pit stop when we got back of the pack and everyone was going four-wide and banging wheels. The 18 car crashed right in front of us and almost took us out. It was a little too action-packed at the end of the race."
CAFES DO BRASIL INDY 300 POST-RACE NOTES:
* Dario Franchitti earned his third IZOD IndyCar Series championship. He also won in 2007 and 2009.
* Dario Franchitti became just the second driver to win three IZOD IndyCar Series championships, joining Sam Hornish Jr. (2001, 2002, 2006).
* Dario Franchitti became just the second driver to win consecutive IZOD IndyCar Series championships, joining Sam Hornish Jr. (2001, 2002).
* Dario Franchitti has won the IZOD IndyCar Series championship in the last three seasons in which he has competed in the series. He raced in NASCAR in 2008.
* This is the fourth IZOD IndyCar Series championship for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, a series record. Dario Franchitti won in 2009 and 2010, Scott Dixon in 2003 and 2008. TCGR and Andretti Green Racing were tied with three titles entering this event.
* This is the third consecutive IZOD IndyCar Series championship for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, as Dario Franchitti won in 2009 and 2010 and Scott Dixon in 2008. It's the first time a team has won three straight titles in the IZOD IndyCar Series.
* This is the fifth time in the last six years that the Indianapolis 500 winner also has won the IZOD IndyCar Series championship in the same year. "Double" winners since 2005: Dan Wheldon (2005), Sam Hornish Jr. (2006), Dario Franchitti (2007), Scott Dixon (2008), Franchitti (2010). Helio Castroneves earned his third Indianapolis 500 victory in 2009 but didn't win the title last year.
* Dario Franchitti won the IZOD IndyCar Series championship by five points over Will Power. It's the second-closest margin of victory in series history. Scott Sharp and Buzz Calkins tied for the championship with 246 points in the three-race inaugural season in 1996. Sam Hornish Jr. won the title on a tiebreaker - the most victories - over Dan Wheldon when both finished with 475 points in 2006.
* Dario Franchitti scored 307 points on road courses and 295 on ovals this season. Will Power scored 412 points on road courses and 185 on ovals.
* Alex Lloyd won the IZOD IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year Award, the first driver from Dale Coyne Racing to earn that honor.
* Scott Dixon earned his third victory of the season. He also won on the oval at Kansas and on the airport course at Edmonton.
* Scott Dixon earned his 24th career IZOD IndyCar Series victory, extending his series record.
* Target Chip Ganassi Racing earned its sixth victory of the season between drivers Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti. Penske Racing, a three-car team, won nine races this season to lead the series. Andretti Autosport won two races.
* Danica Patrick finished second, tying her season best set at Texas.
* There were 18 lead changes tonight, an event record. The previous record was 15 in 2004.
* Vitor Meira finished sixth, his best result on an oval this season. He finished third in the season opener on the street course at Sao Paulo.
CAFES DO BRASIL INDY 300 POST-RACE QUOTES:
ANA BEATRIZ (No. 24 Roll Coater/DRR, 26th): "I don't know what happened. On the restart, I couldn't put it into gear anymore. When the green flag came, the gears started working again. As soon as I was in the first corner, I think I hit a bump and the rear snapped on me."
ALEX LLOYD (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America, 12th, 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year): "The year 2007 was the last time I ran a full season until this year. It has been three seasons now, and that created a tough couple of years out of a car. I only ran three races in two years, so when coming back full-time at the beginning of the season, I had to knock off the rust. We had ups and downs throughout this season. It was great to get the opportunity from Dale Coyne and Boy Scouts of America for a full-time ride. We came into this year with two goals. Our first goal was to have a good run at the Indy 500, and our second goal was to get Rookie of the Year. I am so proud that we achieved that today. There were some low points in the year, but it was a great season overall. We had to get everything to blend together, and I feel that we accomplished that. There were some things in the last few races that cost us top-10 finishes, but Rookie of the Year is great for myself and the whole team."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Venom Energy, seventh): "The Venom car was good tonight, but we made a wrong decision as a team and pitted during that second-to-last yellow. I almost took it upon myself to stay out; I saw Dixon high in my mirrors and knew he wasn't going to come in. It was a replay in my head of Richmond a couple years ago; the win is right in front of you and you risk throwing it away. It's disappointing, but we win and lose as a team."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 37 Team IZOD, 11th): "Good job to the No. 7 team and the No. 11 team, and Marco also had a solid day, as well. We were good in traffic but had no speed on our own. We have to go back and look at the No. 37 car this winter and gear up for next year."
SARAH FISHER (No. 67 Dollar General/Sarah Fisher Racing, 22nd): "It was definitely a tough night for us out there. We struggled to find grip all night, and you need that to move around here. We tried making several changes to improve the handling of the Dollar General machine, but unfortunately those changes didn't help enough. We're going to dedicate a lot of time in the offseason to finding the missing piece to the puzzle, but I'm confident that we'll get there. On another note, it was great to be 'On Track For A Cause' tonight to support Susan G. Komen for the Cure in the fight against breast cancer. I'm proud to sport pink for such a great cause."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske, 25th): "It's definitely disappointing. I really wanted to win this championship. It was at a point in the race where I felt I really had to push because Dario had led the most laps and was leading the race. I was trying to get around Hunter-Reay, and I got up a little too high and brushed the wall and bent the suspension. The Verizon team had a great season, and we have a lot to be proud of. This has been the best season of my career in motorsport, and I've learned so much. We'll be coming back to win this thing next year."
RAPHAEL MATOS (No. 2 HP de Ferran Dragon, 17th): "It was a tough run. Our strategy was playing well. We were going to try to make it in three stops and were set up well, but we needed it to go green until the end. Unfortunately that didn't happen. We were fighting really hard all night long and it was tough to see the strategy just go away like that, but that's racing."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, fourth): "That was a very wild race. We really had to drive the car a lot out there tonight. I gave it everything I had in the Team Penske car. Thanks to my guys. They gave me great stops tonight and all year long. That was a tough finish for Will. He drove his heart out tonight and all season."
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team GoDaddy.com, second): "After I crossed the line, I said it wasn't a win, but it sure felt like one. This was a great way to end the season. We have had our high points and low points, and the Go Daddy crew pulled it together for a strong end to the year. Hopefully we can continue to improve the car to be better for next year. That was a hard charge at the end, and Tony (Kanaan) and I hope we put on a good show for the fans tonight."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske, fifth): "That was a very difficult race. I struggled in traffic all night long, yet at the end of the race I had a car that I felt was capable of a little more. There was certainly some questionable driving out there tonight. Thanks to Team Penske and my guys for a great finish to our season. I am excited about coming back and doing it all over again next year - hopefully with a better ending in the championship."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 02 NHR/Quick Trim, 10th): "The race was pretty good for the Quick Trim team. There was a lot of stuff going on. I really wish it would have been a little better. We raced extremely well as of late, and I'm a little disappointed because I know that we could have competed with Danica and Marco, so it's a little frustrating to be 10th when we could have been in the top three and potentially even better. To come back and finish in the top 10 again was great, though. With Quick Trim and Newman/Haas, we've never finished out of the top 10, and I'm proud of that. I'm really disappointed with Hunter-Reay and I'm not normally someone who is going to say something, but I'm definitely going to talk to him. It was a racing incident from my standpoint. I drifted up toward him after Danica cut across me, and I'm not sure he understood that was what happened. But then he came down the front straight and pulled his hand off the wheel to give me a gesture and drove into the side of me and took off my front wing."
HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 06 Formula Dream/Panasonic, 20th): "The guys did a great job overnight. The car was definitely a step forward from yesterday, but I think we still need more time to adapt my driving style to the setup. During the race, the car was getting better and better. On the last stint, in a huge pack I was struggling, but in clean air I think I had a quite good car and was able to pass a few people. It's a shame that this is the last race of the season. If we had a test day tomorrow, I think we could learn a lot of things. The finishing position wasn't that good or what I expected, but I think I am happy with that result because we improved the car."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven, third): "I clearly didn't see Danica on the inside that time. It was a great run. Putting on a good show was the least we could do for the fans here tonight. I have to thank my crew. We had a moment there, but when we have a good car, it makes my life a whole lot easier. It was a good weekend as a team. I'm looking forward to next year."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, winner): "Dario's car was strong all night. Tony Kanaan was aggressive in the first stint, so I didn't want to get involved in that too much. We were a little loose at the start, but we were able to fix that. With so many yellows, it turned into a fuel race, and we had a few rough restarts. This was a huge night for us, but more importantly for Dario for taking another championship. A great night for the team, and it is nice to come out on top. We definitely had a rough year and a lot of missed opportunities, but everyone is very excited about the outcome of tonight."
E.J. VISO (No. 8 PDVSA-KV Racing Technology, 19th): "My PDVSA-KV car was good tonight. It felt very good and ran with the leaders early in the race. I got confused in the pits and went early when the fuel rig was still in the car. That cost me places and laps. It is frustrating because we had a strong car. I have had a good season on the ovals, finishing a career-high third in Iowa. The KV Racing crew has worked hard all season, and unfortunately we couldn't give them a good result tonight."
TAKUMA SATO (No. 5 Lotus-KV Racing Technology, 18th): "It was a tough day; it really was. At the beginning of the race, we struggled with balance, but after some changes in my first stop, it felt better. But just lacked speed. It was an exciting race, running two- or three-wide, but at the end of the race, I was sandwiched between two cars and made slight contact, which dropped me back a few places. The KV Racing Technology crew was faultless in their pit stops, and I want to thank them for all their hard work this season."
BERTRAND BAGUETTE (No. 34 RACB Conquest Racing, 15th): "Yesterday we had a problem with the weight jacker on the car. We spent many bull sessions trying to figure it out. The rear end was very nervous, and we couldn't work on the car. I physically started the race with the car we arrived here with. It was tough at the beginning of the race. We adjusted things on the front wing to help me with the understeer, but still it was pretty difficult. I had a good car at the beginning of the stint. The first 10 laps were very, very good. But then the car was sliding up the track. It was a nightmare for me. Then we had a big problem in the pit lane. The guys sent me too early, and I took the fuel (hose) with me. We had a lot of problems. Considering, finishing 15th it is not so bad. This is the first time we really struggled on an oval. And we still finished 15th. It's not too bad, and I hope to be another year with the team because I'm very happy and very proud of what we did this year. I feel very good about the team. Fantastic job, good crew and engineer. What we did this year with a really small budget was really incredible. Hopefully we can do the same next year."
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 36 Sumimed Coldeportes Conquest, 16th): "Those last five laps I was trying to concentrate on a photo finish (with teammate Bertrand Baguette). Unfortunately, I used my last push-to-pass with two laps to go. I thought I had another lap. I'm very happy to pass (Raphael) Matos. I learned a lot. The best experience is not testing. You have to live it by yourself, running the complete 200 laps with everybody and all that adrenaline. This is the best practice. This race counts as hundreds of test days. Being in Miami is as close as I can get to home with so many Colombians around. I'm very thankful to Conquest Racing for giving me this opportunity. It's very important to get miles. For me, it is my first real race. I have to thank Bryan Herta for giving me the Indy 500. It was a great experience. But this is the first time I really enjoyed it. The guys did an incredible job in the pit stops. I have to thank all my sponsors who were here and opened the doors for next year. Everything is looking good with Eric (Bachelart), a great guy. I thank him for giving me this great opportunity and starting this friendship. I hope it lasts for a long time."
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 77 FAZZT Race Team, 14th): "It was a pretty good race until the last restart. The boys did a good job, and the car was getting faster with each lap. All the way through the race, we were able to be competitive on restarts, and we were able to make some up some ground and were able to make it all the way up to 11th. We were pushed us up into the gray on the last restart and lost a bunch of positions. We fought back all the way through, we were side by side with Carpenter off the last corner on the last lap, but it was just a little too late. Other than that, it was a good race. We had a top-10 car and were able to drive up through the field."
VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply Co. A.J. Foyt Racing, sixth): "We knew we had a good car. On the first stint, I thought, 'Hell, this is a very, very good car.' Good job by ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt Racing because to go from 21st to sixth and to be there all day long. I mean, we passed a lot of people. We passed everybody. So it's good to finish the season on an up note. Now we have six months, six months of positive thinking. Hopefully that will carry over for next year."
DAN WHELDON (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing, ninth): "It was a little bit of a difficult night for us. Not the way we wanted to finish. We just seemed to be very, very loose as the run progressed, but the team continued to work very, very hard. It just wasn't for us tonight."
ROGER PENSKE (Team owner, No. 12 Power): "It was a tough ending to a good season for Team Penske. Will and the Verizon team did a great job all year. Our congratulations go out to Dario (Franchitti) and Chip (Ganassi) for winning the championship. We will be back strong next year."
DALE COYNE (Team owner, No. 19 Lloyd): "It has a been a great year. When we entered this season, we thought a Formula One star like Takuma Sato would be our tough competition. Alex and I got to know each other better after the beginning of the season, and after that first run of road courses, I don't think we ever looked back. Alex did a good solid job and finished all the races. The Indy 500 was the highlight of the year, and we did a great job. He is a great kid and has done a wonderful job as an ambassador for the Boy Scouts of America. It has been a great alliance all around for us."
Star Mazda champion Conor Daly of Noblesville, Ind., and USF2000 National Champion Sage Karam of Nazareth, Pa., were recognized for their seasons during pre-race ceremonies. Both series are part of the Road to Indy development ladder system.
SAGE KARAM (2010 US F2000 champion): "We just got here from Road Atlanta and had an awesome weekend, winning both races and got the championship. I couldn't ask for anything more. Now I'm here to watch the Andretti Autosport boys and watch them get a win. They're all teammates to me, and I respect them a lot."
(About giving his mentor Michael Andretti the team's first USF2000 championship): "It's a great feeling to have the first USF2000 banner to hang in the shop. It's really cool, and I hope it's the first that Poppy (crew chief Dave Popielarz) can bring to the team."
CONOR DALY (2010 Star Mazda champion): "It's pretty awesome for me and Sage to be recognized here on the stage and be on the TV broadcast later on. It's really cool. You don't see many series doing that for young drivers. It makes me feel really special. Young drivers don't always get the recognition for what they do, and now we are. It's just a really cool experience to be here."
Anthony Hamilton, the father of 2008 Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton, visited the Cafes do Brasil Indy 300 today as a guest of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and driver Mike Conway, a longtime competitor and friend of Lewis Hamilton.
ANTHONY HAMILTON: "I've always been an IRL fan. To be honest, I've always watched American motor racing. But I figured if you're going to be a part of the American scene, you have to come and watch IRL in the States. I've come over with English driver Michael Conway, who had an accident a little bit ago, and I thought he was going to race this weekend. But today's nice. Good to see Dario up front. Good to see Will Power up front, as well. Down to the wire yet again. It's real exciting racing."
IZOD IndyCar Series veteran Paul Tracy was in the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing pits today.
PAUL TRACY: "I'm disappointed we're not in the race but pretty happy with where we are for next year. We've been working on the program for next year, and I've got some of my key sponsors back. Honda of Canada, Motegi Racing Wheels and GEICO are going to be back with me. So we're looking forward to a full season next year, which would be great."
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing driver Mike Conway, who suffered season-ending injuries in a crash during the Indianapolis 500 in May, visited the team's pit today.
MIKE CONWAY: "It's good to be back. It's been too long since I've been here in the pit lane. It's been a long four months, and I can't wait to get back in the car. So maybe another month or so, we'll be back in."
The 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season starts Sunday, March 27 at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg at St. Petersburg, Fla.