Dario Undefeated In Iowa After taking a year's sabbatical in stock-car racing, Dario Franchitti returned to Iowa Speedway in triumph at Sunday's Iowa Corn Indy 250, repeating his win from 2007 in today's 250-lap contest and closing to within...
Dario Undefeated In Iowa
After taking a year's sabbatical in stock-car racing, Dario Franchitti returned to Iowa Speedway in triumph at Sunday's Iowa Corn Indy 250, repeating his win from 2007 in today's 250-lap contest and closing to within three points of IndyCar Series championship leader, and second-place finisher, Ryan Briscoe.
As in 2007, Franchitti contented himself with running near the front for the first two-thirds of the race, then asserted himself following the last run of pit stops, carving through traffic to distance himself from Briscoe and establish a comfortable -- by IndyCar standards -- five-second margin of victory.
The win was the 20th for Franchitti in North American open-wheel racing, 10 each in IndyCar and CART competition, and all with Honda power. He continues to be Honda's most successful driver in Indy-style racing, with Alex Zanardi next on the Honda all-time list with 15 victories.
The 20 drivers in this weekend's field ran a total of 5,044 miles in practice, qualifying and racing this weekend without a single engine-related failure for the Honda HI9R Indy V-8.
For Briscoe, it was his third consecutive second-place finish of the season which, coupled with his win at the season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, keeps him at the top of the drivers' championship point standings after seven races.
Hideki Mutoh led the Andretti Green Racing team today with a third-place finish, following a second-place run here last year in his rookie IndyCar season. Like Franchitti, Mutoh's Honda Dallara was particularly strong on restarts and he picked up several positions in this fashion in his march up to third from his 11th-place starting position.
Much of the excitement in the early laps came from veteran Tomas Scheckter, making his second start of the season for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. Using a high line to great effect after starting 16th, Scheckter passed six cars in the opening lap and eventually ran as high as second place until handling issues and a slow pit stop in the closing laps dropped him to a sixth-place finish.
Today's race in Iowa started a stretch of four consecutive racing weekends for IndyCar drivers and teams. Next week, the series wraps up the "short track" portion of the 2009 season with its second Saturday night race of the year, the June 27 SunTrust Indy Challenge at Virginia's Richmond International Raceway.
Dario Franchitti (#10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) Started 4th, finished 1st, 2nd win of 2009, record-extending 20th career Honda-powered open-wheel victory in CART and IndyCar Series competition: "It's all a bit of a blur at the moment. This was a very, very physical race with the speeds we run here and the humidity today. Our pit stops were awsome, and really helped us with track position today. We also worked hard on a certain part of the setup. One of the tricks we learned here [winning in] 2007 was how to keep your car fast here throughout a run, especially early on cold tires. We also made a few small changes on our final pit stop that really helped us get through lapped traffic in the final stint and that really helped over the final 50 laps. My dad's [George Franchitti] not here today -- and he doesn't miss too many races -- so I just want to say 'Happy Father's Day'. This is for him. I wouldn't be here without my dad's support."
Ryan Briscoe (#6 Team Penske Honda) Started 2nd, finished 2nd, his third consecutive 2nd place IndyCar Series result: "It was an exciting day. The car was a bit of a handful at the start, but once we made some changes at the first pit stop it was really good the rest of the race. Dario [Franchitti] was perhaps a bit stronger on cold tires, I didn't have as much for him early in a stint, and he was very quick in traffic. That probably was the difference. My guys did a great job in the pits, but I probably left a bit on the table coming in on that last stop. But we'll take a second place [result] and the points for most laps led and head off to [the next race at] Richmond."
Hideki Mutoh (#27 Andretti Green Racing Honda) started 11th, finished 3rd, his best result of 2009 and second consecutive podium finish in Iowa: "Iowa Speedway has been very good to me! We finished second here last year and now I get my first podium finish of the season here today. I was able to stay out of trouble and keep gaining track position during the race. My car was very good, especially on restarts, where I was able to make several passes on the track. My guys did a fantastic job in the pits and that got us a few more positions. It was a very good day for us."
-credit: honda racing