Iowa: Series race report

FRANCHITTI WINS IOWA CORN INDY 250 NEWTON, IOWA (Sunday, June 21, 2009) - Dario Franchitti is two-for-two at Iowa Speedway. The 2007 winner at the track found his way back to victory lane Sunday, winning the Iowa Corn Indy 250 by 5.0132 ...

FRANCHITTI WINS IOWA CORN INDY 250

NEWTON, IOWA (Sunday, June 21, 2009) - Dario Franchitti is two-for-two at Iowa Speedway. The 2007 winner at the track found his way back to victory lane Sunday, winning the Iowa Corn Indy 250 by 5.0132 seconds over Ryan Briscoe.

Franchitti gave the credit to his Target Chip Ganassi Racing crew, which turned in a quick pit stop on Lap 196 of 250 as the leaders cycled through green flag stops.

Franchitti trailed Briscoe by less than a second as the stops began and led by more than a second when they were completed. As the drivers worked through lapped traffic over the final 50 laps, Franchitti was able to build his lead to a comfortable margin.

Franchitti's second victory of the season moved him within three points of Briscoe, who remains the IndyCar Series points leader. For the third consecutive race, Briscoe led the most laps but finished second.

Andretti Green Racing's Hideki Mutoh finished third, one spot lower than his career-best finish at the track last year, and Panther Racing's Dan Wheldon finished fourth as the top four finishers came from different teams.

Helio Castroneves, who started on the pole based on entrant points after qualifying was cancelled due to water seepage on the track, finished seventh. He made contact with Scott Dixon early in the race, forcing both cars to pit for repairs. Dixon finished fifth.

The race got off to a rough start with four caution periods in the first 55 laps but finished with stints of 56 and 127 consecutive green-flag laps.

***

Rusty Wallace, a former NASCAR driver and the designer of Iowa Speedway, was at the track.

RUSTY WALLACE: (About the weepers): "There are a lot of things we can control, but unfortunately we can't control the weather. We were really upset that we had a couple of weepers yesterday that cancelled qualifying. As you know, we've been inundated with rain here, so much rain it's unbelievable. It finally stopped, and we got the race in last night. We're going to do some research after this event is over and see if there's anything we can do to help that. Almost all of the tracks on the NASCAR series have suffered that. A lot of problems at Pocono, at Michigan, Texas. It's not an excuse. We've got to figure out what's causing it at our racetrack. It's the first time we've ever seen it. It just popped up unbeknownst to us. The area is just so saturated with water due to all the rain in the Midwest." (About the track): "I was just talking to a lot of the drivers in the driver's meeting. They're just so excited. They said, 'We just love coming here, we love the racing, we love the shape of the track, the three different angles of the track, the multi-groove banking. It's neat when you come in and see these guys."

***

Iowa Speedway and IndyCar Series executives announced that they are nearing completion of a two-year extension for the series to compete at Iowa Speedway.

STAN CLEMENT (Chief Executive Officer, Iowa Speedway): "Today is the third IndyCar Series race at Iowa Speedway. From the very beginning the Iowa Corn Indy 250 has been the premier event on our schedule. We have a record crowd this weekend, and all the additional seating in place is sold out. We are working to finalize a multi-year agreement. We continue to develop this event and are excited about its potential and feel great about the current agreement we're working on." (About Iowa's location): "The fans around here have always gone to the Indy 500. We just bring it closer to them with a different type of track."

JERRY JAURON (President and Chief Financial Officer, Iowa Speedway): "I want to thank the IndyCar Series for their commitment to Iowa Speedway. What excites me is when you look out there, Iowa Speedway is going to hopefully continue to be part of the exclusive racing venues that host the IndyCar Series. That will solidify Iowa Speedway as one of the top motorsports venues in the world. That's exciting. We have actually sold tickets to our race today in 24 states. I think that says a lot about Iowa Speedway and our future. We look forward to many years with the IndyCar Series." (About the success of the Speedway): "There are studies done around the country by different independent groups, and in the upper Midwest 70 percent of all people are race fans are out here. We are the heart of America and the heart of race country. The state of Iowa has 68 or 69 tracks alone, so I think it's built in the perfect spot. We're in open-wheel country. These drivers are going to average 180 mph, they're going to do laps in under 18 seconds. But beyond that, it's all about entertainment value. I believe Iowa Speedway has benefitted from the economy. People now are really scrutinizing where they're going to spend their entertainment dollars. When you can come out to Iowa Speedway on a season ticket basis on an average of $25 or $30 for the best seat in the house, you get world-class racing, you get nationally acclaimed concert acts, fireworks, tailgating, racing simulators, a midway like the state fair. You can't get that anywhere else in Iowa except here."

TERRY ANGSTADT (President of the Commercial Division, Indy Racing League): "We are very excited about being here. We're excited to be here every year. I think this year is even more special because of the opportunity to extend this into the future. When we show up from people at the airport, to people at the hotels, to fans in and around the grounds, you're made to feel very welcome, and that doesn't happen in every market. We love the configuration, the distance of the track. It works so well for us. It works for us on every level."

***

Medical update from Dr. Michael Olinger, medical director for the Indy Racing League: #44 Gustavo Yacaman was released from Mercy Hospital this morning. A CT scan showed no appendicitis. Yacaman was admitted to the hospital following the Miller Lite 100 after he began experiencing abdominal pain during the race.

***

Olympic gold medalist and "Dancing with the Stars" champion Shawn Johnson met three-time Indianapolis 500 winner and 2007 "Dancing with the Stars" champion Helio Castroneves at the start/finish line this morning. Castroneves gave her an insider's tour of the racetrack with some high-speed laps in the pace car. She also got a garage tour of the No. 7 Boost Mobile/Motorola car driven by Danica Patrick.

SHAWN JOHNSON: "I've been home for about a week and it's great to be home, and now to come out to the track to watch the race and meet Helio is fantastic."

***

INDYCAR SERIES POST-RACE NOTES:

* Dario Franchitti earns his 10th career victory and his second victory of the season. He also won at Long Beach.

* Franchitti has won both of his starts at Iowa Speedway. He also won the race in 2007.

* This is the 28th IndyCar Series victory for Target Chip Ganassi Racing. This is the team's fourth win of the season.

* The top four finishers came from four different teams. The top six finishers came from five teams.

* Ryan Briscoe finished second for the third consecutive race. Briscoe has led the most laps in each of those races (Milwaukee, Texas, Iowa).

* Briscoe remains the points leader and is the first driver to hold the points lead for two consecutive races this season.

* Hideki Mutoh finished a season-best third. His career-best finish of second came at Iowa last year.

* Dan Wheldon finished fourth, his sixth consecutive top-10 finish.

* Scott Dixon finished fifth, his fourth top-five finish of the season.

* Tomas Scheckter finished sixth, his best finish since fifth at Kentucky in 2007. It is the best finish for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing since a fourth last year at Watkins Glen with driver Buddy Rice.

* Mike Conway finished a career-best eighth. It's also his first top-10 finish of his career.

* The last time Dreyer & Reinbold had two cars finish in the top 10 was at last year's Indianapolis 500 when Buddy Rice finished eighth and Townsend Bell finished 10th.

* Danica Patrick finished ninth. She and Dan Wheldon lead all drivers with six consecutive top-10 finishes. Patrick led her first laps since Kentucky 2008.

***

INDYCAR SERIES POST-RACE QUOTES:

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 TOM TOM, first): "I like driving here. We tested at Iowa last Wednesday. The Target guys did a really, really good job coming up with a setup, and they were awesome in the pits. I just went out, did my job and hung on, made some good moves in traffic and here we are. More than anywhere, today is a team win because those pit stops moved us up in track position."

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, second): "It was a great day for Team Penske. Dario (Franchitti) had a bit more than us when on cold tires. On the restarts, he was a bit better than us. We were quickest throughout the middle of the stint. I was hoping I would be able to catch him in traffic, but he just got a bit more luck with those guys and actually opened up the gap. It was a tough one but a great day. The car was awesome. We had to make a bit of changes on the first pit stop, but from there the car was great."

HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 27 Formula Dream, third): "I was hoping to be one step up on the podium. This is one step down. But it's still a podium finish, so I'm happy. The Formula Dream team gave me a very good car." (On recording his best finishes at Iowa): "It seems like Iowa is my favorite track because of the results. Maybe it should be."

DAN WHELDON (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing, fourth): "It's a good result for Panther Racing and the National Guard; to finish fourth here with this level of competition is something we can build on. There's a bunch of good guys on this Panther team, and they're all working very hard, and I know we all want to get back to victory lane together. I always tended to lose a few places on starts and restarts, but once the car came in it was as good as anybody out there. Toward the end of the race, I should have made some more aggressive changes with the front wing, because I had some understeer. My race was relatively low key. I was loose at the start of each stint, but once the car settled down it was good. I'll take a top five, and it's some good momentum to build upon. This is a good track. As it starts to lose even more grip, it's going to become even more fun. I know a lot of people say that Iowa is in the middle of nowhere, but you know what, we get such a great crowd and they're so enthusiastic. As a driver you could put me in paradise, but if there's nobody in the grandstands then it's not good racing."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, fifth): "We tried to go with two different strategies, and it looks like Dario (Franchitti) just had a stellar day. Once we touched (with Helio Castroneves' car), we cycled back. And once we got back in traffic, it was really tough. We should have done much better, but at least one of the cars did well this weekend."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske, seventh): "We just couldn't get the Team Penske car quite right today. It's difficult to get the car exactly how you want it on a short oval when you don't have the opportunity to practice very much. It was a long day out there. Toward the end of the race, I think I was a bit too conservative. I had a lot of understeer, and we just didn't tweak the car enough on that last stop. I don't think that the front wing was the problem because we were back in the game for awhile, but we didn't have enough there in the end. The good news is that it's not even halfway through the season and we still have plenty of races ahead of us to improve and work towards the championship. Now we just have to keep our heads down and focus on Richmond."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Boost Mobile/Motorola, ninth): "We started off with a good car, but it just wasn't our day. We got a couple flat tires at the beginning of the race, which was a bummer, but then we just changed up the strategy a bit, which allowed us to lead a few laps. But then the yellows started to come out, and we were at the wrong place at the wrong time. But it was a top-10 finish for us, so if this is the worst finish we have this season, I can't complain."

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Menards/Vision Racing, 10th): "The bumps were a factor. The car was loose over those bumps the whole race, and I had understeer in Turns 3 and 4, especially in traffic. We were pretty limited on what we could do to take understeer out of the car because I was afraid of what that it would do over the bumps. It's disappointing, because this is a great racetrack, and I'd really like to see them fix that bump. I know they tried, but we'd like to see them try something different. We're happy to be coming back the next two years, so I think it would be in all of our best interests if they tuned it a bit to open it up and make it a more exciting race. It's a top-10 but not one we can be proud of since we didn't really feel like we beat anybody. We just rode around and didn't crash like a lot of others."

***

The 2009 IndyCar Series season continues June 27 with the SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond International Raceway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 8 p.m. (EDT) by VERSUS. 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 Toronto 100 on July 11 at the Streets of Toronto. The race will be telecast at 11 p.m. on July 13. The Miller Lite 100 will be telecast at 4 p.m. on June 22 by VERSUS.

-credit: irl

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Rusty Wallace , Tomas Scheckter , Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Townsend Bell , Dan Wheldon , Buddy Rice , Ryan Briscoe , Chip Ganassi , Mike Conway , Hideki Mutoh , Gustavo Yacaman , Danica Patrick
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing