IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2007-09-10

Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines 1. Franchitti revels over first championship 2. The closest race - ever 3. Mutoh impresses with eighth-place in debut 1. Franchitti revels over first championship: If Dario Franchitti needed a...

Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines
1. Franchitti revels over first championship
2. The closest race - ever
3. Mutoh impresses with eighth-place in debut

1. Franchitti revels over first championship: If Dario Franchitti needed a sign that Sept. 9 was going to be his day, he got all he needed before he strapped himself into his car.

* First, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president and chief operating officer Joie Chitwood gave him two Indianapolis 500 badges -- a 2007 badge with the No. 27 to commemorate his win and a 1965 badge with the No. 1127 commemorating the win of his hero Jim Clark.

* Then the police officer who escorted him for driver intros had a number 27 on the handcuffs he was carrying on his belt.

It all added up to a perfect day for the Indianapolis 500 winner, who got by title rival Scott Dixon in Turn 3 of the final lap to win the PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 and claim the 2007 IndyCar Series title.

"I'm happier than I thought I would (be)," Franchitti said after claiming his first open-wheel championship in the United States. "I thought winning the Indy 500, winning that, that was a great feeling. But this is it's different. But I think because it's the whole year rolled into one, it means a hell of a lot."

It marked the third consecutive season that the Indianapolis 500 winner has also won the season championship as Franchitti joined Dan Wheldon and Sam Hornish Jr., as the only drivers to pull off the double.

"(Winning the Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series title) are two of the goals I definitely set for myself a long time ago when I came over here," he said. "I set my goal to win every race, obviously. And then when I came over to the IndyCar Series, the Indy 500 was a big goal. And the championship, to accomplish both those is massive."

The win also helps ease some of the memories of his last championship fight when Franchitti lost out on the 1999 CART title to Juan Pablo Montoya on the same day his best friend Greg Moore was fatally injured in a racing accident.

While he could empathize with what his rival had been through, Franchitti said he appreciated the efforts of the Target Chip Ganassi Racing crew.

"I appreciate the challenge that Scott and his team gave us all year, and they were tough. They really were tough. And, again, that's another reason, when you beat competition of that nature, when you look at the people, the people that you've had to beat on the way to doing this, that gives me satisfaction knowing I've done a good job, my team has done a good job.

"It's cool that it came down to just Scott and I. There was something about that. We said all year, even with a 65 point lead, I kept saying it's going to be close. Comes down to Scott and I last corner, last lap. That pretty much sums up the year."

***

2. The closest race - ever: If Logan Gomez and Alex Lloyd raced anything besides Indy Pro Series cars, their close finish at Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 9 might have been ruled a dead heat.

Gomez beat Lloyd to the finish line by 0.0005 of a second -- about 1.65 inches at 188 mph -- to win the Chicagoland 100 in the closest finish in Indy Racing League history.

Fortunately, the Indy Racing League added a fourth decimal point to its Timing & Scoring application in 2001, becoming the only motorsports sanctioning body in the world to score to ten-thousandths of a second. A high-speed camera supports the system by taking pictures of the start/finish line every ten-thousandth of a second.

Other major forms of motorsports, including Formula One, NASCAR and NHRA score to three decimal points. Racing disciplines such as horse racing and Olympic sports such as swimming, speed skating and track and field all score to just two decimal places.

Time by the numbers (in seconds)

0.0005 -- Logan Gomez's margin of victory over Alex Lloyd in Sunday's Indy Pro Series Chicagoland 100.

0.002 -- Closest finish in NASCAR Nextel Cup history (Ricky Craven over Kurt Busch at Darlington in 2003).

0.0170 -- Previous closest finish in Indy Pro Series history (Mark Taylor over Ed Carpenter at Chicagoland in 2003).

0.010 -- Closest finish in Formula One history (Peter Gethin over Ronnie Peterson at Monza in 1971).

0.01 -- Time of a hummingbird's wing beat.

0.1 -- Average time to blink an eye.

***

3. Mutoh impresses with eighth-place in debut: Super Aguri Panther Racing rookie Hideki Mutoh had a successful IndyCar Series debut at the Peak Antifreeze Indy 300.

The Indy Pro Series championship runner-up, who started 13th, finished in eighth place, the best result of Panther's three cars. The rookie also turned the fastest lap of the race as he passed Buddy Rice on Lap 173.

"My goal was to finish top 10, but that was like a dream, so I'm very happy that I was able to make that dream come true," said Mutoh, who clinched the Indy Pro Series' Lucas Oil Rookie of the Year title on the strength of two wins. "I enjoyed racing with other veteran drivers and I would like to thank the Super Aguri Panther team, spotter Mike Ford, team owner John Barnes and all our sponsors for giving me this opportunity.

"Nothing about next year has been decided, but hopefully I'll be able to step up into the IndyCar Series full time and start my new racing career here in this league."

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Panther Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing