IRL: Franchitti takes Iowa win with Sunday drive

Andretti Green Racing driver Dario Franchitti won the inaugural Iowa 250 IndyCar race on Sunday by surviving multiple crashes and cruising home ahead of teammate Marco Andretti to the checkered flag. Franchitti's victory builds on his triumph in...

Andretti Green Racing driver Dario Franchitti won the inaugural Iowa 250 IndyCar race on Sunday by surviving multiple crashes and cruising home ahead of teammate Marco Andretti to the checkered flag.

Franchitti's victory builds on his triumph in the rain-shortened Indianapolis 500 that he won only four weeks ago and punctuated a continuing resurgence by the Scotsman.

"It was a great job by the (crew) guys all day," he said afterwards of his sixth career IndyCar win and second of the 2007 season.

"We took a bit of a gamble there at the end to extend our lead and it worked for us.The car was fantastic all day. We had some good restarts. It was a fun race but pretty physical though," he remarked of the lateral force this tightly configured small oval exerts on the competitors at speed.

Second was AGR teammate Andretti, finally emerging from a season-long slump (particularly on the ovals) to score a podium finish, and much in debt to his victorious teammate who helped him set up his car for the race.

"Awesome job by Andretti Green Racing with the win. It helps in the points for Dario. I've got to thank him for the setup. The guy is unbelievable at setting up the car. His cars finished 1-2," said the young Andretti.

Third was Rahal Letterman Racing's Scott Sharp, another driver who continues to impress with his racing and qualifying performance -- he was fourth on the grid to start the race Sunday -- in the bright green and black Patron Tequila Dallara.

"It's physical, that's for sure. A lot of drivers complained about it and I didn't really feel it until about 30-40 laps into the race," he said, falling into step with the remarks of Franchitti only moments earlier.

Much of the race was run under yellow as nearly half the field found itself involved in a mishap of some sort during the 250 lap run over the 7/8ths mile track in Newton, Iowa.

The accidents began on lap one when Dan Wheldon, on cold tires, got loose and collected a hapless Tomas Scheckter in turn two. Wheldon later returned to the race over one hundred laps down to try and salvage points.

When Dixon pulled off on lap thirteen for steering difficulties, Castroneves moved into the lead; only to lose it while leaving the pits on lap 73, spinning on his own sticker tires and stalling the car. He required a tow-in and a lengthy delay put him five laps down.

On lap 86 Jeff Simmons struck Tony Kanaan after the latter spun for lack of grip on the slippery track, causing yet another lengthy yellow, this time to clean up the debris.

Thirteen laps later Danica Patrick interlocked wheels with Ed Carpenter sending the two of them spinning, and sidelining Sam Hornish Jr., Anthony Foyt and Kosuke Matsuura. Carpenter's car was quickly repaired and he continued, but the rest retired to the garages.

For Franchitti, though, the day ended better than it started with a lost dog (which was later retrieved and returned) and it solidified his points lead in the IndyCar Championship. His total of 306 points moves him further ahead of Kanaan (255 points), Dixon (254 points) and Wheldon (252 points) toward the season's biggest prize.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Scott Sharp , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Marco Andretti , Kosuke Matsuura , Jeff Simmons , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick , Ed Carpenter