IRL: Iowa: Honda race report

Franchitti Makes Honda History in Iowa Indianapolis 500 champion Dario Franchitti made it two wins in the last four races, leading his Andretti Green Racing teammate Marco Andretti across the finish line Sunday at Iowa Speedway in an ...

Franchitti Makes Honda History in Iowa

Indianapolis 500 champion Dario Franchitti made it two wins in the last four races, leading his Andretti Green Racing teammate Marco Andretti across the finish line Sunday at Iowa Speedway in an incident-filled inaugural Iowa Corn Growers Indy 250 in front of a sellout crowd of 35,838.

Starting on the inside of the second row, Franchitti successfully avoided all three multi-car crashes that eliminated or delayed more than half the 19-car starting field, then held command throughout the final third of the 250-lap event, leading 96 laps for his second IndyCar Series victory of the season and a healthy 51-point lead in the championship standings after eight of 17 races. It also was the second 1-2 result for Andretti Green Racing in the last three races, as Tony Kanaan and Franchitti finished first and second, respectively, at The Milwaukee Mile earlier this month.

Dario's win gives him a total of 16 Honda-powered victories in North American open-wheel competition, passing Alex Zanardi (15 wins) as Honda's most successful driver in Indy-style racing.

It was another successful weekend for the Honda Indy V-8 engine, with 100 per cent reliability throughout 7,241 laps of testing, practice, qualifying and Sunday's race -- a total of 6,493 miles -- in temperatures ranging from the mid-90s on Friday to the low 70s during the race.

Less than seven-hundredths of a second behind at the finish, Andretti had his best result in what has been a difficult 2007 season, and his first oval-track finish of the year. The second-year IndyCar driver led four laps and challenged his senior teammate over the final 19 laps, sometimes pulling alongside but never quite able to pass.

In addition to Andretti, Scott Sharp in third, fourth-place Buddy Rice and seventh-running Sarah Fisher all had their best results this year. Panther Racing's Vitor Meira led 71 laps and appeared to be in contention for his first IndyCar victory before suspension failure ended his day on Lap 216. The three accidents eliminated Danica Patrick, A.J. Foyt IV, Sam Hornish Jr., Kosuke Matsuura, Kanaan, Jeff Simmons and Tomas Scheckter.

Dario Franchitti (#27 Andretti Green Racing Honda) Started 3rd, finished 1st, second win of 2007 and 6th career IndyCar victory, seventh top-five finish in eight races this season. Becomes Honda's all-time winning driver with 16 open-wheel victories in CART and IndyCar competition: "It was just a great job by the guys all weekend long. This may be a short track, but it drives a lot like a super speedway. We took a bit of a gamble on our last pit stop [taking fuel only and running the final 104 laps on the same set of tires] to gain some track position, so I certainly didn't need to see that last yellow. All credit to Firestone and to Honda, who once again gave us a great engine. There were no team orders, and I know Marco [Andretti] wants a victory just as much as I do, so that made the final run pretty exciting for both of us. It was a very physical race, but a lot of fun at the same time."

Marco Andretti (#26 Andretti Green Racing Honda) Started 12th, finished 2nd, best finish of 2007 and first oval track finish: "This place is different. The G [loads] are incredible. It's very physical, and I've been fighting a sinus infection or something today, so I'm beat. In the final laps, I tried as hard as I could but I was running too high [on the track] and could never get a really good run on Dario [Franchitti]. Finishing second is definitely a confidence boost for me after the way the season started. It certainly helped us in the championship points and was a great day for Andretti Green Racing."

Robert Clarke (President, Honda Performance Development) on today's race: "It was another successful weekend for Honda, with 100 per cent reliability throughout the weekend in weather conditions that varied from hot and humid to very cool. Congratulations to the Andretti Green organization and in particular to Dario Franchitti, who today passed the great Alex Zanardi to become our most successful driver in North American open-wheel racing with 16 victories. Dario has been a member of the Honda family since 1997, and I couldn't be more pleased for him to have this honor."

-credit: honda

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Sarah Fisher , Scott Sharp , Dario Franchitti , Alex Zanardi , Tony Kanaan , Buddy Rice , Marco Andretti , Kosuke Matsuura , Jeff Simmons , Robert Clark , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing