FRANCHITTI SCORES DOMINATING WIN AT RICHMOND RICHMOND, Va. -- IndyCar Series point leader Dario Franchitti stretched his lead to 61 points with a dominating victory in the SunTrust Indy Challenge presented by XM at the Richmond International ...
FRANCHITTI SCORES DOMINATING WIN AT RICHMOND
RICHMOND, Va. -- IndyCar Series point leader Dario Franchitti stretched his lead to 61 points with a dominating victory in the SunTrust Indy Challenge presented by XM at the Richmond International Raceway.
Franchitti, who started the No. 27 Canadian Club Dallara/Honda/Firestone from pole position, won for the second time in six days and the third time this season. He beat Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon to the line by 0.4194 of a second and led a series-record 242 laps (of the race's 250).
Andretti Green Racing drivers swept the short tracks this season, with Franchitti also winning at Iowa Speedway and Tony Kanaan at The Milwaukee Mile.
Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Dan Wheldon finished third, with Kanaan fourth. Dreyer & Reinbold Racing's Buddy Rice advanced seven positions to finish fifth, his second consecutive top five.
Danica Patrick, the third Andretti Green Racing driver, was sixth, followed by Vision Racing's Tomas Scheckter and Rahal Letterman Racing's Scott Sharp. Delphi Panther Racing's Vitor Meira, who was driving an untested backup car because of a practice crash a day earlier, started and finished ninth. Vision Racing's Ed Carpenter was 10th.
RACE DAY NOTES:
Brian Barnhart, president of the Indy Racing League competition and operation division and chief official of tonight's race, is celebrating his birthday today. At the conclusion of the drivers' meeting, while the attendees were singing "Happy Birthday" drivers Helio Castroneves and Marco Andretti attacked Barnhart with birthday cake, a prank which is commonly pulled on drivers celebrating their birthdays. Barnhart joked he may look into the incident to see if any drivers were involved.
SUNTRUST INDY CHALLENGE PRESENTED BY XM POST-RACE NOTES:
* This is Dario Franchitti's third win of the season and the seventh of his IndyCar Series career. He is now in sole possession of sixth place on the IndyCar Series' all-time victory list.
* Franchitti's average speed of 133.408 was the fastest at Richmond International Raceway, bettering the 2006 race record set by Sam Hornish Jr. (129.572 mph).
* Dario Franchitti led 241 laps tonight, setting an IndyCar Series record for most laps led. The previous record was 224 by Buddy Lazier here at Richmond in 2001.
* This is Andretti Green Racing's 28th win in the IndyCar Series, the most by any entrant in the IndyCar Series.
* Scott Dixon finished second for the fourth time this season -- his seventh top-10 finish of the season. With his finish, Dixon tied Tony Kanaan's record of 25 consecutive race finishes.
* Dan Wheldon finished third, his fifth top-five finish of the season.
* Buddy Rice finished fifth, his second-consecutive top five finish.
SUNTRUST INDY CHALLENGE PRESENTED BY XM POST-RACE QUOTES:
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Canadian Club Dallara/Honda/Firestone, winner SunTrust Indy Challenge): "I enjoy driving (Richmond) a lot. I think it suits my style because you have to feel what the car is doing. The Canadian Club guys have given me really good cars here so it makes my job a little bit easier. I have to say big thank you to the engineering staff at AGR. We took some big gambles last night. Allen McDonald, my engineer, took an educated guess and it really worked out today."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished second): "I think we had the better car, but it was just track position all night. (Toward the end of the race) Dario (Franchitti) needed to save fuel and you could tell he was using Sam (Hornish Jr.) as a buffer. That was the time we needed to get him. I'm feeling good about these short tracks because we've been struggling on them as a team for the past few years. It's good to run strong on them, and I'm looking forward to Watkins Glen."
DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished third): "It was a very difficult race and very much unlike past races here. When you're in the lead it's good but when you were trying to get to the leader and pass it was really difficult. To win around here you have to be deserving and we did have a good car and a chance to challenge. Dario (Franchitti) deserved the win but at the end of the day for us that was the wrong person to win when you are trying to make up points in the championship. From the Target team point of view this was a good result especially after our last few races."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished fourth): "I'm really disappointed. It was really tough today. We just never seemed to get the Team 7-Eleven car where I thought it needed to be. We were just hanging on today."
BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished fifth): "I'm happy. The team is showing it has what it takes to compete. We are missing a couple of pieces, but we're capable of running well. We were fast in a test in Milwaukee and another test at Mid-Ohio."
TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 2 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished seventh): "For sure, it's good to get a seventh place finish at Richmond after last week's incident at Iowa, but I thought we could have finished a little higher tonight. We just couldn't catch a break all night with things like being caught out by a yellow during a pit stop and getting a bad vibration later in the race. But we stuck with it, the crew did a great job, and we were able to charge back up into seventh at the end so it was good."
SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Patron Sharp Rahal Letterman Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished eighth): "Overall it was a pretty good day for the Patron Rahal Letterman Racing Team. We had a good car for most of the race. We were loose for the first half of the race like pretty much everyone else was, but the guys did a great job of working on the car, making it better and keeping us in the hunt."
VITOR MEIRA (No. 4 Delphi Panther Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone finished ninth): "After we lost the undertray wickers, it got extremely difficult for us out there. That was the best downforce we could have in traffic. The Delphi car was pushing in the corners, then loose on exit, and that made it pretty tough out there. But the race we won was the Delphi Panther crew getting the car ready for the race after the crash. We finished well today because of all their hard work yesterday. We needed to be smart and finish well, and that's what we did."
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Hitachi Power Tools/Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished 10th): "I'm disappointed that we didn't finish a little better tonight. Starting towards the back because of points didn't help us any, but we were able to overcome a lot of that by the first pit stop. We didn't have a good first stop though and that really hurt us and caused us to lose a couple spots. Then the car went away from us a little bit in the race, but overall it was good and we ran pretty well, I just thought we could have done a little better. The Hitachi Power Tools car now has back-to-back top-10 finishes heading into Watkins Glen next weekend so that's something we can take that's positive tonight and build off of that."
BRIAN BARNHART (President, Indy Racing League Competition and Operation Division): (About Castroneves' penalty): "Helio (Castroneves) was on pit road within the boundaries of pit lane and actually was free to stop his first pass through pit lane. The Race Control (radio) channel said that the No. 3 was OK to do a full stop but they apparently chose not to and drove through. When he came back out we have to pack-up (the field) but before we have the pack up he came back in and entered a closed pit and just did a splash (of ethanol fuel) which is what you are supposed to do. Then when he came back out we had the pack-up, so we opened the pits and everybody else comes back in and he instead goes down the front straightaway trying to get around them but the No. 27 (Leader, Dario Franchitti) beat him to the blend line, and the Timing & Scoring showed that right away, so we informed the teams that it was the No. 3 behind the No. 27, the No. 3 behind the No. 27. He passed him and drove on around him and in actuality pitted a lap ahead of where he should have been."
The next IndyCar Series race is the Camping World Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix at 3:30 p.m. (ET) on July 8 at Watkins Glen International. The race will be televised live by ABC and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. The next Indy Pro Series event is the Corning Twin 100 doubleheader on July 7-8 Watkins Glen International. The race will be televised by ESPN2 on July 12. ESPN2's coverage of the Iowa 100 will be broadcast at 5:30 p.m. on July 3.