FRANCHITTI HOLDS OFF POWER TO WIN AT MID-OHIO LEXINGTON, Ohio (Sunday, Aug. 8, 2010) - Dario Franchitti is beginning to chip away at Will Power's IZOD IndyCar Series points lead. The Scotsman held off Power to score his second win of the season...
FRANCHITTI HOLDS OFF POWER TO WIN AT MID-OHIO
LEXINGTON, Ohio (Sunday, Aug. 8, 2010) - Dario Franchitti is beginning to chip away at Will Power's IZOD IndyCar Series points lead. The Scotsman held off Power to score his second win of the season at the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by Westfield Insurance at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
It was the first victory for the Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver at the 2.258-mile circuit, where he holds the track record and won his first pole 12 years ago.
By holding off Power over the final 15 laps after a Lap 70 restart to win by 0.5234 (the third-closest road/street course finish in series history), Franchitti closed to 41 points of the overall championship leader. Next up, after the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma, are four oval races to close the season.
Though it was too little, too late to take the Mario Andretti Road Championship Trophy from Power, the Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver was satisfied with the outing on the physically demanding course.
"I think the key to the race, obviously, was the Target car was very fast," said Franchitti. "I drove every lap like it was a qualifying lap today, whether I was behind Will or ahead of Will. But the key was that first pit stop by the Target boys to get me out ahead, especially a 35-foot pit box. It's the tightest we run. In practice, we couldn't get the thing out of the box with Will parked in his or get it in properly. But when the race win was on the line, it didn't seem quite as difficult and managed to pass him. I think that was the key today, because we were incredibly evenly matched on the track."
That brief stop for tires and a 22-gallon load of ethanol - during the first full-course caution period of the race - came on Lap 25. Alex Tagliani, who pitted three laps earlier, assumed the point and led the next 30 laps. Franchitti and Power, running 1-2, both pitted on Lap 60 under green - with Franchitti again slipping out a tick of a second quicker.
"Dario, he just got out before us," said Power, whose pit stall was the first at pit-out. "I mean, that was it. I couldn't do anything about it. Obviously those guys did a really good stop. Initially, I thought they might have short-filled some."
Power remained on Franchitti's rear wing for the closing laps, never more than 0.6157 of a second back.
"I was trying really hard at the end to make him make a mistake, letting him see me in his mirrors, letting him know if he made one little slip-up, I'm going to get him," Power said. "That was the only way I was going to get by."
Power's Team Penske teammate, Helio Castroneves, finished third and Tagliani finished a season-high fourth in the No. 77 FAZZT Race Team car. Scott Dixon was fifth in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing entry.
Also Sunday Martin Plowman scored his first career Firestone Indy Lights victory, leading the Mid-Ohio 100 flag-to-flag. Plowman is the fifth different race winner in Firestone Indy Lights this season.
Three over-the-wall crew members for the #32 KV Racing Technology car of Mario Moraes were injured in the pit lane incident during the morning warmup. Fueler Mike Briggs, Anna Chatten who works the air jack, and the left front changer Chris Bennett were treated and released from the infield care center. Mike Guger and Alex Cage substiteed for KV Racing Technology crew members Anna Chatten and Mike Briggs.
Simona de Silvestro started 10th in the No. 78 Team Stargate Worlds/HVM Racing car and finished a season-best eighth -- one position better than the previous high at Toronto.
Bertrand Baguette advanced four positions to finish a season-best 11th in the No. 36 Conquest Racing RACB car. Alex Lloyd, driving the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America car for Dale Coyne Racing, moved up eight positions to 13th -- his best road/street course finish of the season.
Raphael Matos advanced 12 positions to finish seventh in the No. 2 HP de Ferran Dragon Racing car, his fourth top 10 on a road/street course.
J.R. Hildebrand, the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights champion who was making his IZOD IndyCar Series debut, gained two positions to finish 16th in the No. 24 RollCoater car for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. Francesco Dracone, also making his series debut in the No. 34 car, overcame a couple of spins to finish 22nd.
Danica Patrick tied Scott Dixon's series record with 28 consecutive races running at the finish. Dario Franchitti made it 26 in a row.
Army Col. Melvin Hull of Dayton, Ohio, has missed attending one Indianapolis 500 since 1969. Please excuse him. He was deployed overseas.
Col. Hull, a 26-year Army veteran, on race day was able to catch up with his favorite driver - Tony Kanaan - who he first met while the IZOD IndyCar Series veteran was driving for Tasman Motorsports in Indy Lights.
"I've probably been to a hundred Indy car races," Col. Hull said. "I've followed it since I was a kid, my father has followed it since the '50s and my little brother is named A.J. We're really excited about the direction the league is going."
Col. Hull returned from a year's deployment to Iraq, where he "followed the series every day on indycar.com," a few days before the '500' and has been on leave since. He wished Kanaan "good luck" in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio and the 2011 Indianapolis 500.
"My dad and I root for him real hard at Indy, where he's had a lot of bad luck," Col. Hull said. "Eventually, he's going to win there."
As part of the Racing For Cancer initiative, Andretti Autosport played host to 10-year-old Tiana Bishop on race day.
The Defiance, Ohio, resident is undergoing aggressive chemotherapy to combat stage 4 Rhabdomyosarcoma (cancer of the connective tissue). She met the four Andretti Autosport drivers and joined Ryan Hunter-Reay during the driver introductions -- even riding along in the Honda S2000 for a parade lap.
Visit www.racingforcancer.org for more info and to make a donation.
Pro Football Hall of Famer Lynn Swann waved the green flag and Erik Berkman, president of Honda Performance Development, gave the command to start engines.
"It's intoxicating to watch these cars make the turns at such high speeds," the Super Bowl-winning wide receiver with the Pittsburgh Steelers said.
HONDA INDY 200 AT MID-OHIO POST-RACE NOTES:
* Today's margin of victory (.5234) is the third closet road/street finish in IZOD IndyCar Series history.
* This is Dario Franchitti's second win of the 2010 season. He previously won at Indianapolis in May.
* This is Franchitti's 15th career IZOD IndyCar Series victory and his 25th career Indy car win (combining IZOD IndyCar Series and CART). He currently is tied with Gordon Johncock ranking 12th on the all-time Indy car win list.
* This is Franchitti's first career win at Mid-Ohio. His previous best finish was second in 2007.
* Will Power finished second, his sixth podium finish of the 2010 season. This is Power's fifth consecutive top-five finish. He also extended his streak of consecutive races with laps lead to seven.
* Helio Castroneves finished third, his third podium finish of the 2010 season.
* Alex Tagliani finished fourth, his best finish of the 2010 season. Tagliani's previous best finish was sixth at St. Petersburg.
* Simona De Silvestro finished eighth, a career best IZOD IndyCar Series finish. Here previous best finish was ninth at Toronto.
* Bertrand Baguette finished 11th, a career best finish IZOD IndyCar Series. His previous best finish was 14th at Edmonton.
* Danica Patrick has tied Scott Dixon's record of 28 consecutive races running at the finishes.
HONDA INDY 200 AT MID-OHIO POST-RACE QUOTES:
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 77 CV Logistics/FAZZT Race Team , finished fourth): "They called it right. Rob (Edwards) is a pretty risky guy. (Engineers) Allen (McDonald), Brendan (Cleve), Robert (Gue), they all went for it. We had a great car. The boys did a fantastic job on the car, considering we didn't test here. We've been having a few little issues on the road course car. Our best car is the oval, for some reason. Our second best car is street course and our third best car is the road course. It felt good (to lead laps). It is very difficult when you're in the back. This track is so difficult to pass on, so I'm very pleased that the strategy worked out."
VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing, finished 15th): "Any day you make up nine positions at Mid Ohio, you can't complain too much. It was a tough race and a complicated race. We learned a bunch for next year and as tough as this series is, I feel we are still making strides."
MARIO MORAES (No. 32 KV Racing Technology): "We were looking to gain some points here today and we did that. We still have a chance for a top-ten in the final standings. After what happened this morning with the pit accident (when Moraes' car made contact with two crew members), I was feeling pretty bad. It was in mind for a long time. But we didn't have any problems with our pit stops. The team did a great job. Now we move onto Sonoma. I think we can be strong there."
TAKUMA SATO (No. 5 LOTUS - KV Racing Technology): "It was an exciting start. Dario and I were side-by-side going into the sweeping corner at the start and I took the second position. But soon Dario was able to get by me on the back straight. I then settled in third and ran directly behind the top two. My engineers were very happy with my pace and fuel savings. Under the yellow caution period, I came into the pits with the leaders. Unfortunately, the pit stop was very long and I lost many positions. On the restart, I had a good opportunity to get alongside Scott (Dixon) at the end of the back straight. But the inside line was so slippery, I struggled to stop and ran wide. Unfortunately, that ended my race. It is very disappointing."
E.J. VISO (No. 8 PDVSA - KV Racing Technology): "I want to congratulate the team because we had a strong weekend overall. With the right breaks, I think Takuma (Sato) and I had a shot for the pole position here on Saturday. We made a lot of progress with the cars. In the race, I was trying to save fuel as much as possible. I was trying to extend the pit window. Justin attempted to make a run on me at the end of the back straight. I don't think he was even close to being alongside of me. I hit my normal braking point and turned into the corner. I suddenly felt the hit of my right rear tire. He was trying to overtake me, but his braking was extremely late. I was already turning when I got hit. The right rear suspension was bent. It is very sad because we had a good car and I felt we could run faster, too."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, finished fifth): "It was a tough day for the #9 Target car. We were running fairly well and I think we definitely had the speed to be in the top 3, or even a chance to win if we would have used the right strategy. It was tough to pass because the competition was so thick, but when you have a bad pit stop and drop back to twelfth, it's pretty hard to pick it back up. I am pleased with a seventh place finish after my pit stop incident."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske, finished second): "Dario (Franchitti) was the guy with the speed, and we just couldn't get around him. It's hard to pass here, and I was just trying to force him to make a mistake. I wasn't going to make it easy on him. I am happy with the day and it was a good result, but the man we need to beat, beat us. Dario is the guy that is chasing us right now and we need to finish ahead of him."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, finished sixth): "It was a tough day. We were struggling with a lot of understeer at first, but we made some adjustments during the first pit stop. We had slight contact in the pit box between (Ryan) Hunter-Reay and (Helio) Castroneves going three-wide in the smallest pits of the year. We bent our rear suspension and this really made for a handful the rest of the race. It was frustrating having two races in a row where I have done the whole thing with a bent suspension. I am pretty happy to bring it home and we are lucky to not have had more damage. We got some good points and now we just have to chase down those Ganassi guys."
RAPHAEL MATOS (No. 2 HP de Ferran Dragon Racing, finished seventh): "It was a very exciting race! I have to thank the team for great pit stops and strategy. We needed a good result after our qualifying result wasn't what we had hoped. The team and engineers gave me a really good car. I was able to conserve fuel when I needed to and was able to be competitive and push when I needed to as well. I am extremely happy with the end result. We'll carry some momentum and some new knowledge gained here into the race in two weeks at Infineon."
J.R. HILDEBRAND (No. 24 Roll Coater/DRR): "There were some good things and some bad things about today. I think that our pace was really good and I was able to push for most of the race and pass guys. For me, this was my first time dealing with any kind of fuel mileage and in the first stint it ended up being irrelevant the way that the yellows worked out, but we were able to do a good job of keeping the pace with the guys in front of us and get the mileage that we were looking for. For me, those were all big positives. On the flip side of that, I made some kind of obvious mistakes that I should make, so the next time around I will be a little more used to the car and the circumstances. I don't think that I will be making those kind of errors like driving off the track on the exit of corners, or getting a little bit of push that I'm not expecting, and for whatever reason, these cars seem to be a little more sensitive to it than what I'm used to. Our pit stops on my end were fairly dismal as a whole. This was my first time dealing with them in a race situation and they are a little bit different than the pit stops I have dealt with in the past. In fairness, I don't think that is much of an excuse and from that perspective the only way to go is up and I think we can run a mistake free race and qualify a little bit better, and we will be in the thick of it. I think we had the pace to be running up front. There were some positives and some negatives, but all around it was a pretty solid day."
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 22 Team Z-Line Designs/DRR): "I'm sorry for everyone on the Z-Line Designs car and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. We had a good race going; the car was good and we were keeping up on black tires. I got a run on EJ down into Turn 4. We weren't quite wheel to wheel, but I was three quarters alongside when we hit the brakes. He went for the apex so I tried to back out of it, but he just didn't leave any racing room for me. Whether it's your corner or not, you've got to leave some room for the other guy to get out of it."
GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 02 National Tires & Battery): "Initially I think we were okay but we never quite had the ultimate pace that we needed. I felt like we were pretty consistent and conservative. I had a lot of understeer but the rear of the car was pretty good and we were able to move up a little bit. I tried to make a move on Wheldon and it was the second or third lap on the red tires and I went up underneath him and I think the car bottomed and right when it bottomed, it locked. Unfortunately I just tried to make too bold of a move, too early. I was hoping that I could get away with it because I didn't want to be stuck behind him long but it just didn't work. Those tires were flat spotted pretty bad so we came in and put primary tires on and from then on we just couldn't get a handle on the car. We passed Danica on the last lap but the car wasn't good. It was a difficult weekend. We wanted to give National Tire & Battery a better result."
HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 06 Formula Dream/Panasonic): "At the beginning of the race I was able to keep the same pace as those ahead of me while saving fuel big time. Unfortunately there was a problem on the outside rear and I dropped some positions there and I just couldn't get them back. On the second pit stop I had a clutch issue and lost even more when I couldn't leave the pits. I was quite happy with the speed of the car; I think we were very competitive speed-wise."
ADAM CARROLL (No. 27 Team AFS): "I've never struggled like this before. It's a hard championship, and the car isn't like anything I'm used to driving. At least we finished the race and got more miles under our belt. You get difficult weekends like this sometimes. We'll come back stronger, and hopefully we'll get another chance to get out there and prove what we can do. Thanks to everyone for their help."
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team GoDaddy.com): "It was definitely a frustrating weekend for the GoDaddy.com car. We made the most of the day but unfortunately we came up short. Hopefully our hard work will show in Sonoma."
DAN WHELDON, No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing): "We started off and held position at a reasonable pace and then the National Guard Panther Racing guys had a great pit stop on the first stop, and the Andretti Autosport guys were kind enough to give us some room and that made a huge difference. So with our guys doing a good stop and Danica's guys helping us we were able to move up quite a few positions. Then in the second stint we were really good and then in the third stint for whatever reason from the get-go we had a lot of understeer. As I continued to push I blistered the front tire and the understeer just continued to get worse and I went off the track a few times and unfortunately just didn't have the pace on that last stint. But the Panther guys did a really good job, and worked hard all weekend. The IZOD IndyCar Series competition is just so close that if you have one bad stint it makes the difference between a Top Ten and, unfortunately for us, being outside the Top Ten."
BERTRAND BAGUETTE (No. 36 Conquest Racing RACB): "I think it was a good race for us. We had a good first stint where we were saving fuel. Unfortunately, just before the first pit stop we had a yellow flag so that didn't help with our strategy. We then put the Alternate Firestone tires for our second stint and that was a really good choice. With all the cautions during my second stint, I was able to overtake on every restart. The car was very good in that stint. I did a little mistake close to the end that probably cost us a top 10. I was trying to get by Andretti when I went a little wide into the marbles and I lost some of the grip and that's when Matos got by me. Overall, I'm happy with my race, and my weekend, we could have been better in qualifying but in general it was another encouraging weekend."
FRANCESCO DRACONE (No. 34 Conquest Racing): "For my first IZOD IndyCar Series race, it was a positive experience because I was able to have a good pace. The first stint was a little more difficult but then with the Alternate Firestone tires it was going really well. Unfortunately I made two mistakes, one in which I ended up damaging the front wing, which was disappointing. But overall, we finished the race and I was able to gain more experience. So I think I can be satisfied with this first weekend in the series."
The next IZOD IndyCar Series race is the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma on Aug. 22 at Infineon Raceway. The race will be telecast in high-definition by VERSUS at 5 p.m. The race will also be broadcast by the IMS Radio Network and on XM Satellite Radio 145 and Sirius 212. The next Firestone Indy Lights race is the Carneros 100 on Aug. 22 at Infineon Raceway.