Franchitti Prevails to Reclaim Toronto Crown Dario Franchitti recovered from a problematic first pit stop to claim Sunday's Honda Indy Toronto, his third victory of the 2009, and return to the top of the IndyCar drivers' championship standings...
Franchitti Prevails to Reclaim Toronto Crown
Dario Franchitti recovered from a problematic first pit stop to claim Sunday's Honda Indy Toronto, his third victory of the 2009, and return to the top of the IndyCar drivers' championship standings after 10 of 17 races. It also was Franchitti's 21st victory scored with Honda power in CART and IndyCar competition, extending his record as Honda's most successful open-wheel racer.
Starting from the pole, Franchitti led the first 24 laps around the 1.755-mile street circuit, but a delay changing his left rear wheel during a planned "short fill" stop dropped him to 12th place. The Target Chip Ganassi driver made up three positions on track, and then caught a major break when the yellow caution flag flew on Lap 59, just as he was making his final stop. That enabled Franchitti to resume in second behind Helio Castroneves, who Franchitti passed on Lap 65 as the pair entered Turn 3 at the end of the long Shoreline Drive straight. Franchitti led the rest of the way to claim the win and a narrow, two-point lead in the drivers' championship over his fourth-finishing teammate, Scott Dixon.
The 23 drivers in this weekend's field ran a total of 7,149.9 miles in practice, qualifying and racing without a single engine-related failure for the Honda HI9R Indy V-8.
The pair of Canadian drivers in the field gave the large Toronto crowd many exciting moments, as Alex Tagliani led 21 laps for Conquest Racing and local favorite Paul Tracy ran second for most of that same period. However, Tracy would drop out on Lap 65 after colliding with Castroneves as the pair fought for second place. Tagliani would also be delayed by his involvement in a three-car pile-up with Tomas Scheckter and Mario Moraes, but would recover to finish ninth.
Following Franchitti home at the checkers was Ryan Briscoe, notching his fifth second-place finish in the last six races, and teammate Will Power, making the third of a planned seven race starts in a third Team Penske entry. Justin Wilson, winner of last week's race at Watkins Glen, survived his own instances of contact to finish fifth behind Dixon, while Danica Patrick posted yet another strong road-course performance to climb from 18th on the starting grid to sixth at the finish.
After racing on four consecutive weekends, the IndyCar Series now takes a one-week break before resuming in Canada with the July 26 Rexall Edmonton Indy.
Dario Franchitti (#10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) Started 1st, finished 1st, 3rd win of 2009, 21st open-wheel racing win, all with Honda power: "I love coming to Canada. It's been 10 years since my first victory here [in the 1999 CART race] and it's great to be back once again. Our car was fast all day, and particularly quick on restarts, and that worked to our advantage several times today. With all the different pit strategies, I got caught behind a lot of slower cars for a long time in the middle stint. But we got a huge break on the last pit stop, with the timing of the yellow flag, and that got us up at the front once again. I could see Helio [Castroneves] was struggling on the 'Reds' [alternate compound tires] and once we were past him, it came down to nailing the restarts and not making any mistakes to the end."
Ryan Briscoe (#6 Team Penske Honda) Started 11th, finished 2nd, his fifth 2nd-place finish in the last six races: "It definitely was an exciting race. I think the track layout makes for great racing. With the long straight leading to the tight corner at Turn 3, it's one of the few street courses where you can really pass. We never had to save fuel, either, and I think that also made for good racing. Right at the start, I got hit and had to pit to change tires. That put us almost a lap down, but then the next caution gave us a chance to get back into the game. Once the pit stops played out, we were back near the front."
Erik Berkman (President, Honda Performance Development) on today's race: "I think the fans got quite a show today. There certainly was a lot of action throughout the race, and they got to see both Paul Tracy and Alex Tagliani contend for the victory. Congratulations to Dario Franchitti on extending his record for most Honda open-wheel victories, and to his entire Target Chip Ganassi Racing team. Thanks also to our associates at HPD and Ilmor for four consecutive perfect races with the Honda Indy V-8. And finally, thanks to our Honda Canada neighbors for helping to return this great event to the streets of Toronto."
-credit: honda racing