Franchitti Wins It All In IndyCar Finale At Homestead
Who would have guessed that Saturday’s season-ending IndyCar Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway would have gone caution-free? Not many but Dario Franchitti sure was glad that it did as he used a fuel-mileage strategy to win the race and also the 2009 championship.
Ryan Briscoe finished second Saturday and third in the championship and Scott Dixon finished third in the race and second in points.
The championship was the second for Franchitti and it came in the year in which he returned to open-wheel racing after taking a whirl at NASCAR.
Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Franchitti – forced into a the fuel strategy after falling well behind Briscoe and Dixon at about the mid way point of the race – ran out of fuel during post-race burnouts.
The race was the first in the history of the series to be run caution-free and the timing of that could not have been worse for Team Penske’s Briscoe.
Briscoe had a big lead but with seven laps to go, had to pit for a splash of fuel. That was Franchitti had been hopeing for and what he needed to win the race and the championship.
His victory was by 4.788 seconds.
Only a victory would have netted him the championship. He finished the season with 616 points. Dixon had 605 and Briscoe 604.
“What a year for this Target team,” said Franchitti. “It was so much fun to be a part of. I’ve been really lucky my whole career to have a great team. I can’t thank the team enough and I can’t thank Target enough. I’m bloody delighted right now.
“Scott and I raced each other the whole season and it just came down to this.”
The scenario was reminiscent of 2007, when Franchitti and Dixon battled to the conclusion of the season finale with the title in the balance. Dixon’s car was starved for fuel on the final lap, enabling Franchitti to charge ahead, win the race and the championship with Andretti Green Racing. Dixon, like Briscoe, pitted on Lap 144 and had to come in for a splash (192 for Dixon; 194 for Briscoe) or risk running dry.
“At the start of the race, I didn’t think it would be wise to go out and burn a lot of fuel,” Dixon said. “It ended being the fact. You just have to take it on the chin and come back and try again next year.”
Either way, the pace dictated the outcome that gave Target Chip Ganassi Racing its third series title.
“Like 2007, I just had to try to save some fuel and stay on strategy,” said Franchitti, who became the series’ third multiple champion. “We’re always trying to go a little farther (final service stop on Lap 150). The car was a bit imbalanced on the first stint and that allowed Scott and Ryan to get away a little bit. We made it a lot better the second stint and the car was really good, but by then we were fuel conservation mode. I was going as fast as I could, but they had me turn (the fuel setting) way down.”
Briscoe led a field-high 103 laps to clinch the two bonus points.
“It’s pretty frustrating,” said Briscoe, who finished with a series record-tying eight single-season runner-up finishes. “It was one of the best races I’ve ever run. I just hate that it came down to fuel strategy. I thought it was going to be between me and Scott, definitely. I guess the 10 car had the advantage.”
Results Saturday of the Firestone Indy 300 IndyCar Series event at the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):
1. (1) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
2. (3) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
3. (2) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
4. (15) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda, 199, Running
5. (11) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, 199, Running
6. (19) Hideki Mutoh, Dallara-Honda, 198, Running
7. (10) Mario Moraes, Dallara-Honda, 198, Running
8. (5) Alex Lloyd, Dallara-Honda, 198, Running
9. (12) Tomas Scheckter, Dallara-Honda, 197, Running
10. (13) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 197, Running
11. (6) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 197, Running
12. (4) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Honda, 197, Running
13. (21) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 196, Running
14. (9) Raphael Matos, Dallara-Honda, 196, Running
15. (20) Mike Conway, Dallara-Honda, 195, Running
16. (18) E.J. Viso, Dallara-Honda, 194, Running
17. (17) Milka Duno, Dallara-Honda, 194, Running
18. (16) Sarah Fisher, Dallara-Honda, 187, Running
19. (7) Danica Patrick, Dallara-Honda, 185, Running
20. (22) Robert Doornbos, Dallara-Honda, 166, Mechanical
21. (14) Dan Wheldon, Dallara-Honda, 150, Contact
22. (8) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 58, Mechanical
23. (23) Jaques Lazier, Dallara-Honda, 23, Mechanical
Winner’s average speed: 201.420 mph
Time of race: 1:28:28.3117
Margin of victory: 4.7888 seconds
Cautions: No caution flags
Lead changes: 12 among 4 drivers
Lap leaders: Franchitti 1-5, Dixon 6-47, Franchitti 48-50,
Castroneves 51-52, Dixon 53-62, Briscoe 63-95, Franchitti 96-100, Briscoe 101-105, Dixon 106-123, Briscoe 124-144, Franchitti 145-150, Briscoe 151-194, Franchitti 195-200.
Point standings: Franchitti 616, Dixon 605, Briscoe 604, Castroneves 433, Patrick 393, Kanaan 386, Rahal 385, Andretti 380, Wilson 354, Wheldon 354.No Comment