Franchitti wins, Helio gains position, Danica sets mark
Danica Patrick finished 21st to tied Scott Dixon’s series record with 28 consecutive races running at the finish and will race at Homestead-Miami Speedway during both the IndyCar Championship Weekend (Oct. 2) and NASCAR’s Ford Championship Weekend (Nov. 20) photo courtesy: Chris Graythen, Getty Images Sport
Two players in the fight for the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series Championship—to be crowned at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Oct. 2—battled throughout in Race 12 of 17 en route to Miami. In the end, it was Dario Franchitti prevailing at Mid-Ohio by a narrow margin of just 52 hundredths of a second over Will Power.
Franchitti's second victory of the season moved him to within 41 points of Power, who has scored all four of his wins this year at road and street courses. But just one more road-course race remains this season before the season wraps up with four consecutive oval track events, including the series-crowning race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Oct. 2. Lock in your tickets NOW to see Championship racing at Championship value: Tickets start at just $30 and are available by calling (866) 409-RACE or by logging on to THEChampionshipTrack.com.
With his victory, Franchitti’s Target Chip Ganassi Racing team closed out the weekend with three wins—the IndyCar race, preceded by the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race (Juan Pablo Montoya) and the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series (Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas).
"As far as Chip winning three races, I watched the GRAND-AM race and watched the great job that Scott and Memo did," Franchitti said. "Before I got ready today, I was watching the Cup race, [and] Juan was leading. Coming up to one of the restarts—literally I think I was running third behind Tags [Alex Tagliani] and T.K. [Tony Kanaan], just about to go green—[when one of my team members] came on [the radio] and said, ‘Montoya just won at the Glen, so it's up to you now.’ I thought, ‘Oh God, no pressure now.’
"That's incredible for Chip and the teams to dominate like that," Franchitti continued. "I think it says a lot about the job that Chip does, the people he puts in place, the partners he has. He works so bloody hard at it; it's nice to see him get this kind of success."
South Florida’s Helio Castroneves had contact with fellow South Floridian Ryan Hunter-Reay early in the race in pit lane (see sidebar) and came home third for Team Penske and the final podium spot. With the effort, Castroneves moved from sixth place to fifth in the IndyCar Series Championship standings, to be decided at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Oct. 2. Lock in your tickets NOW to see Championship racing at Championship value: Tickets start at just $30 and are available by calling (866) 409-RACE or by logging on to THEChampionshipTrack.com.
Said Castroneves: "When the yellow came, we all pitted. We had a great pit stop. We get out a little bit ahead of Ryan Hunter-Reay, but he also was moving. I believe he was avoiding people in front of him. But I was already kind of like on the side. I don't think the team was warning him I was there. It's a very tight pit.
"I was very surprised,” Castroneves continued. “I thought my race was over right there, but somehow it made my car better. I think it bent a little bit—not bent, but knocked off a little bit the tow on the left rear—because I kind of like between the wall and his car. From there on, it was great."
Danica Patrick finished 21st to tied Scott Dixon’s series record with 28 consecutive races running at the finish.
"It was definitely a frustrating weekend for the GoDaddy.com car,” said Patrick. “We made the most of the day, but unfortunately we came up short. Hopefully our hard work will show [en route to Championship Weekend in Miami]."
Motorsports’ first lady will race at Homestead-Miami Speedway during both the IndyCar Championship Weekend (Oct. 2) and NASCAR’s Ford Championship Weekend (Nov. 20), and a special “Double the Danica” ticket package is available. Lock in tickets to see the 2010 Champions crowned in Miami this fall by logging on to THEChampionshipTrack.com or by calling (866) 409-RACE.
Power finished second and in the process earned the Mario Andretti IZOD IndyCar Series road course trophy.
"It's a real honor to wrap up the road course championship and the Mario Andretti Trophy, [but] we got our sights set on winning the overall championship,” Power said of IndyCar’s 2010 Championship, to be decided at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Oct. 2. “That's what I've been aiming for all year."
Power, meanwhile, held on to his points lead but saw his Championship margin shrink. And with just 121 points separating Power from fifth-place Castroneves, the 2010 Championship—to be crowned Oct. 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—is anyone’s race. Lock in your tickets now to see Castroneves, Franchitti, Patrick, Kanaan, and all of IndyCar’s best as they race for glory Oct. 1-2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Tickets start at just $30: Call (866) 409-RACE or log on to THEChampionshipTrack.com for the best seats.
The last four years, the IndyCar Championship has come down to the last laps of the last race, and the Championship pursuit continues at Infineon on Aug. 22 (5 p.m. ET, VERSUS TV)—Race 13 of 17 en route to the NextEra Energy Indy Championships at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Oct. 1-2). Tickets are on sale NOW; for the best seats, call (866) 409-RACE or log on to THEChampionshipTrack.com.
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Open It Up: South Florida’s IndyCar Drivers
“Helio just didn't have any right to put his car there. There was no room.”
--South Florida’s Ryan Hunter-Reay, who suffered damage after contact with Castroneves
Boca Raton-native Ryan Hunter-Reay was angry after contact with fellow South Florida-resident Helio Castroneves in Race 12 of 17 en route to the NextEra Indy Championships in Miami (Oct. 1-2).
Said Hunter-Reay, who rallied to a Top 10 finish: “Helio just didn't have any right to put his car there; there was no room. I was racing [Ryan] Briscoe, and Helio knew that putting his nose there was going to create a contact situation. Unfortunately, it hurt us.
“We had a great car today—probably one of the best out there. The IZOD guys did an excellent job of fixing a bent suspension under yellow there and getting us back out there without losing a lap. But we still had big suspension problems for the rest of the race. The car was pretty diabolical, but we were able to hang on for a Top 10, which is a miracle, considering."
After finishing third, Castroneves jumped from sixth to fifth in the IndyCar Series Championship standing, which will be decided at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Oct. 2. Lock in your tickets NOW to see Championship racing at Championship value: Tickets start at just $30 and are available by calling (866) 409-RACE or by logging on to THEChampionshipTrack.com.
"It was a good result for the No. 3 car today," said Castroneves. "We picked up some good points and worked our way back into the Top 5 in the Championship. We had a good strategy that helped us….We raced hard with Will, but we were smart keeping the Championship in mind. It was a great day for Team Penske, getting two of the Top 3 spots."
South Beach resident Marco Andretti—Hunter-Reay’s Andretti Autosport teammate—finished ninth at Mid-Ohio.
"It was a disappointing day for the Meijer car,” said Andretti. “It's nice to finish inside the Top 10, but we had higher hopes. We're still struggling a bit with the car and didn't have it dialed in today."
Despite starting 19th, fellow South Florida-resident and reigning IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year Raphael Matos turned in a dynamic performance to record his fourth Top 8 finish of the season. To do so, he climbed a race-high 12 positions, including four passes in the final 20 laps, to finish seventh.
"It was a very exciting race," Matos said. "I have to thank the team for great pit stops and strategy. We needed a good result after our qualifying result [qualified 19th] 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."
During the first of five cautions on Lap 23, everyone but Key Biscayne’s Tony Kanaan and Alex Tagliani ducked into the pits for tires and fuel. The No. 11 7-Eleven team chose an alternate pit strategy.
"When you start back there, you're just gambling,” said Kanaan. “We tried, and it just didn't work. It was an interesting weekend: I think it's always best to try to take the positive away from things. We have a new group of people working together, and it's going to take a little bit. It's an investment for the future.
“We have a lot of work to do and it would be easy to complain, but that isn't what we're going to do. We need to acknowledge where we're at, and instead of complaining we need go to the shop, get together and work on it. That's the only way we're going to improve. I've never seen anybody complain and make it better; It has to be constructive.
“We need to keep our heads up; we've proven as a team we can win. When you're trying to go to the next level like we are, you're going to have some stellar weekends and you're going to have some when you struggle. As long as we keep trying, that is all we need."
The pursuit for Miami glory continues on Aug. 22 at Infineon (5 p.m. ET, VERSUS TV)—Race 13 of 17 en route to the NextEra Energy Indy Championships at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Lock in your tickets now to see Championship racing at Championship value, as tickets start at just $30: Call (866) 409-RACE or log on to THEChampionshipTrack.com for the best seats.
How South Florida drivers fared in Race 12 of 17 en route to Championship Weekend in Miami:
3. Helio Castroneves
7. Raphael Matos
9. Marco Andretti
10. Ryan Hunter-Reay
12. Mario Moraes
15. Vitor Meira
17. Tony Kanaan
23. Milka Duno
26. E.J. Viso