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Franchitti takes Long Beach win

IndyCar returnee Dario Franchitti benefited, not once, but twice from conveniently timed full-course cautions to claim victory in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

The Scot, who took outright pole for the ALMS event - in an LMP2 car - on the famous street circuit two seasons ago, held off a determined Will Power for the final nine laps after a caution had given the Australian polesitter the chance to close up.

Repeating Power's original start, however, Franchitti got the jump on the pack and went on to win by little over three seconds as Target Chip Ganassi Racing replied to arch rival Penske's win in the season-opener two weeks ago.

Power, who faces just one more guaranteed outing in Penske's third car following Helio Castroneves' return to action, came up fractionally short in the perfect audition for full-time employment, leading comfortably early on before coming back through the field in the closing stages to sit on Franchitti's tail at the fifth and final caution.

Like the winner, others benefited from the timing of the various cautions, with third, fourth and fifth Tony Kanaan, Danica Patrick and Dan Wheldon all finding themselves thrust in to leading roles by their strategy.

A third Andretti Green car, that of Marco Andretti, took sixth place, ahead of Castroneves and leading rookies Raphael Matos and Robert Doornbos, while Alex Tagliani posted another top ten result for Conquest Racing.

There was less good fortune for St Petersburg winner Ryan Briscoe, while defending series champion Scott Dixon to make heavy weather of his title defence, the pair coming together during the final caution. Dixon, turned around by his rival, dropped to 15th, while his rival finished only 13th after being handed a penalty by race stewards.

Franchitti started second but lost two spots in the first turn of the 85-lap race. He moved back up to second on lap 15 before pitting next time around. The stop - for fuel and tyres - proved to be fortuitous as fellow Briton Mike Conway found the wall at turn one just two laps later, bringing out a full-course caution. As the rest of the field cycled through their pit-stops, Franchitti assumed the lead on lap 32.

The Scot, series champion in 2007, then benefited from a similar scenario after pitting under green conditions on lap 53, one lap before another Conway-inspired full-course caution. From that point on, Franchitti was unheaded, leading the final 29 laps and opening up a lead of several seconds over polesitter Power, having got the jump on the Aussie at the restart.



Related Pictures

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Indy Racing League. 24-25 Feb. 2009. IRL Homestead Test.  Homestead Internation Raceway. Homestead, Florida. Dario Franchitti.
Sage Karam, driver of the #8 Comfort Revolution/Big Machine Records Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his third-place finish Saturday, July 18, 2015, during the Verizon IndyCar Series Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Sage Karam, driver of the #8 Comfort Revolution/Big Machine Records Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to a third-place finish Saturday, July 18, 2015, during the Verizon IndyCar Series Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. (Photo by Scott R. LePage/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Degree Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6 IndyCar, raced to a sixth-place finish Saturday, June 27, 2015, in the Verizon IndyCar Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Sage Karam, driver of the #8 Comfort Revolution/Big Machine Records Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6 IndyCar, races to a fifth-place finish Saturday, June 27, 2015, in the Verizon IndyCar Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Perry Nelson/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6 races to a second-place finish Saturday, June 27, 2015, in the Verizon IndyCar Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.  (Photo by Perry Nelson/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Energizer Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6 IndyCar, celebrates his victory with teammate Tony Kanaan Saturday, June 6, 2015, after winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Firestone 600 race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. Canaan, driver of the #10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet finished in second-place. (Photo by Russell LaBounty/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Energizer Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6 IndyCar, celebrates his victory Saturday, June 6, 2015, after winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Firestone 600 race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Russell LaBounty/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Energizer Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6 IndyCar, races to victory Saturday, June 6, 2015, taking the chequered flag at the Verizon IndyCar Series Firestone 600 race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Energizer Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6 IndyCar, races to victory Saturday, June 6, 2015, winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Firestone 600 race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Russell LaBounty/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6 IndyCar, races to a fifth-place finish Saturday, May 30, 2015, during the the first of two Verizon IndyCar Series Chevrolet Belle Isle Dual In Detroit races this weekend in Detroit, Michigan.(Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, qualifies third fastest Sunday, May 17, 2015, and will start on the outside of the front row for the Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Pagenaud will be joined in the front row by by polestar Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet and Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet who qualified second fastest for the May 24 race. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, qualifies second-fastest Sunday, May 17, 2015, and will start in the middle of the front row for the Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Power will be joined in the front row by pole sitter Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet and Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet  who qualified third for the May 24 race. (Photo by Scott R. LePage/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates after qualifying fastest Sunday, May 17, 2015, winning the pole for the Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Dixon will be joined in the front row by Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet who qualified second fastest, and Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet  who qualified third for the May 24 race. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, qualifies fastest Sunday, May 17, 2015, winning the pole for the Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Dixon will be joined in the front row by Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet who qualified second fastest, and Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet  who qualified third for the May 24 race. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
James Davison chats with Dario Franchitti on pit lane prior to practice for the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, qualifies second-fastest Friday, May 8, 2015, for Saturday`s Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the road course of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Dixon will start in the front row with pole-winner Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6. (Photo by Scott R. LePage/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Coke Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to a third place finish Sunday, April 25, 2015 during the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)

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