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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.
Scott Dixon leads the Indycar field   [pic credit: Indycar media/Bret Kelley]
Scott Dixon - Target Chip Ganassi Racing   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/JOE SKIBINSKI]
Max Chilton, Chip Ganassi, [Credit: Max Chilton PR]
Scott Dixon - Chip Ganassi [credit: IndyCar Series]
Scott Dixon - Chip Ganassi [credit: IndyCar Series]
Scott Dixon is congratulated by Dario Franchitti after winning the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship. (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, August 30, 2015, winning the final Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season and the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Driver`s Championship at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. Chevrolet also wins its fourth consecutive Verizon IndyCar Series Manufacturer`s Championship. (Photo by Ernie Masche/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon (left), driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, August 30, 2015, after winning the final Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season and the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Driver`s Championship at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. Joining him on the podium is Charlie Kimball, driver of the #83 Novolog Flexpen Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6 who finished third. Chevrolet won its fourth consecutive Verizon IndyCar Series Manufacturer`s Championship. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, takes the chequered flag Sunday, August 30, 2015, winning the final Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season and the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Driver`s Championship at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. Chevrolet also wins its fourth consecutive Verizon IndyCar Series Manufacturer`s Championship. (Photo by Perry Nelson/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, August 30, 2015, winning the final Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season and the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Driver`s Championship at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. Chevrolet also wins its fourth consecutive Verizon IndyCar Series Manufacturer`s Championship. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon - 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series champion - Target Chip Ganassi Racing (Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon celebrates with Chip Ganassi after winning the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma and clinching the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series championship at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon celebrates with Chip Ganassi after winning the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma and clinching the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series championship at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ganassi`s Charlie Kimball goes into the fencing during his qualification attempt for the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway. (Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to an fourth-place finish Sunday, August 2, 2015, during the Verizon IndyCar Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates having the fastest qualifying time Saturday, August 1, 2015, winning the pole for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. Dixon set a track record of 1:04.5814/125.869 mph. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates having the fastest qualifying time Saturday, August 1, 2015, winning the pole for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. Dixon set a track record of 1:04.5814/125.869 mph. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)

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