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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.
Will Power (center), driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, August 17, 2014 with second-place finisher Juan Pablo Montoya (left), driver of the #2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet, and Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 Huggies Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet at The Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wisconsin. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon (right), driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, August 3, 2014 during the IndyCar Series race at Mid Ohio Raceway in Lexington, Ohio. Sebastien Bourdais (left), driver of the #11 Hydroxycut KVC Racing Technology Chevrolet IndyCar V6, finished second. It`s Dixon`s first victory of the season. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6 celebrates his victory Sunday, August 3, 2014 during the IndyCar Series race at Mid Ohio Raceway in Lexington, Ohio. It`s Dixon`s first victory of the season. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6 celebrates his victory Sunday, August 3, 2014 during the IndyCar Series race at Mid Ohio Raceway in Lexington, Ohio. It`s Dixon`s first victory of the season. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon and the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing team celebrate victory in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sport Car Course on Sunday August 3 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Chevrolet sweeps the podium with winner Mike Conway (center), driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrating his victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. Tony Kanaan (left), driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet celebrates his second-place finish. Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet celebrates his third-place finish. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Chevy Racing sweeps the podium with race winner Sebastien Bourdais (center), driver of the #11 Hydroxycut KVC Racing Technology Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrating his victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the first of two IndyCar Series races in Toronto, Canada. Second-place finisher Helio Castroneves (left), driver of the #3 PPV Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet, and third-place finisher Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, join the celebration. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 TNT Energy Drink Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6, races to a third-place finish Saturday, July 12, 2014 at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V6, takes over the championship points lead with an eighth-place finish. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races teammate Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 TNT Energy Drink Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6, Saturday, July 12, 2014 at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Dixon won the pole and finished in fourth-place. Kanaan led for most of the race and finished third. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Ryan Briscoe (left), driver of the #8 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, talks with teammate Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 TNT Energy Drink Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6, during qualifying Friday, July 11, 2014 for Saturday`s race at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Briscoe qualified fourth, Kanaan second and teammate Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6 won the pole. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6 celebrates winning the pole Friday, July 11, 2014 for Saturday`s race at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Dixon will start in the front row with teammate Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 TNT Energy Drink Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6, who qualified second. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6 wins the pole Friday, July 11, 2014 for Saturday`s race at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Dixon will start in the front row with teammate Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 TNT Energy Drink Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6, who qualified second. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Johnny Rutherford speaks with official pace car driver Dario Franchitti (Photo by: Dana Garrett for IndyCar Media)
Chip Ganassi (Photo by: Eric Anderson for IndyCar Media)
Chip Ganassi speaks with Sage Karam (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan on Monday at practice for the Indianapolis 500. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Briscoe, driver of the #8 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to a sixth-place finish Saturday, May 10, 2014 during the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt for Chevy Racing)

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