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Dario Franchitti wins IRL title at Homestead

Dario Franchitti clinched a second IndyCar Series title after a bold fuel strategy played out in his favour after a three-way championship showdown with Target Chip Ganassi team-mate Scott Dixon and Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe.

Despite claiming the pole for the Homestead-Miami Speedway finale, the Scot ran third for much of the 200-lap distance, allowing Dixon and Briscoe to duel for the lead - and the two bonus points that came for heading most laps.

In the end, however, the antipodeans' scrap counted for nothing as Franchitti's superior fuel management ability saw him run crucially longer than his rivals on every stint of the yellow-free race, and escape the need for a 'splash-and-dash' in the closing stages of the 300-mile event.

When, first, Dixon and then Briscoe peeled off in the final ten laps, Franchitti was able to remain on track and, despite running a reduced pace, was able to come home comfortably ahead of both, claiming a second title in his first season back from a frustrating sojourn in NASCAR.

Briscoe finished second on the road, with Dixon third, as the three title contenders came home as the only runners on the lead lap. The victory was Franchitti's fifth of the season, and he managed a victory burn-out on the home straight before finally running out of fuel. He dedicated the win to the late Greg Moore, who perished while Franchitti was chasing the CART title ten years ago this month.

Luczo Dragon's Raphael Matos did enough to claim the Rookie of the Year crown in his head-to-head with Team HVM's Robert Doornbos, although series returnee Alex Lloyd claimed the highest finish by a rookie in the race, coming home eighth overall.

"I'm very happy, it couldn't be better," Matos admitted, "I think this title means a lot to me and a lot to the team. There's a lot of famous names in the Rookie of the Year gallery and I dreamed about [joining them]. I think this shows that we are ready for bigger and better things in the series."

The top three finishers were the only drivers who entered the season-ending race with a chance to win the title on the 1.5-mile oval. Franchitti finished the season with 616 points, Dixon with 605 and Briscoe with 604. It was the second consecutive title for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, as Dixon won in 2008, and the second in three years for Franchitti, who claimed his first championship in 2007 with Andretti Green Racing. The three title contenders led 198 of the 200 laps in the finale, such was their dominance.

After polesitter Franchitti had led the opening exchanges, Briscoe and Dixon contented themselves with sharing the pacesetting as they adopted a sprint mentality to Franchitti's slow-but-sure approach. Briscoe took the lead on lap 151, with Dixon in close pursuit, when Franchitti entered the pits for the final time six laps after his rivals had been forced to stop on lap 144.




Related Pictures

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Dario Franchitti - Target Chip Ganassi Racing   [pic credit: IRL/Jones]
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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stephen - Unregistered

October 11, 2009 12:22 AM

Fantastic news for Dario, superb, so happy for him. The boy done Scotland good. Nice to see him pay tribute to another great driver Greg Moore, one of my favourites, can't believe it's ten years already



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