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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.


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Dario Franchitti - Target Chip Ganassi Racing   [pic credit: IRL/Jones]
Chevrolet Racing introduces the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 Indianapolis 500 pace car Tuesday, March 25, 2014. Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti will drive the Camaro Z/28 to pace the 98th running of the race on May 25. It’s the eighth time a Camaro has been the pace car, starting in 1967 – and the 25th time a Chevrolet has paced the race. The 2014 Camaro Z/28 is the most track-capable model in its history, building on the legacy of the original SCCA Trans Am-series contender introduced in 1967. (Photo Courtesy of IMS Photography for Chevy Racing)
Chevrolet Racing introduces the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 Indianapolis 500 pace car Tuesday, March 25, 2014. Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti will drive the Camaro Z/28 to pace the 98th running of the race on May 25. It’s the eighth time a Camaro has been the pace car, starting in 1967 – and the 25th time a Chevrolet has paced the race. The 2014 Camaro Z/28 is the most track-capable model in its history, building on the legacy of the original SCCA Trans Am-series contender introduced in 1967. (Photo Courtesy of IMS Photography for Chevy Racing)
Chevrolet Racing announces Tuesday, March 25, 2014 that three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti will drive a 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 to pace the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 25. It’s the eighth time a Camaro has been the pace car, starting in 1967 – and the 25th time a Chevrolet has paced the race. The 2014 Camaro Z/28 is the most track-capable model in its history, building on the legacy of the original SCCA Trans Am-series contender introduced in 1967. (Photo Courtesy of IMS Photography for Chevy Racing)
Chevrolet Racing announces Tuesday, March 25, 2014 that three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti will drive a 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 to pace the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 25. It’s the eighth time a Camaro has been the pace car, starting in 1967 – and the 25th time a Chevrolet has paced the race. The 2014 Camaro Z/28 is the most track-capable model in its history, building on the legacy of the original SCCA Trans Am-series contender introduced in 1967. (Photo Courtesy of IMS Photography for Chevy Racing)
Dario Franchitti reviews data in the Target Chip Ganassi pit stand at the 2014 Open Test at Barber Motorsports Park on Tuesday March 18. (Photo Credit: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Dario Franchitti during the press conference at the Target Chip Ganassi Racing shop. (Photo Credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Dario Franchitti jokes with Tony Kanaan during his press conference at the Target Chip Ganassi Racing offices. (Photo Credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Dario Franchitti poses with the Borg-Warner Trophy and the Astor Cup following his retirement press conference at the Target Chip Ganassi Racing offices. (Photo Credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Dario Franchitti arrives for his retirement press conference at the Target Chip Ganassi Racing offices. (Photo Credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Briscoe (second left) is announced as the fourth driver for Chip Ganassi Racing in 2014 where he will join (L-R) Charlie Kimball, Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon. Kanaan will drive the #10 previously piloted by Dario Franchitti. Briscoe will drive the new #8 car in a multi-year contract. (Photo Credit: Lynne Huntting, presssnoop.com)
Tony Kanaan gets acclimated to his new car as mechanic Steve Namisnak makes adjustments to a mirror prior to a test at Sebring International Raceway on December 4, 2013. (Photo Credit: Dave Lewandowski for IndyCar Media)
Tony Kanaan, left, and Charlie Kimball, center, compare notes during some downtime at a Chip Ganassi Racing test day at Sebring International Raceway on December 4, 2013. (Photo Credit: Dave Lewandowski for IndyCar Media)
Tony Kanaan sits in his NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing car during a test day at Sebring International Raceway on December 4, 2013. (Photo Credit: Dave Lewandowski for IndyCar Media)
Tony Kanaan discusses his car with engineer Eric Cowdin during a Chip Ganassi Racing team test day at Sebring International Raceway on December 4, 2013. (Photo Credit: Dave Lewandowski for IndyCar Media)
Tony Kanaan prepares to test his NTT Data car at Sebring International Raceway on December 4, 2013. (Photo Credit: Dave Lewandowski for IndyCar Media)
Tony Kanaan watches on as Charlie Kimball sits in his car during a Chip Ganassi Racing team test day at Sebring International Raceway on December 4, 2013. (Photo Credit: Dave Lewandowski for IndyCar Media)
The Ganassi pit crew celebrate Scott Dixon clinching the championship at the climax of the IndyCar finale, MATV 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana California on Saturday, October 19, 2013. (Picture Credit: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)

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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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