4 June 2012
Ganassi 1-2 in shortened Belle Isle event
A caution was a foregone conclusion, but it was quickly cleared up and the next restart was to be with nine laps remaining of the now-60 lap event. For the second time of the day, Dixon controlled the start beautifully and Pagenaud had no chance to pounce; instead it was Dario Franchitti who weaved around both Power and then Pagenaud to nip into second place before anyone knew what was happening. And just as well he made it fast, because then Marco Andretti tapped the back of EJ Viso going into turn 4 and the KV Racing car was spun around and stalled in the middle of a track, triggering yet another caution.
Dixon now had his own team mate alongside him for the third attempt at a restart: how to defend without doing him any harm? He played it beautifully and Franchitti knew it and quickly conceded, falling in behind the #9 and ensuring that neither Pagenaud not Power got any funny ideas. There was a Ganassi 1-2 in the offing, and neither driver wanted to be the man to lose it.
Further back there were neat moves by Newgarden on Hildebrand and Tagliani on the wounded car of Marco Andretti after his hit with EJ Viso, but nothing to bring out a caution: it seemed that the slickness of the passing shower had now burnt off, and the patched areas were also holding up, meaning that they could finally run to the end without further interruptions.
It had been a flawless performance for Dixon, who had led the entire race - and by a huge margin before the red flag. Even more impressive in many ways was the way he had controlled the restarts however.
"A 1-2 finish for the Target boys for the second week in a row," said Dixon: "I am super happy for the team."
Far more unexpected was Dario Franchitti, who had turned a 14th place on the starting grid and a deeply disappointing outlook for the weekend coming in with a touch of midweek 'flu to claim the runners-up position.
"I thought in the first couple of laps I had a chance, but I couldn't, he was too quick," said Franchitti of the final stint behind Dixon. "But that's not to take anything away from the job Dixie did, and a 1-2 for Team Target after his brilliant qualifying and my abysmal one, we'll take it."
And how about Simon Pagenaud, the relative new boy of the IndyCar field, who had outsmarted none other than Will Power for the final podium position? He was understandably thrilled with the outcome.
"Tremendous day for Honda," he beamed. "The guys have done such a great job providing us with a super good powerplant, today is just the testament to all the work.
"It's amazing to be a one-car team and fighting against Penske and Ganassi," he added. "I've found like it's living the dream. So we're very happy today. What else can I say, really? It was just a fantastic day for us."
It might have been a somewhat improvised 15-lap shoot-out, but it had actually been worth the wait in the end. And certainly for Ganassi, those last few laps and final restarts had been a dream come true to make it an all-Honda podium in General Motors' backyard at a race that Roger Penske himself had been promoting.
Tagged as: James Hinchcliffe , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Dario Franchitti , Ryan Briscoe , Scott Dixon , Will Power , Simon Pagenaud , Oriol Servia , Detroit , tony kanaan , Belle Isle
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