Scotsman Dario Franchitti dedicated his Molson Indy Vancouver triumph to his late friend Greg Moore and then vowed to 'have a good time' in his memory with fellow podium finishers Paul Tracy and Tony Kanaan.

With tears welling in his eyes, Franchitti dedicated his victory to his great mate and former Vancouver resident Greg Moore, who was tragically killed in the final round of the 1999 CART FedEx Championship at Fontana in California.

With championship leader Cristiano da Matta out of contention on lap 64 of the 100-lap contest with a broken driveshaft, Franchitti pounced to score maximum points and move to within 38 points of the lead in the FedEx Championship Series making the day even more special for the Scotsman.

The Scotsman took the win from fellow Team KOOL Green teammate Paul Tracy and Brazilian Tony Kanaan.

"I've been waiting two years to say this, but this one's for you, Greg," said Franchitti on the victory podium of a race which featured just seven finishers.

"Our strategy definitely worked better up until the last yellow and the red flag. I don't know if Paul (Tracy) could have challenged, but I knew I didn't want to lose the Team KOOL Green 1-2."

Franchitti was met at Victory Circle by Moore?s father, Ric, who was part of the Scotsman?s recent wedding party.

After a first-lap accident that eliminated Kenny Brack and Jimmy Vasser and delayed Michael Andretti, Dario ran third throughout the first stint to da Matta and Tracy.

The Canadian cut into da Matta's five-second gap as the laps wound down before the first round of mandatory pit stops on Lap 32, and Franchitti was a full 12 seconds back.

The key moment in the outcome came on Lap 35 when Tora Takagi punted Andretti off in an overtaking move that went awry. Da Matta, Franchitti and the rest of the leaders other than Tracy pitted under yellow, even though it was just four laps since their last stop.

However, stopping again on Lap 36 allowed them to make the finish on two more 32-lap stints, with a planned pit stop on Lap 68.

Tracy therefore took the lead, and he slowly pulled away from da Matta and Franchitti. Tony Kanaan led the rest, a long way back in fourth.

Tracy held a six-second lead over da Matta when he had to pit on Lap 64. Just about then, the championship leader pulled to a stop on the course with a broken gearbox.

"Those things happen in a season with so many races," said da Matta after his second consecutive retirement. "There is no way Paul (Tracy) was going to beat me with the strategy he was running. But the car just slowed down going into turn six."

Franchitti held the lead for four laps before he, too, had to pit, handing the top spot back to his teammate. Tracy proceeded to pull out a 15-second lead before he came in a few laps earlier than necessary for his final stop. He returned to the track 11 seconds behind Franchitti, but the yellow soon flew for Shinji Nakano's spin.

The TKG drivers had barely gotten into a rhythm after the Lap 90 restart when the yellow flew again, as Patrick Carpentier's spin triggered a chain-reaction accident that eliminated Alex Tagliani, Bruno Junqueira and sent Adrian Fernandez to Vancouver General Hospital with a severely bruised right hip.

Tagliani got past the initial accident, but his left front suspension failed further down the back straight.

Since there were just eight laps to go and a lot of clean up was required, CART red flagged the race. After a delay of almost 17 minutes, the race resumed, with a pace lap followed by five laps of racing. The down time coupled with slippery track conditions produced no position changes-not that the drivers weren't trying.

"My car was all over the place after the restart and I was looking in the mirrors a lot," said Franchitti. "But when I saw how far back Paul was, I realised that everyone had the same problem with low tyre pressures and pickup from the marbles. The last yellow and the red flag certainly made things more difficult than I had hoped, but I'm glad to bring home a win."

Canadian national hero Tracy was magnanimous in defeat. He had come out ahead in a TKG 1-2 at Vancouver in 2000 when Franchitti was delayed during his final pit stop.

"I'm really happy for Dario," he said. "I remember the emotion of seeing Ric Moore (Greg's father) on the podium and I remember how disappointed Dario was because he wanted to win that race so badly for Greg. Franchitti and Moore developed a close friendship during their time in CART and none of the drivers felt Moore's death more painfully than the Scottish driver.

Kanaan fell far behind the leaders in the middle portion of the race, but he always held his position. He had to fight off a stern challenge from Michel Jourdain Jr. over the last few laps.

Jourdain had the most adventurous day of anyone. He spun while warming his tyres on the parade lap, but he never lost a lap and used good strategy to take a deserved fourth place. Fifth went to Carpentier after his spin, while Andretti finished sixth despite losing three laps in the Nakano incident.

Da Matta's CART championship lead now stands at 38 points over Franchitti (122 84), with Jourdain and Bruno Junqueira joint third with 74 points. Carpentier now has 72 points, while Tracy moved from 11th to 6th in the standings with 68 points.

 

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