Franchitti beats Briscoe in Iowa
Qualifying was cancelled due to water seeping through the track from saturated soil, and overnight and early morning heavy rains. The sun began to shine just in time for the track to dry and the race ran under ideal conditions.
Franchitti gave the credit to his Target Chip Ganassi Racing crew, which turned in a quick pit stop on Lap 196 of 250 as the leaders cycled through green flag stops.
He took the lead with 54 laps to go Sunday and beat Ryan Briscoe by a little more than 5 seconds.
It was Franchitti’s 10th career IndyCar win, and his first since Long Beach in April. He moved into second place in the points race, three points behind Briscoe.
Franchitti took the lead three laps after making his final pit stop on the seven-eighths-mile oval.
“In the last stop, the changes were fantastic and I was able to pull away — I had a good gap on (Briscoe),” Franchitti said. “I was able to get through traffic really well.”
For the third consecutive race, Briscoe led the most laps but finished second.
Andretti Green Racing's Hideki Mutoh finished third, one spot lower than his career-best finish at the track last year, and Panther Racing's Dan Wheldon finished fourth as the top four finishers came from different teams.
Helio Castroneves, who started on the pole based on entrant points after qualifying was cancelled due to water seepage on the track, finished seventh. He made contact with Scott Dixon early in the race, forcing both cars to pit for repairs. Dixon finished fifth.
The race got off to a rough start with four caution periods in the first 55 laps but finished with stints of 56 and 127 consecutive green-flag laps.
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 TOM TOM, first): "I like driving here. We tested at Iowa last Wednesday. The Target (Sponsor was Tom Tom for this race) guys did a really, really good job coming up with a setup, and they were awesome in the pits. I just went out, did my job and hung on, made some good moves in traffic and here we are. More than anywhere, today is a team win because those pit stops moved us up in track position."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, second): "It was a great day for Team Penske. Dario (Franchitti) had a bit more than us when on cold tires. On the restarts, he was a bit better than us. We were quickest throughout the middle of the stint. I was hoping I would be able to catch him in traffic, but he just got a bit more luck with those guys and actually opened up the gap. It was a tough one but a great day. The car was awesome. We had to make a bit of changes on the first pit stop, but from there the car was great."
HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 27 Formula Dream, third): "I was hoping to be one step up on the podium. This is one step down. But it's still a podium finish, so I'm happy. The Formula Dream team gave me a very good car." (On recording his best finishes at Iowa): "It seems like Iowa is my favorite track because of the results. Maybe it should be."
DAN WHELDON (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing, fourth): "It's a good result for Panther Racing and the National Guard; to finish fourth here with this level of competition is something we can build on. There's a bunch of good guys on this Panther team, and they're all working very hard, and I know we all want to get back to victory lane together. I always tended to lose a few places on starts and restarts, but once the car came in it was as good as anybody out there. Toward the end of the race, I should have made some more aggressive changes with the front wing, because I had some understeer. My race was relatively low key. I was loose at the start of each stint, but once the car settled down it was good. I'll take a top five, and it's some good momentum to build upon. This is a good track. As it starts to lose even more grip, it's going to become even more fun. I know a lot of people say that Iowa is in the middle of nowhere, but you know what, we get such a great crowd and they're so enthusiastic. As a driver you could put me in paradise, but if there's nobody in the grandstands then it's not good racing."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, fifth): "We tried to go with two different strategies, and it looks like Dario (Franchitti) just had a stellar day. Once we touched (with Helio Castroneves' car), we cycled back. And once we got back in traffic, it was really tough. We should have done much better, but at least one of the cars did well this weekend."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske, seventh): "We just couldn't get the Team Penske car quite right today. It's difficult to get the car exactly how you want it on a short oval when you don't have the opportunity to practice very much. It was a long day out there. Toward the end of the race, I think I was a bit too conservative. I had a lot of understeer, and we just didn't tweak the car enough on that last stop. I don't think that the front wing was the problem because we were back in the game for awhile, but we didn't have enough there in the end. The good news is that it's not even halfway through the season and we still have plenty of races ahead of us to improve and work towards the championship. Now we just have to keep our heads down and focus on Richmond."
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Boost Mobile/Motorola, ninth): "We started off with a good car, but it just wasn't our day. We got a couple flat tires at the beginning of the race, which was a bummer, but then we just changed up the strategy a bit, which allowed us to lead a few laps. But then the yellows started to come out, and we were at the wrong place at the wrong time. But it was a top-10 finish for us, so if this is the worst finish we have this season, I can't complain."
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Menards/Vision Racing, 10th): "The bumps were a factor. The car was loose over those bumps the whole race, and I had understeer in Turns 3 and 4, especially in traffic. We were pretty limited on what we could do to take understeer out of the car because I was afraid of what that it would do over the bumps. It's disappointing, because this is a great racetrack, and I'd really like to see them fix that bump. I know they tried, but we'd like to see them try something different. We're happy to be coming back the next two years, so I think it would be in all of our best interests if they tuned it a bit to open it up and make it a more exciting race. It's a top-10 but not one we can be proud of since we didn't really feel like we beat anybody. We just rode around and didn't crash like a lot of others."
Olympic gold medalist and "Dancing with the Stars" champion Shawn Johnson met three-time Indianapolis 500 winner and 2007 "Dancing with the Stars" champion Helio Castroneves at the start/finish line this morning. Castroneves gave her an insider's tour of the racetrack with some high-speed laps in the pace car. She also got a garage tour of the No. 7 Boost Mobile/Motorola car driven by Danica Patrick.
SHAWN JOHNSON: "I've been home for about a week and it's great to be home, and now to come out to the track to watch the race and meet Helio is fantastic."
Winner's average speed: 134.371 mph
Time of race: 1:39:47.9077
Margin of victory: 5.0132 seconds
Cautions: 5 caution flags for 46 laps
Lead changes: 12 among 7 drivers
Lap leaders: Castroneves 1-16, Dixon 17, Franchitti 18-19, Briscoe 20-35, Patrick 36-57, Kanaan 58-105, Wheldon 106-113, Briscoe 114-125, Franchitti 126-137, Briscoe 138-194, Franchitti 195-197, Patrick 198-199, Franchitti 200-250.
Point standings: Briscoe 241, Franchitti 238, Dixon 226, Castroneves 212, Patrick 189, Wheldon 184, Kanaan 162, Andretti 159, Rahal 145, Mutoh 142.
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