Franchitti holds off Wheldon in Chicago
Franchitti picked up the lead out of the final pit stop on Lap 173 and held off Dan Wheldon by 0.0423 of a second for his third win of the season. The margin of victory was 0.0423, the sixth closest IZOD IndyCar Series finish at Chicagoland Speedway, which always seems to produce photo finishes.
In fact the race was far more competitive and far more entertaining than any NASCAR race ever held, yet NASCAR's attendance and TV ratings dwarf IndyCars, which is a major injustice to one's intelligence. The feeling in the IndyCar paddock is that ISC won't promote the IndyCar races heavily because the France family knows the IndyCars put on a far better show and make their NASCAR product look inferior.
As a result of Franchitti's win and Power's 16th, Franchitti closed to just 23 points back of Power with three oval races left.
Marco Andretti led an Andretti Autosport trio to round out the top five. Andretti finished with a season-best-tying third place. His teammates Ryan Hunter-Reay and Tony Kanaan followed. Helio Castroneves finished sixth and Justin Wilson advanced 16 positions to finish seventh.
Danica Patrick was as high as 6th with a few laps to go, but was out driven by 8 guys who shuffled her back to 14th at the finish.
Franchitti posted his 26th Indy car racing victory, tying Rodger Ward for 11th on the all-time list (USAC, CART, Indy Racing league sanction). Johnny Rutherford (27) is next.
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Breathe Right, winner PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy 300): "It's good to have Floyd (Ganassi) back at the track. He hasn't been here for a while but as usual, he brought us luck tonight. We were struggling tonight with the Breathe Right car really in traffic as we got a little further back there. A lot of crazy stuff going on. I was just more comfortable up high. That last stop was the key to this race. Chris Simmons, turns out he was the one that made the call. We had a lot of faith in the Firestone tires. He said leave the tires on and got us out front. Dan Wheldon, he was just pushing me all the time, just helping me. I was giving him room at the bottom. We were working together very, very well there. So between him and Scott Dixon pushing me around all night. This Team Target is amazing."
DAN WHELDON (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing, finished second): "Great job by everyone at National Guard Panther Racing. We continue to work very, very hard. To be honest at the end, the reason I worked so hard with Dario (Franchitti) and just tried to stay with him was because he was so clean and professional. He is a true gentleman out there and a great driver. I have to take away with the guys on our team. They did an excellent job and it was a strong performance. I have to thank my team and the fans who were definitely on their feet at the end of the night. It was an exciting race as it should be.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 37 Ethanol USA/Team IZOD, finished fourth): "I'm happy with a top-four, but I'm upset with the way some guys drove. It was crazy out there. When you put 15 fast cars in a group that you could throw a king-sized blanket over, you're going to have people who are pissed off. You can't do everything right."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Venom Energy, finished third): "It's good to taste (success) again. It's been tough on the road courses lately so I'm happy to finish on the podium. We lost a couple spots in pit stops, so we have to really analyze what happened. It was costly."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske, finished sixth): "The Team Penske car was good early in the race. I was able to run strong towards the front of the field. During our first stop we had an issue fueling and that put us back in the field. My car was not as good in traffic as it was toward the front of the field and, honestly, it was a little unnerving back there. The cars at the back of the field were moving around quite a bit and it was difficult to find racing room. We will be back at it again next week at Kentucky and hopefully we'll have a better result there."
VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt Racing, finished ninth): We knew it would be but it was really crazy! Getting two front wings, getting lapped, my team did good job getting the lap back. We needed this after 4 tough races. This was very tough. I'm glad we did it here in Chicago close to ABC supply HQ. They support us so well! y(ever think race was gone?) I thought after the 2nd wing replacement our race was gone but we didn't give up, never give up, never."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 02 NHR/Quick Trim, finished 10th): "The Quick Trim car felt pretty good; I definitely felt we had a car that, overall, could compete for the top-three. But then when we got out to the front of our pack I just couldn't keep the position; people were just driving around me and taking off. Clearly I wanted a better finish than we had. We should have been able to get a top-three, top-five. It just wasn't in the cards."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, finished 11th): "That was a wild night. The Team Penske car was great running out front and I was able to run fast on my own. After that last stop, we lost a little track position. I tried everything that I could, but my car was just not as good in traffic."
HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 06 Formula Dream/Panasonic, finished 13th): "We made a big change overnight so at the start of the race I was conservative to see how it would react. Then we had a problem in the pits but sometimes human error is a part of racing. We hung in there and finished the race. Our position was okay, not great, but we are very pleased with the progress we made. We made very good progress in this race that will help us in Kentucky and if we can continue progressing in Kentucky we can carry good momentum for Japan."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske, finished 16th): "That was a really intense race and man, I had a lot of fun out there in the Verizon car. Unfortunately, we had a problem with our fuel late in the race and we had to come back in and lost position. That was just a mistake that we couldn't afford. This obviously makes things tougher for the championship, but we're still in front and we proved how competitive we can be on the ovals. We'll move on and we will work harder next week at Kentucky."
ALEX TAGLIANI: (No. 77 FAZZT Race Team, finished 25th): "I am extremely proud of the team. We've had a good car this year on the oval and we were able to get it to the front again with the set up changes that we made for the race. We drove from 20th all the way to the front when we had a little issue with the fuel and went a lap down. We got the lap back and I don't think it was a problem at that point because we moved so quickly to the front I knew we could do it again. On the restart I got hit from behind and turned around and that was the end of our race. It's really unfortunate for the whole team; the Bowers and Wilkins/TorcUP car was great. I think we had the car to beat tonight."
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team GoDaddy.com, finished 14th): "I'm really disappointed with the race result. The GoDaddy car was handling well all night, I just didn't have enough speed to stay with the lead pack. It's tough to end the event like this because we were really competitive and I thought we'd have more out there tonight."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven/Planters, finished fifth): "It was a great team effort for us tonight, but it was a crazy race. It's great for the fans, but it's hard to enjoy it as a driver. For most of the night, you're in survival mode. Everybody is going to get mad at each other at one point or another in a race like this because there is nowhere to hide. People were doing crazy things out there and it's a bit upsetting."
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Panther/Vision/Fuzzy's Vodka, finished 20th): "I just had a really good car that was a lot like Indianapolis and Kentucky last year. It was handling so well that I could put it anywhere. I seemed to be really good on the bottom where a lot of guys were pushing up. I could go high or low and was able to work my way to the front pretty quickly early in the race. The crew did a great job preparing the car but we lost spots on pit stops but got the No.20 Fuzzy Vodka car back up to the front each time. We saved fuel, got really good mileage and lead some laps. It was a lot of fun but then really disappointing. It's pretty frustrating that the two times we've run this no.20 Fuzzy's Vodka car, I feel like we should have finished on a podium. We had a fuel issue again. A different problem but the same result. I have to thank the Panther Racing team. They did a great job giving me a super fast car. I'm really happy for Dan Wheldon and his Panther crew and their great second place result. They were just as fast and we can take solace in the fact we too could have been up there battling for the win with him. We said coming in here that we were going to have a chance to win and we did. If we can go without having a fuel issue again, I'm pretty sure we can finish on the podium. I'm feeling very confident for Kentucky and Homestead. We're not points racing. We're racing for a win."
DAVEY HAMILTON (No. 21 HP de Ferran Dragon Racing, finished 18th): "For being out of the car for nine years on a mile and a half oval, I feel pretty good. I really felt competitive in the group for awhile. Unfortunately, we struggled quite a bit yesterday, and we didn't have the gearing tonight to compete with the main pack. But all things considered, the HP car was good. I felt more confident and comfortable as the race went on and could make choices on the track in traffic. I don't know the guys well enough so at times when I wanted to use the top line it got taken away and I had to stay low. That cost me a couple spots, but by the end I was using the top line and felt really competitive."
Winner's average speed: 169.161
Time of Race: 01:47:49.5783
Margin of victory: .0423 of a second
Cautions: 3 for 28
Lead changes: 25
Point Standings: Power 528, Franchitti 505, Dixon 443, Briscoe 406, Castroneves 398, Hunter-Reay 392, Kanaan 360, Andretti 319, Wilson 316, Wheldon 309.
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