Dixon triumphs in Miami, Franchitti wins IndyCar title
Target Chip Ganassi's Scott Dixon won the IZOD IndyCar season finale at Homestead Miami Speedway Saturday night and his teammate Dario Franchitti won the 2010 IndyCar title over Team Penske's Will Power, denying the Australian of his first IndyCar title. Power didn't help his cause after he got up into the marbles, brushed the outside wall and broke his right rear suspension ending any hope he had of winning the title.
Power was running in fourth place when his car brushed the wall in the exit of Turn 4 on the 135th lap of the 200-lap race. The crew desperately tried to repair the car, replacing the right rear wishbone in just a few minutes, but Power was unable to continue after returning to the track. He retired from the race and finished 25th as Dario Franchitti, who finished eighth, wound up winning the championship by just five points.
“It’s definitely disappointing,” said Power, who came into the race 11 points ahead of Franchitti. “I really wanted to win this championship. It was at a point in the race where I felt I really had to push because Dario had led the most laps and was leading the race. I was trying to get around (Ryan) Hunter-Reay, and I got a little too high and brushed the wall and bent the suspension.”
Franchitti came home 8th and won the title by just 5 points, 602 to Power's 597. And Dixon, by virtue of his win, beat Helio Castroneves for third place in points.
Franchitti celebrated with a trademark burnout while owner Chip Ganassi shared a hug with Franchitti's wife, actress Ashley Judd.
A year ago, Franchitti used some savvy pit strategy to leapfrog Dixon and Briscoe for the title and cap his comeback from an ill-fated trip to NASCAR.
This time, he dominated when he had to. He started from the pole and with Dixon playing blocker, led enough laps to pick up two valuable bonus points and increase the pressure on Power.
"Good haul, isn't it?" Franchitti said. "Look back to the start of 2007, I hadn't won a championship. Won a lot of races, but not a championship or Indy 500. Now we find ourselves with two Indy 500s and three championships.
"Dario seems to get better with age," said Dixon. "They said triathletes are at their peak in their mid-thirties and it certainly seems that way with Dario. He left in 2008 and then comes back and wins two straight IndyCar titles here.
Danica Patrick outdueled her Andretti Autosport teammate for 2nd place in what she called her 2nd best oval race of her career, Texas being what she described as her best race.
A disappointed Power said after the race that "This was the best year of my career, but I am disappointed with the outcome.
“Like I predicted at the beginning of the season, the guy who made the least amount of mistakes would win the championship,” said Power, who suffered his first DNF of the season on Saturday. “Next year I’ll come back very strong. The confidence I’ve gained on the ovals is very important. I knew going into this year that ovals were going to be my weak point, but now I feel like I’m on par with the other guys. Next year will be a tough fight.”
A year ago, Power was recovering from serious injuries sustained in a crash at Infineon Raceway. He returned to the track more motivated than ever and he asserted himself as a contender from the outset as he won the first two races of the season and led the championship for nearly all of 2010. He believes he’ll be just as driven in 2011 – if not more.
“Last year I was here watching this race in a back brace,” added Power. “The Verizon team had a great season, and we have a lot to be proud of. This has been the best season of my career in motorsport, and I’ve learned so much. We’ll be coming back to win this thing next year.”
"I realized early on in this race that I did not have the car to beat Dario. The car was not handling well and I had to run the high groove. I was passing a backmarker and he took the air off my wings and I just skated up the track and pancaked the wall."
On losing the title by just 5 points, we asked Power what one race he wished he could have all over again, Power said "If there is one thing I wish could have gone differently this year was Chicagoland, we ran out front all day only to have pit equipment failure kill our chances."
Meanwhile Dale Coyne Racing's Alex Lloyd clinched the Rookie of The year title, beating Simona di Silvestro. "Our turning point was the Indy 500. We had a really good race at Indy and followed it up with a good race in Texas. I was effectively out of the sport for two years and the team had new engineering staff this year, so it is very rewarding to win this title.
"I hope we can come back next year with this same team and see if we can build upon what we accomplished this year."
For Chip Ganassi, it is the culmination of the best year of his career as a team owner, winning the Daytona 500, Indy 500, the Grand-Am Rolex title, many races and now the Indy 500 title.
Franchitti will be crowned champion Sunday night in Miami Beach.
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