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Franchitti collects $1M bonus on South Beach
A day after winning the 2009 IndyCar® Series championship, Dario Franchitti was honored for his second title in three years. Franchitti and Firestone Indy Lights® champion J.R. Hildebrand - along with other drivers, teams and manufacturers - were recognized during the Indy Racing League Championship Celebration poolside at the W Hotel on South Beach. Brian Barnhart, president of the competition and operations division of the Indy Racing League, sanctioning body of the IndyCar Series, presented Franchitti with a $1 million championship bonus check and a mini IndyCar Series championship trophy. A mini IndyCar Series championship trophy also was awarded to Target Chip Ganassi Racing owner Chip Ganassi.

"In '07, there was a lot of satisfaction in getting that one done, and now to come back from where we were a year ago is very satisfying," said Franchitti, who used fuel strategy to beat Ryan Briscoe of Team Penske and his teammate Scott Dixon to win the Firestone Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway by 4.788 seconds to clinch the championship. "I think that's what makes it sweeter is we've got everybody together, and you've got a more balanced schedule, as well.

"That gives me really a lot of satisfaction, having to beat guys like  look down the list. Look at the drivers we're competing against, Ryan (Briscoe) and certainly Scott (Dixon) at the top of that. To beat those guys and to beat Scott on team equipment, you've had a great year."

In addition to the championship bonus, Franchitti accepted the $10,000 Bosch Platinum Award and received a $100,000 diamond-encrusted champion's timepiece from Ritmo Mundo.

Kevin O'Donnell, chief mechanic for Franchitti's No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda-powered Dallara, accepted the IndyCar Series Chief Mechanic of the Year Award. Raphael Matos of Luczo Dragon Racing accepted the $25,000

Apex-Brasil Rookie of the Year Award. Ryan Briscoe of Team Penske won the Raybestos Road & Street Challenge while Dan Wheldon of Panther Racing was awarded the Xtrac Championship Award and its $5,000 prize.

Hildebrand accepted the mini Firestone Firehawk Cup along with a $10,000 award for the Raybestos Road and Street Course Challenge for scoring the most points on road and street courses, a $5,000 prize as the winner of the Lucas Oil Frequent Pole Sitter Award, a $5,000 "Securing Tomorrow Award" from Gregory & Appel Insurance for winning the most races, the $5,000 Palmer Family Frequent Podium Award and the $10,000 Sunoco Most Improved Driver Award.

"Winning this championship is at the top of the list of career achievements," Hildebrand said. "To be able to win the championship at this level is I think the best thing that a driver can do to be able to move up and that's all of all of our ultimate goals. It means a lot to be here as the 2009 champion." 

Jayson Madison, chief mechanic for Hildebrand's No. 26 ARPRO entry for Andretti Green Racing/AFS Racing, accepted $5,000 as Mo'sGold Chief Mechanic of the Year.

Sebastian Saavedra of AFS Racing/Andretti Green Racing won $10,000 as Mesco Building Solutions' "Building for the Future" Rookie of the Year, while Mario Romancini of RLR/Andersen Racing claimed the Force For Earth Hard Charger Award and its $5,000 prize for improving the most total positions during the 2009 season. 

IndyCar Series award winners

Championship driver: Dario Franchitti
Herff Jones Championship Driver Award (ring valued at $5,000): Dario Franchitti
Ritmo Mundo Championship Driver Award (diamond watch valued at $100,000): Dario Franchitti
Canon Championship Award (Prize package valued at $2,000): Dario Franchitti and Kevin O'Donnell
Championship team: Target Chip Ganassi Racing
Championship team sponsor: Target Chip Ganassi Club 
Championship team managers: Scott Harner and Barry Wanser
Chief Mechanic of the Year Award: Kevin O'Donnell
Apex-Brasil Rookie of the Year Award ($25,000): Raphael Matos
Second place championship driver: Scott Dixon
Second place championship team: Target Chip Ganassi Racing
Third place championship driver: Ryan Briscoe
Third place championship team: Team Penske
BOSCH Platinum Award ($10,000 for highest-finishing driver using Bosch qspark plugs): Dario Franchitti
Raybestos Road & Street Course Challenge: Ryan Briscoe
Xtrac Championship Award ($5,000 for driver who won most Xtrac Awards during 2009): Dan Wheldon
Manufacturer Recognition Awards: Honda, Firestone, Delphi, Dallara, Xtrac, and K&N Filters

Firestone Indy Lights award winners

Championship driver (mini Firehawk Cup): J.R. Hildebrand
Herff Jones Championship Driver Award (ring valued at $4,000): J.R. Hildebrand
Ritmo Mundo Championship Driver Award (watch valued at $25,000): J.R. Hildebrand
Championship team (mini Firehawk Cup): Andretti Green Racing/AFS Racing Mo'sGold Chief Mechanic of the Year ($5,000): Jayson Madison
Second place championship driver: James Davison Second place championship team: Vision Racing Third place championship driver: Sebastian Saavedra
Third place championship team: AFS Racing Inc./Andretti Green Racing
Firestone Painting Award: J.R. Hildebrand Force for Earth Hard Charger ($5,000): Mario Romancini
Gregory & Appel "Securing Tomorrow" Award ($5,000): J.R. Hildebrand
Lucas Oil Frequent Polesitter Award ($5,000): J.R. Hildebrand
Mesco Building Solutions "Building for the Future" Rookie of the Year ($10,000): Sebastian Saavedra
National City Community Leader Award ($5,000): Sam Schmidt Motorsports
Palmer Family Frequent Podium Award ($5,000): J.R. Hildebrand
Raybestos Road & Street Course Challenge (10,000): J.R. Hildebrand
Sunoco Most Improved Driver ($10,000): J.R. Hildebrand
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