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DATE News (chronologically)
10/15/09
irl
Silence Greets Thrilling IndyCar Finale
The Sunday morning newspapers told the story – or rather, they didn’t.

Checking my hometown  newspaper and surveying many of the papers that appear on the internet, it was quickly apparent that Saturday night’s rousing IndyCar Series finale made virtually zero impact outside of Homestead-Miami Speedway.

What a shame.

It isn’t that many years ago that the idea of open-wheel drivers, vying for a championship in a wheel-to-wheel battle at more than 200 mph would have brought a media room full of writers from around the country and a wave of interest from coast to coast.

Sure, NASCAR has long since become the 2,000-pound gorilla of American motorsports, but the IRL and the now-defunct CART series kept enough of their panache to at least prompt real sports fans to want to know who won the latest race and, especially, who won the championship.

Take a survey today of the nation’s biggest sports mavens and it seems pretty unlikely that more than a handful of them could tell you that Dario Franchitti overcame the challenge of Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon and Team Penske’s Ryan Briscoe to win the finale and, with it, the 2009 title.

It’s a compelling story, considering that Franchitti left the IndyCar Series after winning the championship in 2007 to take a run at NASCAR. That effort was cut short by lack of sponsorship money, but Franchitti’s NASCAR boss, Ganassi, knew he had a quality driver who could work well with two-time champion Dixon in the open-wheel series.

Franchitti picked up right where he left off in IndyCar, winning five times and finishing in the top five 13 times in 17 starts for the Target team.

But the entire season was a great battle among the top trio, with Dixon winning five times, Briscoe winning three times and the points lead changing hands 15 times in those 17 events.

The technical rules messed up the on-track competition early in the season, making for some fairly boring races. But changes were made and things definitely improved as the season went on.

Unfortunately, with IndyCar now being shown on Versus, hardly anybody was  watching. Even many of the people who actually had the cable channel available found other things to do or other things to watch.

That too is a shame because Versus did a very decent job of covering the series _ much better than ABC/ESPN have in recent years. More from Mike Harris article at RacinToday.com

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