Briscoe beats Patrick to Texas win
|By Matt Beer||Sunday, June 6th 2010, 02:59 GMT|
Ryan Briscoe got his hitherto messy IndyCar season on track by beating the impressive Danica Patrick to victory at Texas Motor Speedway.
In one of the most competitive performances of her career so far, Andretti Autosport driver Patrick emerged as polesitter Briscoe's main rival in the second half of the race, but the Penske driver was able to fend her off and clinch his first win of 2010.
Ganassi's Dario Franchitti led much of the race before fading to fifth, while damage from debris and a failed fuel gamble left Will Power (Penske) back in 14th - which allowed Franchitti to take over the championship lead.
To add to a strong day for Andretti Autosport, Marco Andretti won a big battle with Scott Dixon (Ganassi) to claim third.
Briscoe held the lead throughout the opening stint, despite some concerted pressure from Franchitti, and eventually started pulling away as Power took second from the Indy 500 winner.
But Franchitti hit the front during the first pitstops - which took place under a debris caution - as Briscoe lost time and fell to fifth.
That made Power Franchitti's main challenger for a while, until a lap 97 yellow caused by a terrifying fiery crash for HVM's Simona de Silvestro, who escaped with minor burns to her hand. Power collected debris under his car during the caution and had to make an additional stop for repairs.
By then Briscoe was back up to second, chasing Franchitti. Their battle was interrupted on lap 129 when Mario Moraes (KV) pinched a furious Helio Castroneves (Penske) into the wall, and Conquest driver Bertrand Baguette's race also ended as his bid to thread between the two crashing cars failed. It had already been a difficult night for Castroneves, who was struggling with communication and handling problems and had dropped to the upper midfield.
Fazzt's Alex Tagliani and Power chose not to stop under the consequent yellow so had brief turns in the lead. Franchitti and Dixon took the restart right behind them, but both faded during the next stint - dramatically in Franchitti's case, as he tumbled right back to 13th while Briscoe and Patrick started to squabble over the lead, the latter having been among the frontrunners from the outset.
Patrick made her final stop a lap earlier than Briscoe and momentarily swept into the lead as her rival got back up to speed, but she could not hang on for long before Briscoe inched past to reclaim first place. As they hit traffic, Briscoe started to build an advantage again, eventually winning by 1.4 seconds.
Power got back up to third when the others made their last stops, but never got the yellow he needed to stretch his fuel load to the finish, so had to make a late 'splash and go'.
That left Andretti and Dixon to race for third until the end, while Franchitti regained some speed late on and took fifth ahead of Tony Kanaan (Andretti).
Both Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti) and Alex Lloyd (Dale Coyne) dropped from the top ten to the back due to missing their marks at pitstops, before surging back to finish seventh and eighth, followed by Panther's Dan Wheldon and Foyt's Vitor Meira.
EJ Viso was a top five factor for a while before slipping back to 11th. He was the only KV driver running at the flag - Takuma Sato having crashed early on, suspecting a suspension failure.
Pos Driver Team Gap 1. Ryan Briscoe Penske 228 laps 2. Danica Patrick Andretti + 1.4629s 3. Marco Andretti Andretti + 2.3162s 4. Scott Dixon Ganassi + 3.0770s 5. Dario Franchitti Ganassi + 7.5882s 6. Tony Kanaan Andretti + 8.0664s 7. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti + 13.9390s 8. Alex Lloyd Dale Coyne + 14.3084s 9. Dan Wheldon Panther + 15.0859s 10. Vitor Meira Foyt + 15.8250s 11. EJ Viso KV + 18.8687s 12. Hideki Mutoh Newman/Haas + 23.0449s 13. Tomas Scheckter Dreyer & Reinbold + 1 lap 14. Will Power Penske + 1 lap 15. Sarah Fisher Sarah Fisher + 1 lap 16. Raphael Matos De Ferran Dragon + 2 laps 17. Mario Romancini Conquest + 2 laps 18. Alex Tagliani Fazzt + 3 laps 19. Justin Wilson Dreyer & Reinbold + 3 laps Retirements Helio Castroneves Penske 129 laps Mario Moraes KV 129 laps Bertrand Baguette Conquest 129 laps Milka Duno Dale Coyne 116 laps Simona de Silvestro HVM 97 laps Takuma Sato KV 56 laps Jay Howard Sarah Fisher 37 laps