Franchitti closes in on title lead

Champ Car ace and Autosport.com columnist Dario Franchitti has moved to within just four points of taking over the CART championship lead from Kenny Brack after finishing second in a thrilling race at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday

Franchitti closes in on title lead

The Scot stormed through from last on the grid to miss out on victory by just two tenths of a second at the 230mph-plus, two-mile oval. It marks a remarkable recent turnaround in fortunes for the former McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver.

Franchitti's bad luck from last year looked have continued into 2001 at the beginning of the season as the Scot had not finished higher than sixth place after six races. But a second in Detroit, followed by victory from last place in Cleveland, put the Team Kool Green driver back in the frame.

Second place on Sunday netted Franchitti another 16 points, taking his tally to 81, just three behind Team Rahal's Brack and six ahead of Helio Castroneves in third.

"We're now second in the points, and we're in good shape for the rest of the season," said Franchitti, who finished second in the championship to Juan Pablo Montoya in 1999 after equalling his points tally, but losing out on countback on their respective number of victories.

Franchitti's second place at Michigan was almost a win as the 27-year-old was leading at the start of the final lap. But his victory hopes were scuppered by a controversial move from eventual winner Patrick Carpentier and his Player's Forsythe team mate Alex Tagliani.

Tagliani provided a draft for Carpentier, but in so doing, left Franchitti and Michel Jourdain Jr, who finished third, almost banging wheels and with nowhere to go. While the move was deemed very dangerous by Franchitti, he was happy to look on the bright side.

"It's important that we don't make a massive issue out of it," he said. "It was an unacceptably dangerous move, and 'Tag' probably knows he shouldn't have done it. But the important thing is that Pat won."

The Championship currently stands just beyond the halfway point with 10 rounds still to run. Dario is the man in form at the moment and will be looking to hold the initiative, especially with three consecutive road courses coming up after an oval at Chicago next weekend.

Rival Brack has admitted that after a recent bad run, he needs to turn things around if he is to hold on to his championship lead. He said: "We've had some pretty bad luck lately and it's time to turn it around for the second half of the season."

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