Rockingham 500, September 14

The sense of relief is palpable as Dario Franchitti crosses the finish line at the Rockingham 500. The Scot has held a narrow lead over title rival Cristiano da Matta in the closing stages, the British crowd left holding its breath, willing Dario to hold his nerve. He doesn't disappoint

Rockingham 500, September 14

As the Team Green Lola-Honda takes the flag, Franchitti sets a career landmark that is important in more ways than one. Finally, he has broken his duck on oval tracks - and what a place to do it. To deliver a victory at Rockingham after racing for so long away from his homeland proves to be one of the sweetest moments of his career.

Only weeks later will the full significance of his victory set in. This might have been his first Champ Car win on an oval, but it also looks set to be his last altogether. Team Green announces that it is switching to the rival Indy Racing League - and Dario is quitting Champ Cars to go with them.

Franchitti proudly flies the Scottish flag during a podium ceremony that appears to last almost as long as the race itself. Meanwhile down in the pit road another British driver is celebrating, and feels equally as happy with his days work.

Why? Ninth place doesn't sound particularly exciting at first glance. But the performance Darren Manning has just put in could prove to be the turning point of a career that had appeared to be on the slide.

The Yorkshireman's single-seater career was in trouble. Three years in Formula 3000 had proved ultimately unsuccessful and Formula 1 was looking like a closed shop despite his test deal with BAR. This one-off CART drive with a specially-formed Team St George was a huge break for Manning.

As Darren stands in the Rockingham pit road, he realises that he has made the most of this golden opportunity. He has just mixed it with the biggest names in US single-seater racing and even led the race - for more laps than any other rookie in his first race than Nigel Mansell.

Darren's reputation has soared in the past 500 miles back to where it should be. In terms of US motorsport, Manning's name is on the map. For both men, this is a day to remember.

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