Dario Franchitti said the credit for his Iowa Speedway victory should go to the Ganassi mechanics after he emerged from the final cycle of pitstops ahead of Ryan Briscoe with 50 laps remaining, then pulled away through traffic to win.
The victory, Franchitti's second in his two races at Iowa's 7/8th-mile oval, put him within three points of Briscoe in the IndyCar Series standings. It was Franchitti's second win of the season and first since winning on the streets of Long Beach in April.
"The guys today were phenomenal," Franchitti said of his pit crew. "They made three places on one stop under yellow. To gain that kind of advantage against the competition we have in that pitlane is amazing.
"After the last stop, the car was fantastic, and I was able to pull away and have a good gap on Ryan. He was catching me a little bit, but I was able to get through traffic really well and then go.
"You've got to have a good car under all conditions, and that's where the Target guys did a good job with the set-up. It was good in all conditions, and we definitely seemed to have an advantage on cold tyres. Ryan was hanging on pretty tightly, it looked like, on those restarts. The car was at its best on lap 250. Timing is everything."
Briscoe said he felt like he was not fast enough on his in-lap during the final stop, and did not have time to practice his entry laps.
"I felt like I left a little on the table coming in on the backstretch," Briscoe said. "It was the first time I'd really had a chance to practice coming into the pits under green. We missed the first practice session yesterday, and that's when you usually practice in and out laps."
The runner-up finish kept Briscoe in first place in the IndyCar Series standings after seven of 16 races this season. He is the first drier to hold the points lead for two consecutive races, and it is his third consecutive runner-up finish.
Franchitti's win has brought him to within three points of Briscoe. He eventually beat the Penske driver by 5.0132 seconds.
"The car wasn't great yesterday morning," Franchitti said. "We were second quickest. We weren't that happy. In the afternoon, we made two changes and the thing was a rocket ship. Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to show it, because qualifying was rained out."
Briscoe said he thought he might be able to catch Franchitti during the final 50 laps with some help from timing and lapped cars, but Franchitti weaved precisely through traffic and created distance.
"It took me a while to find out where the car needed to be, but once I did, it was lightning quick," Briscoe said. "I had a great battle with Dario. Unfortunately I didn't have enough for him at the end.
"I thought with the lapped traffic coming up I was going to be able to catch him like I did during the previous stint, but he actually got the luckier draw with the traffic and was able to extend the lead. It was tough, but it was a pretty good day to come in second and keep the points lead."
Franchitti added that the Ganassi crew's vital role in his Iowa win made up for mistakes on a pitstop that might have cost him victory in the Indianapolis 500 in May.
"I do my job to the best of my ability, and I leave it to my team, who have absolute faith, to do theirs," he said.
"Everybody, especially me, makes mistakes. But you trust your guys to put the car together right, and you trust them to do great pitstops. You trust the engineers to set the car up right. And they trust me to do my job, so we just let each other get on with it. Today they showed why they're the best in the business."