Franchitti beats Briscoe to Iowa win

Dario Franchitti claimed his second IndyCar win of the season at Iowa Speedway as Ryan Briscoe yet again dominated only to be denied victory in the closing stages

Franchitti beats Briscoe to Iowa win

Jumped by his Ganassi rival at the final stops, Penske driver Briscoe had to settle for another second place, albeit one that bolstered his points lead.

Andretti Green's Hideki Mutoh took an excellent third ahead of Dan Wheldon (Panther), with Scott Dixon completing the top five for Ganassi.

The first half of the race was an extremely wild affair - the action starting immediately as EJ Viso spun into the wall and Robert Doornbos slid into Ryan Hunter-Reay on the opening lap.

Once racing got underway following this early yellow, Dixon attacked the leading Penske pair, passing Briscoe for second and then taking first from polesitter Helio Castroneves on lap 16.

But as Castroneves tried to retaliate on the exit of the corner, contact was made between his front wing and Dixon's rear tyre, causing minor damage to both and prompting a yellow to clear the debris.

While many of the drivers pitted at this point, Briscoe stayed out and assumed the lead, ahead of the highly impressive Tomas Scheckter, who had surged around the outside of the pack at the start in his Dreyer & Reinbold car.

They waited until lap 35 and the third yellow - caused by Justin Wilson (Dale Coyne Racing) spinning into the Turn 2 wall - before pitting for the first time, after which it was Danica Patrick's turn to hit the front, the Andretti Green driver having made a very early first stop when she cut a tyre on debris.

She was able to get back on sequence when the fourth yellow followed 19 laps later, this time due to Luczo Dragon's Raphael Matos spinning into the wall and KV's Mario Moraes crashing in avoidance.

With the field dwindling fast, that fortunately proved to be the last incident for a while. Tony Kanaan emerged up front at the restart for AGR, the Brazilian being the best of those who had pitted during the Dixon/Castroneves yellow on lap 20, and edged away as Scheckter and Wheldon battled for second in his wake.

Kanaan was hoping for another yellow to allow him to make his second pitstop, but ultimately had to give up and pit under green, going a lap down. Ironically he then caused the yellow he had wanted, as he crashed on cold tyres at Turn 2.

The yellow for that accident finally allowed the whole field to pit and get back on the same fuel strategy, and Briscoe and Franchitti proceeded to dominate from then on.

Franchitti jumped the Australian at what proved to be the final restart just before half-distance, but Briscoe stayed on his tail and hounded the Scot for 15 laps before sweeping back ahead around the outside.

Briscoe then pulled clear, only traffic allowing Franchitti to threaten him, and looked like he would finally get his second win of the year and make up for the frustrations of recent weeks.

Incredibly, though, Briscoe would find victory snatched away in the closing stages for the third straight race, as Franchitti ran two laps further when they made their final stops under green, and emerged a second ahead of Briscoe.

On this set of tyres Franchitti had the pace to charge away, accelerating out of Briscoe's reach and proceeding to lap all bar Briscoe, Mutoh, who had quietly progressed to third at the track where he scored his last podium a year earlier, and Wheldon.

Dixon and Castroneves took fifth and seventh, having never quite got back into contention following their early incident.

Scheckter dropped back to a still praiseworthy sixth at the final stops, with his team-mate Mike Conway eighth ahead of Patrick and Ed Carpenter (Vision).

Among the handful of other finishers, Graham Rahal lost several laps when he had to pit under green for checks following a brush with Patrick, while Marco Andretti had a troubled race in his spare car after yesterday's crash and finished six laps down.

Doornbos was able to rejoin following a 157-lap pitstop for repairs and covered enough laps to ensure he was classified ahead of rookie title rival Matos.

Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Dario Franchitti Ganassi 1h39m47.9077s 2. Ryan Briscoe Penske + 5.0132s 3. Hideki Mutoh Andretti Green + 10.9769s 4. Dan Wheldon Panther + 17.5807s 5. Scott Dixon Ganassi + 1 lap 6. Tomas Scheckter Dreyer & Reinbold + 1 lap 7. Helio Castroneves Penske + 1 lap 8. Mike Conway Dreyer & Reinbold + 1 lap 9. Danica Patrick Andretti Green + 1 lap 10. Ed Carpenter Vision + 2 laps 11. Graham Rahal Newman/Haas/Lanigan + 5 laps 12. Marco Andretti Andretti Green + 6 laps 13. Jaques Lazier 3G + 13 laps Retirements: Tony Kanaan Andretti Green 108 laps Robert Doornbos Newman/Haas/Lanigan 58 laps Raphael Matos Luczo Dragon 53 laps Mario Moraes KV 52 laps Justin Wilson Coyne 33 laps Ryan Hunter-Reay Foyt 2 laps EJ Viso HVM 0 laps 
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Series IndyCar
Author Matt Beer
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