Ganassi lauds 'mature' Franchitti

Chip Ganassi said his driver Dario Franchitti richly deserved the IndyCar Series title after the Scot played the fuel strategy perfectly and benefited from a caution-free race to claim the championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway

Ganassi lauds 'mature' Franchitti

Franchitti ran behind the two other contenders, Penske's Ryan Briscoe and his Ganassi team-mate Scott Dixon, for most of the afternoon, but paced himself to make the 200-lap race in just three stops while Briscoe and Dixon each had to make a fourth stop late in the race.

"There are a lot of guys who win races, but not many who win championships," Ganassi said. "Dario is the type who wins championships. It takes quite a driver to maintain his composure during a race like this and let things play out. That takes a level of maturity that most drivers don't have."

When Briscoe pitted with five laps remaining, Franchitti took the lead and held it to the finish.

"I just had to try to save some fuel and stay on strategy," Franchitti said. "It just worked out."

While Franchitti was being patient, Briscoe and Dixon were exchanging the lead. Dixon passed Briscoe on the 110th lap, but Briscoe regained the lead on the 124th lap. With 55 laps remaining, both Briscoe and Dixon pitted, but Franchitti made it another five laps before he had to pit.

"We just ran the wrong strategy," Dixon said. "I've got to give them credit. They put it out there and it worked for them. It sucks to finish second in the championship, but that's the way it goes."

Briscoe finished second in the race, with Dixon third. Franchitti finished with 616 points, with Dixon second at 605 and Briscoe third at 604. It was Franchitti's second IndyCar championship in two years: he won the title in 2007 with Andretti Green Racing, ran for Chip Ganassi's NASCAR team in 2008, then returned to Indycars with Ganassi this season.

Franchitti's title was the seventh championship in open-wheel racing for Ganassi, who has won three in the IndyCar Series, including two with Dixon. This was Ganassi's best season to date, with Dixon and Franchitti combining for 10 wins in 17 races.

"Our team was challenged to come through with fewer tools than we've had in previous years," Ganassi said. "They responded."

The Homestead event was the first time in the series' 14-year history that a race has gone without a caution. Because of the lack of yellows, the race's average speed of 201.420 mph was the second-fastest in series history. Dixon said Franchitti's decision to save fuel was not made until after he fell off the pace.

"It was very strange," Dixon said. "Every 10 laps, you'd start thinking, 'I can't understand why there hasn't been a yellow.' Even our cars were very tough to drive. I had a tonne of moments, and some of the other cars out there were worse than us. I don't think it was a risk for Dario. They knew quite early that they didn't have the speed."

Franchitti's strategy also caught Briscoe and Team Penske off guard. Briscoe led 103 of the 200 laps, but finished second in the race and third in the championship.

"It's pretty frustrating because it was one of the best races I've ever run," Briscoe said. "I just hate it that it came down to fuel strategy. It's a whole championship. Dario has been great all year long, so congrats to him, but this hurts."

shares
comments
Franchitti clinches IndyCar title

Previous article

Franchitti clinches IndyCar title

Next article

Franchitti surprised to win 2009 title

Franchitti surprised to win 2009 title
Load comments
Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up? Plus

Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up?

Despite appearing to have an IndyCar job for life with Meyer Shank Racing, Jack Harvey’s departure and move to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing sparked plenty of debate. However, Harvey's and RLL's combined strengths could prove to be a winning combination - if they get the balance right

IndyCar
Oct 17, 2021
Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing IndyCar win Plus

Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing IndyCar win

Saturday 16 October marks the 10th anniversary of Dan Wheldon’s death. David Malsher-Lopez pays tribute, then asks Wheldon’s race engineer from 2011, Todd Malloy, to recall that magical second victory at the Indianapolis 500

IndyCar
Oct 16, 2021
Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting Plus

Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting

Kyle Kirkwood, the record-setting junior formula driver, sealed the Indy Lights championship last weekend. But despite an absurdly strong junior career and scholarship money, his next move is far from clear

IndyCar
Oct 6, 2021
Why IndyCar title glory is just the start for Ganassi's new star Plus

Why IndyCar title glory is just the start for Ganassi's new star

Newly-crowned IndyCar champion Alex Palou has been lauded as a complete driver and veteran-like in only his second season. The 24-year-old is still in the early days of his career, but the parallels are there for all to see with his six-time champion Chip Ganassi Racing team-mate who has been CGR's team leader since 2014

IndyCar
Sep 28, 2021
Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar Plus

Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar

One of motorsport’s worst-kept secrets is now out in the open, and Romain Grosjean has been confirmed as an Andretti Autosport IndyCar driver in 2022. It marks a remarkable turnaround after the abrupt end to his Formula 1 career, and is a firm indication of his commitment to challenge for the IndyCar Series title  

IndyCar
Sep 24, 2021
Why IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still far from over Plus

Why IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still far from over

OPINION: The 2021 IndyCar silly season has been one of the silliest for many years, as many talented drivers remain in play – with new pieces to the puzzle being added all the time. Here's what we know so far about who will end up where in 2022

IndyCar
Sep 15, 2021
Why IndyCar's generational shift isn't as stark as it appears Plus

Why IndyCar's generational shift isn't as stark as it appears

OPINION: The rise of two drivers racing only their second full-season IndyCar campaigns to head the points with four races to go has led to some observers doubting the credentials of the old guard. But they haven't faded away, there's merely a deeper talent pool that is helping to make this season one of the best in recent years

IndyCar
Aug 20, 2021
The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career Plus

The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career

Emerson Fittipaldi’s decision to go racing with his brother led to him falling out of F1, but he bloomed again on the IndyCar scene. NIGEL ROEBUCK considers a career of two halves

Formula 1
Jul 31, 2021