2009 IRL Reports: Honda Performance Development[HPD]

IRL Team reports for the 2009 IRL season

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Postby mlittle » Mon Jul 13, 2009 1:55 pm

Franchitti Prevails to Reclaim Toronto Crown

Dario Franchitti recovered from a problematic first pit stop to claim Sunday's Honda Indy Toronto, his third victory of the 2009, and return to the top of the IndyCar drivers' championship standings after 10 of 17 races. It also was Franchitti's 21st victory scored with Honda power in CART and IndyCar competition, extending his record as Honda's most successful open-wheel racer.

Starting from the pole, Franchitti led the first 24 laps around the 1.755-mile street circuit, but a delay changing his left rear wheel during a planned "short fill" stop dropped him to 12th place. The Target Chip Ganassi driver made up three positions on track, and then caught a major break when the yellow caution flag flew on Lap 59, just as he was making his final stop. That enabled Franchitti to resume in second behind Helio Castroneves, who Franchitti passed on Lap 65 as the pair entered Turn 3 at the end of the long Shoreline Drive straight. Franchitti led the rest of the way to claim the win and a narrow, two-point lead in the drivers' championship over his fourth-finishing teammate, Scott Dixon.

The 23 drivers in this weekend's field ran a total of 7,149.9 miles in practice, qualifying and racing without a single engine-related failure for the Honda HI9R Indy V-8.

The pair of Canadian drivers in the field gave the large Toronto crowd many exciting moments, as Alex Tagliani led 21 laps for Conquest Racing and local favorite Paul Tracy ran second for most of that same period. However, Tracy would drop out on Lap 65 after colliding with Castroneves as the pair fought for second place. Tagliani would also be delayed by his involvement in a three-car pile-up with Tomas Scheckter and Mario Moraes, but would recover to finish ninth.

Following Franchitti home at the checkers was Ryan Briscoe, notching his fifth second-place finish in the last six races, and teammate Will Power, making the third of a planned seven race starts in a third Team Penske entry. Justin Wilson, winner of last week's race at Watkins Glen, survived his own instances of contact to finish fifth behind Dixon, while Danica Patrick posted yet another strong road-course performance to climb from 18th on the starting grid to sixth at the finish.

After racing on four consecutive weekends, the IndyCar Series now takes a one-week break before resuming in Canada with the July 26 Rexall Edmonton Indy.

Dario Franchitti (#10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) Started 1st, finished 1st, 3rd win of 2009, 21st open-wheel racing win, all with Honda power: "I love coming to Canada. It's been 10 years since my first victory here [in the 1999 CART race] and it's great to be back once again. Our car was fast all day, and particularly quick on restarts, and that worked to our advantage several times today. With all the different pit strategies, I got caught behind a lot of slower cars for a long time in the middle stint. But we got a huge break on the last pit stop, with the timing of the yellow flag, and that got us up at the front once again. I could see Helio [Castroneves] was struggling on the 'Reds' [alternate compound tires] and once we were past him, it came down to nailing the restarts and not making any mistakes to the end."

Ryan Briscoe (#6 Team Penske Honda) Started 11th, finished 2nd, his fifth 2nd-place finish in the last six races: "It definitely was an exciting race. I think the track layout makes for great racing. With the long straight leading to the tight corner at Turn 3, it's one of the few street courses where you can really pass. We never had to save fuel, either, and I think that also made for good racing. Right at the start, I got hit and had to pit to change tires. That put us almost a lap down, but then the next caution gave us a chance to get back into the game. Once the pit stops played out, we were back near the front."

Erik Berkman (President, Honda Performance Development) on today's race: "I think the fans got quite a show today. There certainly was a lot of action throughout the race, and they got to see both Paul Tracy and Alex Tagliani contend for the victory. Congratulations to Dario Franchitti on extending his record for most Honda open-wheel victories, and to his entire Target Chip Ganassi Racing team. Thanks also to our associates at HPD and Ilmor for four consecutive perfect races with the Honda Indy V-8. And finally, thanks to our Honda Canada neighbors for helping to return this great event to the streets of Toronto."
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Postby mlittle » Sat Jul 25, 2009 11:42 am

Honda Edmonton Friday Practice Report

Penske Teammates Lead Opening Edmonton Practice

Team Penske's Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe headed IndyCar Series practice Friday on the 1.98-mile Edmonton City Centre Airport temporary circuit, as preparations began for Sunday's Rexall Edmonton Indy.

Made up of runways and taxiways connected by several high-speed bends, the challenging airport circuit claimed several victims today in a pair of practice sessions. Most were harmless spins, including that of Toronto race winner Dario Franchitti, making his first visit to Edmonton. But early in the second practice the Panther Racing entry of Dan Wheldon spun exiting Turn 3 and hit the Turn 4 barrier nose first, bouncing off the wall and collecting the Honda Dallara of Danica Patrick. Neither driver was injured, however both were done for the day with extensive damage to their cars.

Action continues here Saturday with Firestone Fast Six qualifying at 5:15 pm EDT. Sunday's race starts at 6 p.m. EDT. Versus will provied live coverage of both qualifying and the race.

Helio Castroneves (#3 Team Penske Honda) fastest in practice: "Our car was very good right from the start today and stayed quick, even as the track changed quite a lot as the day progressed. It's a bumpy circuit, but it's so wide in most places that you can take chances you wouldn't take on other temporary tracks. It was very dirty off-line, and I think you saw that today with some of the spins. But we're at an airport, so it's exciting to be flying so close to the ground!"
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Postby mlittle » Sun Jul 26, 2009 12:06 pm

Power Leads Penske Edmonton Qualifying Sweep

Will Power led a 1-2-3 sweep for Team Penske in IndyCar Series qualifying Saturday at the Edmonton City Centre Airport temporary circuit for Sunday's Rexall Edmonton Indy. Power, who is driving a third Penske entry in a limited schedule, headed teammates Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves.

It is Power's second Edmonton pole -- he also was fastest qualifier for the Champ Car race here in 2007 -- and his second IndyCar pole, the first coming at Long Beach in April.

Defending race winner Scott Dixon will start fourth for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, while Graham Rahal qualified fifth in his Newman Haas Lanigan Racing Honda Dallara. Making his first appearance at Edmonton, current IndyCar Series points leader Dario Franchitti rounded out the Firestone "Fast Six" qualifiers today.

Will Power (#12 Team Penske Honda) pole qualifier, his second pole of 2009: "This qualifying format is exhausting. It's almost like a race, with strategy, timing and some really hard driving through all three segments. My guys are fantastic. They may not be here every weekend [Power runs a partial schedule] but they're 'Penske material' -- and that's as good as you get."

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Postby mlittle » Tue Jul 28, 2009 12:56 pm

Power Leads Penske 1-2 Finish in Edmonton

Part-time Team Penske driver Will Power dominated Sunday's Rexall Edmonton Indy, leading 90 of the 95 laps for his first IndyCar Series victory in just five starts this season, and leading teammate Helio Castroneves to the checkers for a 1-2 Team Penske finish.

Starting from the pole, Power surrendered the lead only to make his two scheduled stops, and frequently led by as many as six seconds until a full-course caution on the penultimate lap closed the gap to just over one second. The caution, the result of a spin by Tomas Scheckter into the Turn 9 barriers, spoiled what would have been the first caution-free race in IndyCar Series history. Still, the single lap of yellow at the end of the race established a new series record for fewest caution-flag laps.

The 23 drivers in this weekend's field ran a total of 8,270 miles in practice, qualifying and racing on the runways and taxiways that make up the temporary Edmonton City Centre airport circuit; once again without a single engine-related failure for the Honda HI9R Indy V-8.

Much of the fireworks in today's race came from the battle for second place between Castroneves and Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon, with Ryan Briscoe's Team Penske Honda also freqently in the mix. All three easily out-distanced eventual fifth-place finisher Dario Franchitti.

In the end, a mistake by Briscoe, causing him to brush the wall exiting Turn 9, dropped him back to a fourth-place finish; while Castroneves passed Dixon for the final time on Lap 84, using a "pick" around the lapped car of Ed Carpenter to make his successful move.

Paul Tracy gave his home country fans some excitement early in the race, jumping up from his ninth starting position to sixth on the opening lap, but was unable to advance any further in his KV Racing Honda. In a scary moment, a faulty fuel probe stuck in the open position during Tony Kanaan's first scheduled pit stop, leading to a fire on board his car and in the Andretti Green Racing pits. With help from crewmembers from the Penske, Ganassi and Panther Racing teams, the fire was quickly extinguished and Kanaan escaped with second degree burns on his hands and minor flash burns to his face and neck.

After three road- and street-course events, the IndyCar Series now heads back to an oval with a Saturday night race August 1 at the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway.

Will Power (#12 Team Penske Honda) Started 1st, finished 1st, 1st IndyCar win of 2009 in 5 race starts: "That was a perfect weekend: pole position and the win. I was just a great day for us. The car was perfect, the pit stops were flawless and I think we led all but a handful of laps. I'm very grateful to Roger [Penske] and Tim [Cindric, team president] for giving me this opportunity. You couldn't ask for a better atmosphere to work in with great guys and fantastic teammates. I'm loving every moment of this and hope to be with Team Penske for a long, long time."

Helio Castroneves (#3 Team Penske Honda) Started 3rd, finished 2nd: "It was a very physical race today. I had a good battle with Scott [Dixon] early, but after the first pit stop was able to open up a bit of a gap. Then we all got bottled up in lapped traffic, and made an early second stop. I lost time there, and fell back to fourth. But then Ryan [Briscoe] had a bit of a problem in Turn 9 and slid wide, and I got past him. That brought me back up to Scott and again we got caught up in traffic. Scott went one way and I went the other and I was able to make a clean move on him for second."

Jack Spurney (General Manager, Honda Performance Development) on today's race: "I think all of us at Honda enjoy coming to Canada and working with our friends from Honda Canada. We had beautiful weather here in Edmonton, especially on race day, and a great fan turnout all weekend. Congratulations to Will Power and Team Penske, they really dominated the race; and we were relieved to see Tony Kanaan get out of his pit fire with relatively minor burns. They way the Panther, Penske and Ganassi teams responded to Kanaan's fire was very gratifying to see. They didn't hesitate for an instant before working to put out the fire and get Tony out of the car. Finally, thanks as always to our associates at HPD and technical partner Ilmor for another perfect race with the Honda Indy V-8."

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Postby mlittle » Mon Aug 03, 2009 8:48 pm

Briscoe Edges Carpenter in Kentucky Thriller

Never separated by more than a split second, and frequently side by side, Ryan Briscoe
and Ed Carpenter battled for the final 23 laps of Saturday night's Meijer Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway, with Briscoe prevailing at the checkers by just over 16-thousandths of a second.

It was the closest IndyCar Series finish at Kentucky and the 11th-closest finish in series history. Slowed by only one caution flag, tonight's race was the second-fastest in series history, with an average speed of 200.893 mph. Aerodynamic rule changes implemented this weekend and the debut of a Honda "power assist" button, providing drivers with an additional 5-20 horsepower for 12 seconds with each use, resulted in an exciting 200-lap race with 23 lead changes among seven drivers.

Despite weather-related delays on both days of the race weekend, 23 drivers ran a total of 8,660 miles on the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway oval; once again without a single engine-related failure for the Honda HI9R Indy V-8.

As the leaders made their final pit stops on Lap 177, Carpenter headed a four-car pack that included Briscoe, Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon. Carpenter, who had initially taken the lead on Lap 128, first had to fend off Kanaan, with Dixon and Briscoe side by side and just behind the lead pair. But Dixon faded in the final 10 laps to an eventual seventh-place finish, while Briscoe got around Kanaan and began his attack on Carpenter.

Carpenter and Briscoe then ran side by side from Lap 192 onward, while, just tenths of a second behind, Kanaan and Helio Castroneves had their own side-by-side fight for third place. On Lap 195, Castroneves slid up out of the groove in Turn 2, dropping him to his fourth-place finishing position. Briscoe and Carpenter continued to swap the lead, each using the Honda "power assist" button to edge ahead of the other at different points on the track.

Finally, Briscoe nosed ahead for the final time coming out of Turn 4 on the last lap, to claim his second win of the 2009 season and move to the top of the drivers' championship after 12 of 17 races. Carpenter's second-place finish is his best IndyCar Series result in seven seasons and the best oval-track finish in the five-year history of his Vision Racing team. Kanaan's third-place finish equals his best results of the season, at Kansas and Long Beach, while fifth place for Graham Rahal is his best result since finishing third at Richmond in June.

Next week, the IndyCar Series returns to road racing for the August 9 Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.

Ryan Briscoe (#6 Team Penske Honda) Started 3rd, finished 1st, 2nd IndyCar win of 2009, moves to the drivers' championship points lead: "It was great night and a fantastic race. I had a really good car tonight, I could pass with it. I thought my best chance [to win] was to run on the outside in those final laps. Ed [Carpenter] did a great job, we ran a lot of laps together side by side, and it got very racey for those last five laps or so. I found the spot on the track where I thought the [Honda power assist] button would help me the most: getting an edge on him coming off Turn 4. I used the button as much as I could, and I could tell when Ed was using it, too. It was very hard fought out there, intense. I don't think I've ever been so excited crossing the finish line."

Ed Carpenter (#20 Vision Racing Honda) Started 14th, finished 2nd, career-best IndyCar result: "I'm really happy, that is our career-best finish and the team did a great job tonight. We've had such a tough year. It was fun to run that close to a [Team] Penske car for lap after lap and my car was handling really well. I could place it anywhere on the race track. It was good, close racing with Ryan [Briscoe]. I hope the fans enjoyed it. I kept the low line and he ran on the outside. I hit the power button for the last time on the last lap going up the back straight, but I guess he just got his nose in front of me coming out of the last turn."

Jack Spurney (General Manager, Honda Performance Development) on today's race: "What a fantastic race! I think the series made a great call with their recent rule changes. The racing certainly seemed to benefit from them. Congratulations to both Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe and to Ed Carpenter and his Vision Racing team on giving the fans a clean and exciting race to the finish. Finally, thanks as always to our associates at HPD and technical partner Ilmor for another perfect race with the Honda Indy V-8, and the development of the power assist button, which I think also played a key role in making tonight's race memorable."
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Postby mlittle » Sun Aug 09, 2009 1:15 pm

Honda Indy 200 Practice Report
Circuit: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (2.25-mile road course) Lexington, OH
2008 Winner: Ryan Briscoe (Team Penske Honda) 94.873 mph average
Weather: Sunny, warm, 86 degrees F

Dixon Paces Practice at Mid-Ohio

Scott Dixon led the field in IndyCar Series practice Friday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in preparation for Sunday's Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. Watkins Glen race winner Justin Wilson posted the second-quickest time around the 2.5-mile Mid-Ohio road course with Dario Franchitti rounding out the top three in the final moments of the session.

Coming on the heels of a third-place finish last weekend at Kentucky Speedway, Tony Kanaan posted the fourth-fastest time for Andretti Green Racing, with local favorite and Columbus native Graham Rahal rounding out the top five. Brought in as a last-minute substitute for Mario Moraes, who is attending funeral services for his father in Brazil, Paul Tracy was sixth overall for KV Racing Technology.

Action continues here Saturday with Firestone Fast Six qualifying at 12:30 pm EDT with same-day television coverage on Versus at 6 p.m. EDT. Sunday's race starts at 1:45 p.m. EDT, with the television broadcast on Versus starting at 1 p.m.

Scott Dixon (#9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) fastest in practice: "We tested here right after Toronto, so our car was very good right from the start. I guess being quickest helps validate the testing we did! The biggest challenge was trying to get a put a good lap together free of traffic. The track is pretty good. I think our times today were comparable both to our test and the first day of practice last year. The track will get quicker, as it always does here, but it's a great start for the weekend, and a 1-3 result is encouraging for the whole team."
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Postby mlittle » Mon Aug 10, 2009 2:44 am

Briscoe, Wilson, Qualify 1-2 at Mid-Ohio

Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe and Dale Coyne Racing's Justin Wilson qualified 1-2 Saturday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for Sunday's Honda Indy 200, the second time in as many events this season for the pair to have done so on a traditional road course.

In July, Briscoe took the pole at Watkins Glen International Raceway, with Wilson qualifying second. In the race Wilson claimed the victory -- the first for Dale Coyne Racing -- after holding off Briscoe during the final half-dozen laps. Today's qualifying action at the 2.5-mile Mid-Ohio circuit sets up a possible rematch in Sunday's 85-lap event.

Quickest in practice on Friday, Scott Dixon will line up third, with local favorite Graham Rahal on the outside front row in fourth. Helio Castroneves and Dario Franchitti rounded out today's Firestone "Fast Six" qualifiers.

Sunday's race starts at 1:45 p.m. EDT, with live television coverage on Versus starting at 1 p.m.

Ryan Briscoe (#12 Team Penske Honda) pole qualifier, his third pole of 2009, seventh career IndyCar pole: "Qualifying today really came down to tire management. We were able to save a set of [alternate, softer] 'Red' tires in the first [qualifying] round, and that was to our benefit in the final round. Our car has been getting better as we've adapted to the track conditions this weekend. But it will be hotter tomorrow and, once again, it will be a tough battle at the front."
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Postby mlittle » Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:50 pm

Honda Indy 200 Race Report
Circuit: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (2.25-mile road course) Lexington, OH
2008 Winner: Ryan Briscoe (Team Penske Honda) 94.873 mph average
Weather: Sunny, warm, 91 degrees F

Dixon Reclaims Points Lead with Mid-Ohio Victory

A textbook performance by Scott Dixon Sunday at the Honda Indy 200 led to the fourth IndyCar Series victory of the season for the Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver and a return to the top of the championship points table, with just four races remaining.

Starting third, Dixon saved fuel during the first third of today's 85-lap run over the 2.25-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, enabling him to pit two laps later than his rivals. Emerging from the first round of pit stops in second place, behind early leader Justin Wilson, Dixon moved into the lead on Lap 34 with a decisive pass as he and Wilson approaced lapped traffic. Dixon went on to command the rest of the race, setting fastest race lap just prior to his second and final pit stop; and surrendering the lead only briefly to an out-of-sequence Marco Andretti.

During a hot and humid race day, 21 drivers ran a total of 7,546 miles this weekend at Mid-Ohio -- the 44th consecutive IndyCar Series without a single engine-related failure for the Honda HI9R Indy V-8.

Dixon's strongest rival, Dale Coyne Racing's Wilson, led for 28 laps after an exciting pass of pole qualifier Ryan Briscoe when the latter briefly slid off-line over the crest of the Turn 8 hill. Wilson went on to build up a six-second lead over Briscoe until the first round of pit stops, and remained in contention until waiting one lap too long before making his second and final stop. Wilson ran out of fuel entering Pit Lane, and the resultant stall before rejoining the race dropped him to an unrepresentative 13th-place finish.

Much of the action in the final laps was provided by the battle between Briscoe and Dario Franchitti for second place, with the pair running nose-to-tail for much of the final 20 laps. However, Franchitti was unable to mount a successful passing attempt and took the checkers just over two-tenths of a second behind Briscoe.

Ryan Hunter-Reay had his best IndyCar result since moving from Vision Racing in June, finishing fourth for A.J. Foyt Racing. Andretti Green Racing's Hideki Mutoh rounded out the top five finishers, holding off teammate Marco Andretti for this third top-five result of the season, and best since finishing fourth at Richmond in June.

The IndyCar Series now takes a one-week break before heading west to California for the final road-race event of the season, the August 23 Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma County at Infineon Raceway.

Scott Dixon (#10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) Started 3rd, finished 1st, fourth win of 2009 and IndyCar Series record-setting 20th career victory (16 with Honda power): "What a day. I can't say anything more about the team, they gave me such a great car. It's great to finally win on a road course this year, and fantastic to have the points lead once more and that 20th career win. And we had passing at Mid-Ohio! Justin [Wilson] was pretty quick in the early going, and we were bottled up for a bit behind Ryan [Briscoe]. But once I was up to second, I was able to use lapped traffic as a bit of a "pick" and get around him. Then our car was so good on the primary [black] tires, it all came down to hitting my marks and not making any mistakes to the finish."

Ryan Briscoe (#6 Team Penske Honda) Started 1st, finished 2nd: "Our car wasn't at its best on the [alternate tire] 'Reds' that we ran at the start, and when I got a little loose at one point Justin [Wilson] made a great move to get around me. Our car got much better on the primary tires, but Dario [Franchitti] put a lot of pressure on us during the last 20 laps. That 'little button' [the Honda power assist] helped us out a lot in the final laps!

Erik Berkman (President, Honda Performance Development) on today's race: "I think the fans got to see a great race today, with a dominating performance from Scott Dixon. It was interesting to see how relaxed he appeared in Victory Circle, while some of his closest competitors looked pretty beat from the heat and humidity. While an 'all red' podium of Ganassi and Penske cars is not an unfamiliar sight this season, it was encouraging to see Justin Wilson have another strong road course run; and great to see strong runs from Ryan Hunter-Reay for the A.J. Foyt team and Hideki Mutoh for Andretti Green Racing. For me personally, it was exciting to see thousands of Honda associates enjoying themselves today at Mid-Ohio, and witnessing another perfect weekend for the Honda Indy V-8 engine. As always, thanks for that goes to our associates at HPD and technical partner Ilmor."
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Postby mlittle » Fri Aug 28, 2009 12:13 am

Franchitti Flies to Infineon Pole

Dario Franchitti used the final moments of third-round "knockout" qualifying to do just that: knock Ryan Briscoe off the pole in IndyCar Series qualifying Saturday at Infineon Raceway, and claim the inside-front-row starting position for Sunday's Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma County.

After leading much of the final, 10-minute "Firestone Fast Six" qualifying, Briscoe will start second, with his Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves, third. Marco Andretti will start fifth for Andretti Green Racing, leading the team in its best overall qualifying effort of the season. Teammate Hideki Mutoh will line up fifth, with Tony Kanaan seventh, rookie Franck Montagny eighth in his IndyCar debut; and Danica Patrick in 11th.

Today's action was marred by a serious three-car crash in the opening practice. Nelson Phillipe spun just over the brow of the blind right-hand Turn 3, and his car was then clipped by E.J. Viso and then stuck violently by Will Power. Viso escaped injury, but Power and Phillipe were transported to an area hospital for treatment of concussions for both drivers, a fractured left foot for Phillipe and a back fractures for Power. Sunday's race starts at 5:45 p.m. EDT, with live television coverage on Versus starting at 5 p.m.

Dario Franchitti (#10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) pole qualifier, his fourth pole of 2009, seventh career IndyCar Series pole: "I'm pretty happy right now. We've made the "Fast Six" [final qualifying round] at every road and street course this year, and that's a great achievement for our team. I think we've got a good race car, and it definitely helps to start up front here. But the championship point [for pole] that we earned today, that's more important than anything."
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Postby mlittle » Fri Aug 28, 2009 12:13 am

Franchitti Goes Flag to Flag at Infineon

Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Dario Franchitti completely controlled Sunday's Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma, leading from start to finish over the rolling hills of Infineon Raceway en route to his fourth IndyCar Series victory of 2009.

It was only the second time in IndyCar Series history that a race has been led throughout by a single driver. Franchitti's teammate, Scott Dixon, is the only other IndyCar driver to accomplish this feat, at Richmond International Raceway in 2003.

But Franchitti had a shadow in the form of Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe, who matched his every move throughout the 75-lap contest to finish second, just 0.24 seconds behind the winner, and reclaiming the drivers' championship points lead with three races remaining.

Starting on the the front row, Franchitti and Briscoe were ahead of a multi-car bumping and barging incident on the opening lap, which affected or delayed at least nine cars including Dixon, who came into Infineon with a three-point lead in the championship. But the first-lap incident, and contact with Marco Andretti on the final lap, dropped Dixon to 13th at the checkers and third in the championship standings, 20 points behind new leader Briscoe. With his fourth win of the year and bonus points for the pole and leading the most laps; Franchitti moves up to second, just four points out of the lead.

Behind the leaders -- who included Helio Castroneves until a suspension failure and the resulting late-race spin ended his day -- battles raged throughout the field.

Hideki Mutoh ran fourth for much of the race, until a late-race passing attempt on Briscoe for second went awry and Mutoh was in turn passed by Mike Conway and Mario Moraes, both of whom had their best finishes of 2009. Conway's third-place result was his first IndyCar podium finish, while today's race for Moraes was the first for the KV Racing driver since the death of his father just over two weeks ago.

Oriol Servia finished sixth in his second race for Newman Haas Lanigan Racing, but only after holding off a determined Justin Wilson for the final 20 laps. Wilson, winner at the Watkins Glen road course in July, started at the back of the field as part of a calculated race strategy that allowed him to use an extra set of softer Firestone "Red" alternate tires. Starting 22nd, Wilson made spectacular progress through the field during the first 50 laps, coming up just short of a top-six result.

Today's race concludes the road-racing portion of the 2009 IndyCar schedule. Next week, the series returns to the ovals for the final three races of the season, starting August 29 with the Peak Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill.

IndyCar Series Standings (after 14 of 17 races): 1. Ryan Briscoe 497 points (2 wins) 7. Tony Kanaan 318 2. Dario Franchitti 493 (4 wins) 8. Dan Wheldon 306 3. Scott Dixon 477 (4 wins) 9. Graham Rahal 301 4. Helio Castroneves 371 (2 wins) 10. Hideki Mutoh 297 5. Danica Patrick 335 11. Justin Wilson 196 (1 win) 6. Marco Andretti 323 12. Ed Carpenter 258

Dario Franchitti (#10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) Started 1st, finished 1st, fourth win of 2009 and 22nd career major open-wheel racing victory (all with Honda power): "It was a great day for us. Track position was so important, and qualifying on the pole was critical as well. There were a couple of 'interesting' moments, mainly with some of the lapped traffic, but I did what I had to do, and my boys did a great job in the pits, as always. I'm feeling pretty good about our [championship] chances. We'll finish the title chase on three ovals and both Target cars are in the running. It's not going to be easy, but I like our chances."

Ryan Briscoe (#6 Team Penske Honda) Started 2nd, finished 2nd, re-claims IndyCar Series drivers' championship lead: "The championship is coming down to these last few races. If we're going to win it, we're going to have to do well in the upcoming [final three] ovals. If we keep our heads down and continue to run strongly, the wins will come for us."

Jack Spurney (General Manager, Honda Performance Development) on today's race: "I thought we had a fabulous race today at a fabulous circuit. Lots of close racing and great battles, not only at the front, but throughout the field. Congratulations to Dario Franchitti for his 22nd Honda-powered win, and fourth of the season, and to Target Chip Ganassi Racing for their 8th win this year. And 'well done' to Mike Conway, Mario Morase and Hideki Mutoh for their excellent runs, as well as to Justin Wilson, who passed more cars today than anyone else on the track."
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Postby mlittle » Sun Aug 30, 2009 10:51 am

Briscoe Claims Chicagoland Pole

IndyCar Series points leader Ryan Briscoe added one more vital point to his total Friday at Chicagoland Speedway, qualifying on the pole for Saturday night's PEAK Indy 300. The championship point he earned for the pole gives Briscoe a five-point lead, 498-493, over Dario Franchitti, with three races remaining.

Defending race winner Helio Castroneves qualified second, alongside teammate Briscoe, to make it an all-Team Penske front row. Franchitti qualified third for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, with his teammate and remaining title challenger, Scott Dixon, in sixth. Andretti Green Racing's Tony Kanaan posted his best qualifying run since Milwaukee to line up fourth, with Graham Rahal fifth for the Newman Haas Lanigan Racing team.

Saturday night's 200-lap race, the first of three oval races that will close out the 2009 IndyCar season, starts at 10 p.m. EDT, with live television coverage on Versus.

Ryan Briscoe (#6 Team Penske Honda) pole qualifier, his fourth pole of 2009 and 8th career IndyCar pole: "Obviously, it was a good run. Today, it really helped to be at the back of the [qualifying] line. I heard from [teammate] Helio [Castroneves, who had qualified earlier] on how his car was working and the track conditions, and that certainly helped me prepare for my run. All four [qualifying] laps were really strong. I had to make just a few adjustments to keep the front end 'under the car', but it was a pretty smooth run -- and one more championship point."
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Postby mlittle » Thu Sep 03, 2009 3:59 am

Briscoe Wins Photo Finish At Chicagoland

Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe and Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon battled wheel-to-wheel for the final 10 laps of Saturday night's Peak Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway, leading a side-by-side and three-wide "freight train" of 13 lead-lap cars across the finish line after 200 laps of exciting, extremely close competition. At the checkers, it was Briscoe edging Dixon by less than eight-thousandths of a second, the fourth-closest finish in IndyCar Series history.

Briscoe's third win of the season gives him a 25-point advantage in the drivers' championship standings over Dixon's teammate, Dario Franchitti, with just two races remaining. Dixon, the remaining driver in championship contention, is 33 points back in third.

The exciting 300-mile contest, which saw all 13 lead-lap cars finish within the same second, capped another weekend of performance and reliability for the Honda Indy V-8 engine, with 23 drivers and teams recording 10,440.88 miles at Chicagoland, once again with 100 percent reliability.

Positions changed frequently throughout the field all race long, but the final, 10-lap "trophy dash" finish was set up when Helio Castroneves suffered an apparent suspension failure on Lap 184, crashing without serious injury in Turn 4. When the green flag waved for the final time on Lap 190, Dixon led from Briscoe and Franchitti. But with five laps to go, the 10-car pack had chased down the leaders, setting up the thrilling finish.

At the front, Briscoe used his "Push to Pass" button on the final lap to move around Dixon on the high side in the run from Turn Four to the finish while, mere inches behind, KV Racing's Mario Moraes capped his best race of the season by following in Briscoe's wheel tracks and edging Franchitti for third by just 19-thousandths of a second.

Graham Rahal held off a charging Ed Carpenter for fifth, while Oriol Servia crossed the line in seventh in just his third start for Newman Haas Lanigan Racing. After leading four laps and running near the front for most of the race, Tomas Schekter fell to eight at the checkers, with rookie Raphael Matos and Watkins Glen race-winner Justin Wilson rounding out the top 10 finishers.

The IndyCar Series continues its run of 1.5-mile ovals to close out the 2009 season, crossing the Pacific Ocean for the September 19 event at Honda's Twin Ring Motegi circuit in Tochigi, Japan.

Ryan Briscoe (#6 Team Penske Honda) Started 1st, finished 1st, third IndyCar Series win of 2009, extends his championship points lead to 25, only the second race this season where the points lead has not changed: "Man, It's huge. That was a big win. I didn't think I would have enough for Scott, but the side draft pulled me right along. I didn't even know if I'd won it; I had to ask the team. I made a mistake during the first pit stop and my guys had trouble getting the fuel in. But we kept our heads down and made up the ground we'd lost. I've said all along we're going to have to win races to win this championship. Hopefully, we can stop those [Ganassi] guys in these final two races."

Scott Dixon (#9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) Started 6th, finished 2nd, his fifth second-place finish at Chicagoland: "I've seen this movie several times before, unfortunately. It seems like I always finish second at Chicago. It was a great race, and my guys did a great job in the pits, but we just didn't seem to have the speed we needed to win. The Penske is clearly just a bit faster now, and we have to work hard to catch up. I think we timed our uses of the overtake button well, we just didn't have enough speed to run with Ryan [Briscoe] or even Helio [Castroneves] in a head-to-head race."

Jack Spurney (General Manager, Honda Performance Development) on tonight's race: "The cold, windy weather added an interesting dimension to the race. It was great to see another exciting IndyCar oval race, with plenty of side-by-side and even three-wide racing. It was one of the most exciting finishes I've ever witnessed, and the 'Push to Pass' seemed to add to the excitement, as we'd hoped. It's unfortunate that both Hideki Mutoh and Helio Castroneves went out with what appeared to be suspension problems, but fortunately they're both okay and the Chicago fans got to see a great race, full of close racing, interesting tactics and an exciting finish."
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Postby mlittle » Thu Sep 24, 2009 11:03 pm

Dixon Storms to Motegi Pole

The final driver to make a qualifying run Friday at Twin Ring Motegi, Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon topped the IndyCar Series field by just over 0.5 mph to claim the pole for the Bridgestone Indy Japan 300. It is Dixon's second pole at the Honda-owned Motegi circuit, and it earned him one more championship point as he attempts to catch series leaders Ryan Briscoe and Dario Franchitti with just two races remaining in the 2009 championship.

Mario Moraes made the most of his first visit to Motegi, and will start from the outside of the front row after qualifying second for KV Racing Technology, his best qualifying effort since joining the IndyCar Series in 2008. Remaining championship contenders Franchitti and Briscoe will start from the second row after qualifying third and fourth, respectively.

Local favorite Hideki Mutoh crashed in Turn 3 during his qualifying attempt, but escaped serious injury. Helio Castroneves, the winner here in 2006, also crashed without injury, hitting the wall exiting Turn 4 while making his qualifying run. Both are expected to start the race at the rear of the field in their backup cars. This weekend's 200-lap race, the penultimate round in the 2009 IndyCar season, starts Friday at 10:30 p.m. EDT, with live television coverage on Versus.

Scott Dixon (#9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) pole qualifier, his second pole of 2009 and fifteeth career IndyCar pole: "Boy, going out last, plus the delays, made for a long [qualifying] session. I even napped for a bit while sitting in the car, waiting. Mario [Moraes] put up some pretty impressive numbers, but we've got a really fast car this weekend and I knew after the first lap that we were in pretty good shape. One point [for the pole] is nice, but we've still got a way to go to catch Ryan [Briscoe] and Dario [Franchitti]. We'll give it our best shot tomorrow and see how things play out."
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Postby mlittle » Thu Sep 24, 2009 11:05 pm

Dixon Victory at Motegi Sets Up Championship Shootout

A 1-2 finish for Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti Saturday at Twin Ring Motegi, combined with a disastrous incident exiting the pit lane for Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe, set up a championship-deciding season finale for the 2009 IndyCar Series next month at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida.

While there was little to separate the Ganassi teammates on the race track, Dixon won the crucial battle in the pits, exiting ahead of Franchitti after two of the three stops each made during the course of the Indy Japan 300, including the crucial final stop on Lap 153. At the finish, Dixon led his teammate by just over 1.4 seconds for a series-leading fifth victory of the season. The win gives Dixon a five-point lead over Franchitti, and an eight-point edge on Briscoe, going the final round of the 17-race championship, scheduled for October 10.

For Briscoe, what started out as a huge break -- running a surprising four laps longer than his rivals during the race's second segment, then pitting just as the yellow flag waved for Mike Conway's crash -- instead became his undoing. Instead of resuming with the lead, Briscoe lost control exiting his pit box, and his Honda Dallara swung left into the wall at Pit-Out, damaging his left-front suspension and leading to a long stop for repairs. He would eventually resume to finish 18th, 15 laps down to the leaders.

The 300-mile contest at the Honda-owned Twin Ring Motegi circuit capped another weekend of reliable performance for the Honda Indy V-8 engine, with 23 drivers and teams recording 10,073.04 miles of practice, qualifying and racing, once again with 100 percent reliability.

Early in the race, second-year IndyCar racer Mario Moraes battled with the leaders. But a troubled first pit stop, when Moraes barely missed his marks in Pit Lane and lost time as his KV Racing team struggled to get him refueled, dropped him from contention for the win. Moraes finished fifth, just behind Newman Haas Lanigan teammates Graham Rahal and Oriol Seriva, who briefly contested third place in the closing laps before Servia ceded the position to Rahal. In another inter-team duel, defending race winner Danica Patrick battled her Andretti Green Racing teammate, Marco Andretti, for sixth place throughout the final third of the race. Dan Wheldon ran as high as third in the middle stages, but lost ground by pitting under green on Lap 151, just before a crash by Ryan Hunter-Reay allowed all other lead-lap cars to pit under the resulting caution. Wheldon would finish seventh as a result, just ahead of Luczo Dragon Racing's Raphael Matos.

The 2009 IndyCar Series now returns to the U.S.A. boasting the second-closest first-though-third battle in series history. The championship-deciding season finale takes place "under the lights" on Saturday night, October 10 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida.

Scott Dixon (#9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) Started 1st, finished 1st, his fifth IndyCar Series win of 2009 and 22nd open-wheel racing victory, retakes championship points lead, 14th series lead change in 16 races this year: "That's definitely what we needed today. Dario was very quick early on; we had to add some front wing and change the tire pressures to improve the car at our first pit stop. But those changes really worked, and now we go to Homestead with a real shot at the championship. It's just a tremendous day for Team Target."

Dario Franchitti (#10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) Started 3rd, finished 2nd: "I think whoever was in front today was the quicker car. Whichever one was in front coming out of the pits had the advantage for that stint. But I have to say thanks to my guys today, they were perfect on all our stops. Wish we could have finished one position higher, but Scott was very quick. It was a great result for the team today, and let's go on to Homestead where, hopefully, either Scott or I will win the championship."

Erik Berkman (President, Honda Performance Development) on today's race: "It all comes down to this: three drivers fighting for the title. I like that; I think everyone likes that. This is the way we would have set it up when the season began back in April. Congratulations to Scott, Dario and everyone at Target Chip Ganassi Racing for an outstanding effort today. And congratulations to all our associates at Honda Performance Development and [technical partner] Ilmor Engineering for another flawless performance. It is particularly gratifying to have the opportunity to demonstrate the same sort of reliability in front of our 'home' crowd that the Honda Indy V-8 has demonstrated throughout the season."
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