Sunday, October 10, 2010

Scott Dixon Wins IZOD IndyCar Finale at Homestead

Photo Credit: Dana Garrett

Finishing off this 17-race IZOD IndyCar Series season of 2010 in Florida state, a 27-car field of North America's top open wheel racing teams assembled for the Cafes Do Brasil 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. For drivers and teams still wishing for one more major on-track accomplishment in 2010, they were left with 200 laps around the 1.5 mile oval to leave their season on a high note.

Capping what has been a marvelous season for the Penske Racing and Target-Chip Ganassi Racing squads, each team had one driver poised to become the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series Champion. Penske's Will Power and Target Chip Ganassi's Dario Franchitti would battle through the final IndyCar round of 2010 on the oval of Homestead-Miami Speedway. Claiming first blood in qualifying with Franchitti's #10 car taking pole, Target-Chip Ganassi Racing was immediately positioned perfectly coming to green flag of the Cafes Do Brasil 300.

Though a championship race maintained hotly contested through the first-half of the Homestead-Miami Speedway event, the fight on the track among many of the IZOD IndyCar Series teams provided one of the most exciting open wheel races the oval has held. As dusk fell on the speedway for the Saturday night event, sparks coming from the underbodies of Dallara race cars were like fireworks for what would be an exciting finale to this 2010 tour. 

Dario Franchitti led for the first 42 circuits of the Cafes Do Brasil 300 with teammate Scott Dixon pursuing in second place, an active fight took place 3rd place and back. Moving through the field in a hurry, 8th place starter Tony Kanaan flew this #11 Andretti Autosport to 3rd on the 20th lap. Never winning at the Homestead-Miami track, Kanaan has an 7-season long record of finishing the event which compiles to a 6.14 average race result.

Photo Credit: Ron McQueeney

Based on the fact last year's Homestead-Miami Speedway race ran caution-free, the show on the 1.5 mile oval presented very little on-track excitement. However, thanks to five cautions regrouping the field of IZOD Indy cars, the 2010 race at the Florida race track was much more dramatic than the caution-free 2009 event. Mario Moraes' suffered gearbox failure on his #32 KV Racing Technology car brought out the first yellow flag on lap 36 allowing an opportunity for all the lead lap drivers to receive attention of their pit crews. Franchitti retained the lead but the #6 Penske Racing team used a speedy pit stop to vault their driver Ryan Briscoe into 2nd place. Without the security net of his Target-Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, Franchitti was vulnerable to assault from the Penske Racing #6 car on the lap 42 restart.

Using a strong acceleration run, Briscoe blazed by Dario Franchitti to take the lead on the next lap. For what would be part one of this battle between the two, as Franchitti retook the lead the caution flag came out once more when the #24 Dreyer and Reinbold Racing car driven by Ana Beatriz met the turn 4 wall. Only the female Brazilian's 3rd IZOD IndyCar event, Beatriz reported gearbox troubles with her vehicle a few laps prior to the ultimate ending in the Homestead-Miami Speedway's retaining wall.

With the first battle cut short by the yellow flag, when the Cafes Do Brasil 300 was sent back to green on lap 51, Dario Franchitti and Ryan Briscoe had a battle for the race's lead. Swapping the lead 5 times at the start/finish line through 6 laps, the #10 Target car and the #6 Verizon vehicle were inavertedly opening the door for competition for chase down the dicing duel.

Not limited to Franchitti and Briscoe, the lead at Homestead-Miami Speedway turned in an IZOD IndyCar battle royal. Demoted to 3rd after lap 37 pit stops, Scott Dixon shot by his teammate and Briscoe to take the lead just as Tony Kanaan was also positioning himself for a run at front. On lap 69, Tony Kanaan received a reward for his effort as the #11 car surges to 1st place. Lasting only 4 laps, the lead would cycle back to Dario Franchitti on lap 73.

Within a long 85-lap stretch since the caution for Ana Beatriz's crash, the lead changed hands during green flag pit stops rewarding Alex Tagliani with a race lead on lap 98. Keeping the FAZZT Race Team car out front for 3 laps, Tagliani would come for service after a brief playtime leading the Cafes Do Brasil 300. Completing the race in 14th spot after a pit road violation cost the #77 team later in this event, the first-year FAZZT Race Team now has a season of experience with some moments of greatness to build on for 2011.

Ending the long green flag run was an incident which would ulimately decide the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series championship. After backsliding through the early stage at Homestead-Miami Speedway out of the top-10, the #12 Penske Racing car of Will Power had been running 3rd approaching the last quarter of the race. Having to run a higher line to keep his car competitive, Power would brush the outside wall through turn 3 and turn 4 on lap 129 causing a yellow flag to be thrown a lap later. As the Penske Racing team were unable to effectively repair the #12 car, Power was sidelined into 25th for the oval race.

Fuel played on the minds of many teams through the final stage of the Cafes Do Brasil 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway as some team risked being only a few laps short of going rest of the race distance. Being solace to teams, a yellow flag slowed the field again as Milka Duno spun in turn 4. Impacting the turn 4 wall in an almost similar fashion to the #24 car, Duno too escaped unhurt from a Dallara-Honda race machine. The final caution for Duno secured the chances for all vehicles to make it to the checkered flag.

Making a conservative choice to pit, the #10 Target-Chip Ganassi Racing team brought Dario Franchitti to this pit stall for fuel and tires through the final 18 lap run to the finish. With Franchitti in 9th place on the restart, the #9 Target car of Scott Dixon led the field fending out Tony Kanaan. Stretching out a 2.76 second lead, Dixon cruised to the finish of the Cafes Do Brasil 300. Compiling three wins in 2010, Dixon's Homestead-Miami Speedway victory contributed to the New Zealander's 3rd place in the overall IZOD IndyCar Series.

As Dixon flew to victory, action since the last restart was dominated by a fierce fight that Danica Patrick brought to Tony Kanaan for the 2nd place position. Perhaps hurting one of them a chance of chasing down Scott Dixon's #9 car, the #11 and #26 ran side-by-side through the final distance as considerable ground on 4th place Briscoe assured this was going to be a two-car battle to the end for the runner-up spot. Into the final lap, Danica Patrick timed a perfect move into turn 1 to grab an edge on Tony Kanaan's car for what would be a 0.0111 second advantage. "After I crossed the line, I said it wasn't a win, but it sure felt like one. This was a great way to end the season." Patrick said perceptive the Andretti Autosport late lap dueling pleased the crowd. Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves rounded out the top-5 of the Homestead-Miami finale.

A wonderful end to the season for team owner Chip Ganassi topped with driver Dario Franchitti repeating as IZOD IndyCar Series championship, the season netted 6 wins including the Indy 500 for the Target-Chip Ganassi Racing. Once again bettering the Penske Racing team in the open wheel racing series, the first full-season effort of Will Power and the later year improvements of Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe provided some rich challenge on Target-Chip Ganassi Racing team race-to-race for 2010. As the Homestead-Miami Speedway ends the IZOD IndyCar season, the cars and drivers of the season will rest until the 2011 season opener in St Petersburg this upcoming March.

2010 IZOD IndyCar Series
Cafes Do Brasil Indy 300
Homestead-Miami Speedway
Race Results

Pos # |Car # |  Driver/Country of Origin  | Team

  1. 9 Scott Dixon/New Zealand Target/Chip Ganassi Racing
  2. 7 Danica Patrick/United States Andretti Autosport
  3. 11 Tony Kanaan/Brazil Andretti Autosport
  4. 6 Ryan Briscoe/Australia Penske Racing
  5. 3 Helio Castroneves/Brazil Penske Racing
  6. 14 Vitor Meira/Brazil AJ Foyt Enterprises
  7. 26 Marco Andretti/United States Andretti Autosport
  8. 10 Dario Franchitti/Scotland Target/Chip Ganassi Racing
  9. 4 Dan Wheldon/England Panther Racing
  10. 02 Graham Rahal/United States Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing
  11. 37 Ryan Hunter-Reay/United States Andretti Autosport
  12. 19 Alex Lloyd/England Dale Coyne Racing
  13. 20 Ed Carpenter/ United States Panther Racing
  14. 77 Alex Tagliani/Canada FAZZT Race Team
  15. 34 Bertrand Baguette/Belgium Conquest Racing
  16. 36 Sebastian Saavedra/Colombia Conquest Racing
  17. 2 Raphael Matos/Brazil Luczo Dragon/de Ferran Motorsports
  18. 5 Takuma Sato/Japan KV Racing Technology
  19. 8 EJ Viso/Venezuela KV Racing Technology
  20. 06 Hideki Mutoh/ Japan Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing
  21. 22 Justin Wilson/England Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
  22. 67 Sarah Fisher/United States Sarah Fisher Racing
  23. 78 Simona De Silvestro/Switzerland HVM Racing
  24. 18 Milka Duno/Venezuela Dale Coyne Racing
  25. 12 Will Power/Australia Penske Racing
  26. 24 Ana Beatriz/Brazil Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
  27. 32 Mario Moraes/Brazil KV Racing Technology


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