Franchitti & Power celebrate a win apiece in Texas

The twin race format threw up some surprises today at the Firestone Twin 275’s at Texas Motor Speedway, as the two leading championship contenders, Will Power and Dario Franchitti won a race each in two action-packed 114-lap events.

Our resident IndyCar correspondent Matt Lennon reviews the action and talking points from both races…

Thirty drivers and their respective teams, crews and cars gathered under the hot Texan summer sun, and Alex Tagliani repeated his pole day heroics from Indianapolis, lining up on pole for Race 1, with Franchitti alongside on the front row. Archrival Will Power was directly behind in third. Tagliani had a new team-mate at Sam Schmidt Motorsports, with New Zealand debutant Wade Cunningham making his debut in the IZOD IndyCar Series, and making an immediate impact by qualifying an excellent eighth for his first race.

One man not in a car was Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon. With a hectic two weeks of publicity following his victory, Wheldon was in Texas and did participate in the race – in the Versus TV commentary box – alongside Bob Jenkins and Jon Beekhuis.

Race 1

While the first attempt at starting Race 1 was waved off following Tagliani’s over- eager right foot hitting the accelerator a little too early, once the green flag flew, Franchitti wasted no time in powering past Tagliani early on Lap 1, and for the first 30 laps or so, diced aggressively with the popular Canadian for the lead. Will Power had his hands There was plenty of close racing on the 1,5-mile oval full with Takuma Sato and Tony Kanaan, both running well and near the front.

The leaders made their first stops around Lap 50, with the status quo being maintained at the front. By Lap 85 of 114, Tagliani had dropped to 4th, and Scott Dixon was chasing team-mate Franchitti while keeping Power at bay behind him.

The first caution period of the day came on Lap 95 as Charlie Kimball and Wade Cunningham came to grief on the exit of Turn 4. Kimball found himself unable to contain some serious understeer, sending him too high and onto the marbles. Unfortunately, between himself and the wall was Cunningham, who had nowhere to go. Both drivers were ok and once the pits opened, the majority of the field opted for a quick splash of fuel to ensure they made it to the end. The race restarted on Lap 104, and Franchitti held on to take the victory from Dixon, Power, Tagliani and Sato.

Once the cars had returned to their pit stalls, perhaps the highlight of the night came next as the blind draw designed to decide the grid for Race 2 took place. Prior to the weekend, Chip Ganassi and Dario Franchitti had been quite outspoken against the concept of the random draw, as it could possible play a big part in giving a major advantage to a championship rival.

As the drivers took to the podium to draw their grid slot in reverse order to how they finished Race 1, it was Tony Kanaan who lucked out, selecting pole position, with Wade Cunningham’s night getting better by drawing second on the grid. Justin Wilson discovered the hard way his luck was gone, selecting 30th and last place for his start. With three grid slots remaining, Will Power had 3rd, 18th and 28th available to select, and was rewarded with the highest remaining slot. This left Dixon and Franchitti drawing 18th and 28th for themselves, ensuring Race 2 would be an entertaining affair as both Ganassi cars were buried deep within the field.

————————————————————————————————————-

2011 Firestone Twin 275s Race 1 Final Standings (114 laps):

Driver Team Laps Result
1. Dario Franchitti GBR Chip Ganassi 114 54:47.2787
2. Scott Dixon NZL Chip Ganassi 114 + 0.0527
3. Will Power AUS Team Penske 114 + 0.1794
4. Alex Tagliani CDN Sam Schmidt Motorsports 114 + 0.4109
5. Takuma Sato JPN KV Racing Technology Lotus 114 + 1.4174
6. Ryan Briscoe AUS Team Penske 114 + 1.4337
7. EJ Viso VEN KV Racing Technology Lotus 114 + 2.1127
8. Vitor Meira BRZ AJ Foyt Enterprises 114 + 2.5355
9. Graham Rahal USA Chip Ganassi 114 + 2.8146
10. Hélio Castroneves BRZ Team Penske 114 + 4.3388
11. Tony Kanaan BRZ KV Racing Technology Lotus 114 + 4.7842
12. Paul Tracy CDN Dragon Racing 114 + 7.0114
13. Marco Andretti USA Andretti Autosport 113 1 lap behind
14. Alex Lloyd GBR Dale Coyne Racing 113 1 lap behind
15. Jay Howard GBR Rahal / Schmidt 113 1 lap behind
16. Danica Patrick USA Andretti Autosport 113 1 lap behind
17. Justin Wilson GBR Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 113 1 lap behind
18. Ed Carpenter USA Sarah Fisher Racing 113 1 lap behind
19. Ryan Hunter-Reay USA Andretti Autosport 113 1 lap behind
20. James Hinchcliffe CDN Newman/Haas Racing 113 1 lap behind
21. Oriol Servià ESP Newman/Haas Racing 112 2 laps behind
22. Ana Beatriz BRZ Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 112 2 laps behind
23. JR Hildebrand USA Panther Racing 112 2 laps behind
24. Mike Conway GBR Andretti Autosport 112 2 laps behind
25. James Jakes GBR Dale Coyne Racing 112 2 laps behind
26. Simona de Silvestro SUI HVM Racing 111 3 laps behind
27. Davey Hamilton USA Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 109 5 laps behind
28. Sebastian Saavedra COL Conquest Racing 97 17 laps behind
           
  NOT CLASSIFIED        
  Wade Cunningham NZL Sam Schmidt Motorsports 92 Contact
  Charlie Kimball USA Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi 91 Contact

————————————————————————————————————-

Race 2

From the green, Kanaan and Cunningham led away, with the latter getting swamped early by the more experienced Power, Helio Castroneves and Ryan Hunter-Reay. Kanaan put up a gallant fight to hold off Power, but by Lap 41 has his lead usurped by the Penske pilot. Starting from 28th, Dario Franchitti had not made quite the level of progress many would have thought, as by the same time as his main championship rival was taking the lead, the defending series champion had only climbed ten spots to 18th.

After the first pit stops around Lap 55, the three Penske drivers of Power, Castroneves and Briscoe were leading the way, with Kanaan in fourth and the hard-charging Scott Dixon in fifth.

With no incidents in Race 2 to cause a caution period, the closest anybody came to causing one was a heart-in-mouth moment when Will Power dove up the inside of Graham Rahal in the pit lane entry at full speed, as the young Rahal had run out of fuel and was coasting back to the pits off-line. With all the leaders making late pit stops, Power held strong through the 114-lap distance to take his first career oval-course Power takes the Race 2 chequered flag victory. The defending road-course champion couldn’t hide his delight at having shaken the oval “monkey” from his back, believing he now had the experience needed to win on any type of circuit and be a more potent threat for the championship. Dario eventually finished in seventh position, but was never in a position to challenge Power, mostly due to the random lottery dictating his poor starting position.

After the race, pit lane interviewer Kevin Lee caught up with Franchitti and Dixon, who made no secret of their disdain for the lottery-based grid. With Power taking the win, maximising his points advantage and increasing his lead in the championship to 21 points, it will be interesting if, come the October season finale in Las Vegas, Franchitti or Dixon end up losing the title by the same number of points that a random draw cost them in Texas.

————————————————————————————————————-

2011 Firestone Twin 275s Race 2 Final Standings (114 laps):

Driver Team Laps Result
1. Will Power AUS Team Penske 114 48:08.9739
2. Scott Dixon NZL Chip Ganassi 114 + 0.946
3. Ryan Briscoe AUS Team Penske 114 + 4.652
4. Hélio Castroneves BRZ Team Penske 114 + 9.573
5. Tony Kanaan BRZ KV Racing Technology Lotus 114 + 14.372
6. Marco Andretti USA Andretti Autosport 114 + 16.948
7. Dario Franchitti GBR Chip Ganassi 114 + 18.437
8. Danica Patrick USA Andretti Autosport 114 + 18.555
9. Ryan Hunter-Reay USA Andretti Autosport 114 + 21.797
10. EJ Viso VEN KV Racing Technology Lotus 114 + 24.092
11. Vitor Meira BRZ AJ Foyt Enterprises 114 + 24.639
12. Takuma Sato JPN KV Racing Technology Lotus 113 1 lap behind
13. Paul Tracy CDN Dragon Racing 113 1 lap behind
14. Alex Tagliani CDN Sam Schmidt Motorsports 113 1 lap behind
15. Oriol Servià ESP Newman/Haas Racing 113 1 lap behind
16. Ed Carpenter USA Sarah Fisher Racing 113 1 lap behind
17. Mike Conway GBR Andretti Autosport 113 1 lap behind
18. JR Hildebrand USA Panther Racing 113 1 lap behind
19. James Hinchcliffe CDN Newman/Haas Racing 113 1 lap behind
20. Jay Howard GBR Rahal / Schmidt 113 1 lap behind
21. Justin Wilson GBR Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 113 1 lap behind
22. Ana Beatriz BRZ Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 113 1 lap behind
23. Charlie Kimball USA Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi 112 2 laps behind
24. Alex Lloyd GBR Dale Coyne Racing 112 2 laps behind
25. Davey Hamilton USA Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 112 2 laps behind
26. Wade Cunningham NZL Sam Schmidt Motorsports 112 2 laps behind
27. Simona de Silvestro SUI HVM Racing 111 3 laps behind
28. James Jakes GBR Dale Coyne Racing 111 3 laps behind
29. Sebastian Saavedra COL Conquest Racing 111 3 laps behind
30. Graham Rahal USA Chip Ganassi 104 10 laps behind

[Images via IndyCars]

The following two tabs change content below.

Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.

Latest posts by Richard Bailey (see all)

Share