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Peak Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy 300

 

 

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"Going Down to the Wire"
by Esteban Morales

August 29, 2009

Despite all but one race having been won by a Penske or Ganassi Dallara, the rivalry between both dominant teams has led to a dramatic battle for the championship that will not be decided until the final round of the season.  With a potential championship in sight, Ryan Briscoe took pole for the Peak Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway with teammate Helio Castroneves starting on the outside of the front row.  The opening laps of the night race saw Briscoe lead while championship rival Scott Dixon moved from sixth to second by lap 10.  Further behind, Tomas Scheckter and Ed Carpenter impressed as both cracked the top ten with Carpenter up to fourth by lap 25.

On lap 47, Ryan Briscoe dropped out of the lead and entered the pits for his first scheduled stop of the night.  Dixon and the Ganassi camp used a now signature strategy that has worked to their advantage all season long during pit stops.  Dixon and teammate Dario Franchitti were able to stretch their fuel two laps longer than Briscoe and pitted on lap 49.  Though Franchitti emerged behind Briscoe, Dixon was able to leapfrog into the lead by keeping his car on the track longer than Briscoe.  By lap 56, however, Briscoe caught Dixon and both engaged in a thrilling duel for the lead as both of their teammates stacked behind them.  By lap 72, Briscoe cemented himself as the leader of the race while Castroneves struggled to clear Dixon for second.  Within three laps, Castroneves found an opportunity as the leaders cleared lapped cars, and took the lead from his teammate in the fourth turn.  Dixon pursued Castroneves and whittled away his lead to less than a tenth of a second before Hideki Mutoh spun and collided in Turn 3 on lap 91.

During the caution, Castroneves led Dixon, Franchitti, Briscoe, and Carpenter into the pits for the second set of scheduled stops.  Dixon again used pit stops to his advantage and edged ahead of Castroneves.  Despite beating Castroneves out of the pits, the Indy 500 champ challenged for the lead two laps after the restart.  The leaders ran side by side for a few laps before the second yellow flag flew on lap 109 after Marco Andretti scraped the retaining wall in the third turn.  Andretti’s car apparently suffered little or no damage as he continued following a tire change and even raced with the lead pack later in the night.  The leaders used the yellow to enter pit lane while Tony Kanaan and Tomas Scheckter kept their cars on the track.

Following the drop of the green on lap 116, Kanaan led for a handful of laps before Dario Franchitti took the lead with Dixon in tow.  By lap 152, Briscoe moved around Mario Moraes for third while Franchitti continued to lead over Dixon.  On lap 158, Briscoe slid behind Franchitti just as the Scotsman dove into the pits for his final stop.  Briscoe pitted three laps later while Dixon and Castroneves stretched their fuel until lap 165.  Dixon emerged in the lead, nearly two seconds ahead of Briscoe.  Briscoe chased down Dixon moments before Castroneves experienced a suspension failure that sent him into the Turn 4 SAFER Barrier.

Officials restarted the race with ten laps remaining.  Within two laps, Briscoe moved to the outside to challenge for the lead.  Dixon and Briscoe ran the final five laps inches away from each other with Graham Rahal in pursuit.  Rahal, Dixon, and Briscoe briefly ran three-wide before Rahal dropped back, leaving the leaders to battle for the last two laps.  Briscoe ultimately crossed the line .0077 of a second ahead of Dixon with Moraes in third.  Although the victory kept Briscoe 25 points ahead of Dixon and 33 points clear of Franchitti, Briscoe warned, “we’ve got to stay focused.  The Target cars are going to be there in Motegi and Homestead, so we just have to stay focused.” 

Results:

  1. Ryan Briscoe
  2. Scott Dixon
  3. Mario Moraes
  4. Dario Franchitti
  5. Graham Rahal
  6. Ed Carpenter
  7. Oriol Servia
  8. Tomas Scheckter
  9. Raphael Matos
  10. Justin Wilson
  11. Marco Andretti
  12. Danica Patrick
  13. Tony Kanaan
  14. Sarah Fisher
  15. Ryan Hunter-Reay
  16. Mike Conway
  17. E.J. Viso
  18. Robert Doornbos
  19. Jaques Lazier
  20. Helio Castroneves
  21. Milka Duno
  22. Dan Wheldon
  23. Hideki Mutoh