Franchitti ends year with victory

first_img It perhaps was the final Indy car race at California Speedway. The IRL is not returning to the track in 2006 and it looks like it won’t be a part of the IRL schedule for some time. It was Franchitti’s second win of the year and 11th of the season for Andretti Green Racing. But Franchitti and his wife, Ashley Judd, took time to remember Greg Moore, a close friend of Franchitti’s who died in a race accident at at the speedway in 1999. Both made tear-filled mention of Moore after Franchitti took the checkered flag, after a race that saw rookie Danica Patrick lead for two laps, saw Dan Wheldon out front with a chance to win a record seven races in one season, saw Tomas Scheckter give Chevrolet a shot to leave the IRL on a winning note and saw Kanaan finish second by a fraction of second for the second year in a row. It was a day that could have remembered for so much more than Franchitti’s second win of the year. In a classy move by some drivers, it was remembered as the track that claimed the life of a rising racing star, Greg Moore. And if Patrick won, or Wheldon won, or Scheckter won, or Kanaan won, it still would have been remembered as the track that took Moore’s life. “We all worked well together,” Franchitti said. “You can help people around here. A bittersweet win here because I lost a good friend here six years ago.” Franchitti won the pole and led the first three laps of the race before Scheckter, in a Chevrolet-powered entry for Panther Racing, took over and dominated the first half of the race. He led a race-high 80 laps, but fell off the pace late and finished seventh. This was Chevrolet’s last race in the Indy Racing League. Honda and Toyota are the only engine manufacturers in the IRL for 2006 and Toyota will be leaving after next season. Wheldon, the IRL series champion and driver for Andretti Green Racing, led for six laps just before the midway point of the race to set the series record for most races led in a season with 15. His six wins this year tie him with Sam Hornish Jr., driver for Team Penske, for most wins in an IRL season. Patrick made her way to the front during pit stops, but fell back to 10th when the cars shuffled back on the track. She was taken out of contention near the end of the race when she and Jacques Lazier collided with 15 laps to go. Patrick, the only woman driver in the series, won three poles and became the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500. She was racing in the top 10 when she crashed with Lazier and finished 18th. “I can walk away knowing that I accomplished many of the goals I set before the season,” Patrick said. “But I wanted more at the end. So I have to look at it that way. Now I have year of IRL racing under me and we’ll be ready for a good 2006 season.” Franchitti took the lead on lap 130 of the 200-lap race and held it for all but five of the remaining laps despite two caution periods. On his victory lap, Franchitti spun on the apron in Turn 2 in tribute to Moore. It was the same spot where Moore had his fatal crash. “It was nice to win here today, but it will never bring him back,” Franchitti said. “You know what I mean? And it never will make up for one percent of the loss. It was jut nice to go out and win that last race at this track and fight it out with Tony, who was another one of Greg’s best friends.” Tim Haddock can be reached at (818) 713-3607. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! FONTANA — Dario Franchitti will go down as the last winner of an Indy car race at California Speedway. Or will he? Franchitti held off a surging Tony Kanaan, his Andretti Green Racing teammate, to win Sunday’s Toyota Indy 400 at California Speedway, the final race of the Indy Racing League season. But a suspicious problem with Kanaan’s car on the final turn of the race gave Franchitti the win. Questions followed about how Kanaan could have such an unfortunate loss of power at the finish line. “It was a shame,” said Kanaan, driver of the No. 11 Honda-powered entry. “I don’t know what happened. When I went to upshift, obviously I was upshifting and downshifting, and something hit me. “Thank God my teammate won. If it was going to be somebody else, I was going to be really mad. Probably missed a shift or something like that. That’s the way it is.” Kanaan denied easing up at the end to let Franchitti win the race. Franchitti was appreciative of Kanaan’s misfortune. Both drivers appeared equally happy with the result and Franchitti said there were no team orders for Kanaan to let him win the race. “I wish there were,” said Franchitti, driver of the No. 27 Honda-powered entry. “We certainly talked about what we could do to help each other, but with (Sam) Hornish doing so well, it didn’t come to that. I couldn’t leap-frog him and he couldn’t leap-frog Tony. It was a good team effort.” But the race could have been remembered for so much more. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Weeklast_img read more

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