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.
IndyCar Series Standings (after 15 of 17 races):
- Ryan Briscoe/550 points (3 wins)
- Dario Franchitti/525 (4 wins)
- Scott Dixon/517 (4 wins)
- Helio Castroneves/383 (2 wins)
- Danica Patrick/ 353
- Marco Andretti/342
- Tony Kanaan 335
- Graham Rahal 331
- Dan Wheldon 318
- Justin Wilson 316 (1 win)
- Hideki Mutoh 309
- Ed Carpenter 286
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.”
Honda Racing Report Saturday, August 29, 2009
Event: PEAK Indy 300
Circuit: Chicagoland Speedway (1.5-mile oval) Joliet, Ill.
2008 Winner: Helio Castroneves (Team Penske Honda) 150.649 mph average
Weather: Partly cloudy, cool, 61 degrees F