Like a Fine Wine
October 2, 2010
With Will Power and Dario Franchitti separated by only eleven points before the start of the Cafes do Brasil Indy 300, fans anticipated a championship battle culminating with a wheel to wheel dash to the finish. Instead, Scott Dixon crossed the line seven positions ahead of Franchitti, who earned his second consecutive IndyCar title, while Power looked on from the sidelines.
Though Power started the race with the championship lead, momentum was clearly on Franchitti’s side. Prior to the race Franchitti rattled Power’s typically cool demeanor by eclipsing Power’s time and taking pole along with an additional championship point. At the start of the race it quickly became clear that Franchitti had the car to beat. The Target sponsored Dallaras of Franchitti and Dixon immediately tucked behind one another with Franchitti at the helm while Power scrambled to stay with the leaders.
Power briefly challenged for second before Andretti Autosport’s Tony Kanaan joined Franchitti and Dixon at the front of the pack. The three momentarily pulled away from the field before Penske Racing’s Ryan Briscoe caught the leaders. Instead of joining his teammate at the front of the pack, Power languished in ninth on lap 32. An opportune yellow flag flew on lap 36, allowing Power to make up two positions during pit stops. Following a second caution for a single car incident involving Ana Beatriz on lap 45, Franchitti led the field back to the green on lap 52. Despite having made progress during pit stops, Power again struggled to keep up with the leaders and ran as far back as twelfth before clawing back up to fourth by lap 75.
At the front, Franchitti continued to lead through the second set of pit stops after trading the lead with Briscoe and Dixon. On lap 135 Power dashed his championship hopes by running wide and brushing the retaining wall. “It was a point in the race where I felt I really had to push because Dario had led the most laps and was leading the race. I was trying to get around (Ryan) Hunter-Reay and I got up a little too high and brushed the wall and bent the suspension,” noted Power. Penske Racing attempted to repair Power’s car but ultimately parked the Dallara.
With the championship in his grasp Franchitti backed off substantially, handing the lead to teammate Scott Dixon on lap 152. Six laps later Marco Andretti briefly took the lead before dropping into the pits for his final stop. From then on Dixon easily controlled the race and took the checkered flags ahead of Danica Patrick and Tony Kanaan.
“Good haul, isn't it?" asked Franchitti following the race. "Look back to the start of 2007, I hadn't won a championship. Won a lot of races, but not a championship or Indy 500. Now we find ourselves with two Indy 500s and three championships.” After taking the checkered flags Dixon also pointed to Franchitti’s success. “Dario seems to be getting better with age….Right now you’d have to say that he’s at his peak.”