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Archive for Monday, April 20, 2009

Franchitti triumphs at Long Beach

Driver wins in only second race back in IndyCar

April 20, 2009

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— Long Beach, Calif. — One thing Dario Franchitti and team owner Chip Ganassi have in common is that both hate to lose.

It wasn’t easy for either one of them to accept the failure last summer when a lack of sponsorship forced Ganassi to shut down Franchitti’s Sprint Cup team in the former IndyCar Series champion’s abortive move to NASCAR.

“For both of us, that was very tough to swallow because we’re used to such success,” Franchitti said Sunday after giving Ganassi his fifth victory in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, but first since 1999.

“Chip lost an awful lot of money last year, I lost my drive, and a bunch of people lost their jobs. So I don’t think it was easy on anybody.”

The win in only his second race back in IndyCar, and only his second race driving an open-wheel car for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, was a big moment for both.

As Franchitti was interviewed after getting out of his car, a beaming Ganassi walked up, hugged his newest driver and said, “Sweet.”

It was all he had to say.

Franchitti said he felt as if the seaside circuit in downtown Long Beach owed him after finishing second to Ganassi drivers Alex Zanardi (1998) and Juan Pablo Montoya (1999) during his days in the now-defunct CART series.

“Yeah, the Target cars do have a great history here,” Franchitti said. “I remember distinctly following that Target (logo) on the rear wing, so it’s nice to be on the other end of that today and get the job done. And it feels great to win again in the IndyCar Series.”

Franchitti dominated this time, beating runner-up Will Power, the pole-winner, by 3.318 seconds — half of the final straightaway.

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