IndyCar's Dario Franchitti, Champion Unleashed

Sandra MacWattersCorrespondent IOctober 3, 2010

HOMESTEAD, FL - OCTOBER 01:  Team owner Chip Ganassi talks with Dario Franchitti of Scotland, driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara Honda after winning the pole position during qualifying for the IZOD IndyCar Series Cafes do Brasil Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on October 1, 2010 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

For the fifth consecutive year, the battle for the Izod IndyCar championship was decided at the final race with Dario Franchitti attempting to overcome the 11-point deficit against Will Power.  It would also be a battle of Ganassi Racing and Penske Racing.

Franchitti in his No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi machine captured the pole for the Cafes do Brasil Indy 300 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. 

Will Power in his No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car started third on the grid.  Power wasn't sure he would race again after last year's horrific crash that injured him badly.  Roger Penske promised him sponsorship and a full-time ride if he made a full recovery.

Power recovered and took his Penske ride to five road-course wins leading up to the season finale at Homestead.

For Franchitti, a win and series title would solidify his place in the record books of IndyCar racing.

Franchitti, the 37-year-old Italian born Scot, had three wins this season, one being his second winning of the Indy 500. 

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He has two series Championship titles from 2007 and 2009.  A third title would tie him with Sam Hornish as the only driver with three titles since the formation of the Indy Racing League.

Prior to the race, Chip Ganassi said of his driver, "He's among the all-time greats now."

Tony Kanaan, good friend of Franchitti, served as a good backstop remaining consistently behind the Ganassi driver of the No. 10 during much of the race.

Will Power had dropped back to ninth position on lap 34.  He radioed that he was loose in one and two with a push in three and four as a caution came out on lap 36.

Penske driver, Ryan Briscoe, took the roll of designated spoiler with nothing to lose as he battled Franchitti and took the lead several times during the first third of the race.

Franchitti secured the two points for leading the most laps upon completion of lap 117,

Will Power brushed the wall on lap 135 bringing out a caution.  He was called to the pits for right rear suspension damage. 

Power's car was then taken behind the wall for repairs. He later returned to the track, but was not a serious contender.

Franchitti was told he needed to maintain 10th place or better to secure the title with Power's difficulties, so he drifted back to ninth.

With 25 laps to go, Milka Duno crashed and brought out a caution that would enable all cars to finish with adequate fuel on board.  The crash caused Franchitti to take evasive action.

Franchitti did what he had to do to win the championship and stayed out of the fray in the front of the field, choosing to hopefully remain out of harm's way.  As the laps ran out, he was running in eighth position.  He won the title by five points.

Ganassi driver Scott Dixon took the win, followed by Danica Patrick and Tony Kanaan.

After the race, Franchitti said, "It was a little too action-packed."  He went on to say it was better to be conservative at the end of the race.

For Target Chip Ganassi Racing, it was his eighth Championship.  Though Franchitti failed to win, he is securing a place in the record books.  A bonus check of $1 million goes along with Franchitti's IndyCar Championship title.

The Indy Racing League has ousted Homestead-Miami Speedway from its 2011 schedule.