IndyCar: Wild race puts Franchitti back in front

By Andy Darley

CalendarMonday, September 3rd, 2007

 
 

Dario Franchitti regained the IndyCar championship lead after a wild Detroit Grand Prix that saw his rift with team boss Michael Andretti deepen with a disagreement over a last-lap crash.

Franchitti’s Andretti Green Racing team-mates Tony Kanaan and Danica Patrick took first and second, but his sixth place was just enough to move back ahead of Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon when combined with the extra points he got for leading the most laps. Brits Dan Wheldon and Darren Manning took third and fourth.

On the final lap second-placed Buddy Rice ran out of fuel and was clipped by Dixon following him. The two cars spun, collecting Franchitti. The Scot lost fourth place but was able to continue to sixth.

Afterwards, Andretti Green Racing boss Michael Andretti accused Dixon of deliberately collecting Franchitti’s car in the accident – but the Scot, who clashed with his boss after an incident in the previous race involving Andretti’s son Marco, publically disagreed.

He said: “I don’t think Scott would have (obstructed the track) intentionally. I have utmost respect for Scott Dixon and for his team. He has raced me clean all year and I’ve raced him clean. My owner thinks differently though.”

Dixon said: “I wasn’t trying to pass Buddy. I was in a good position and would not have risked it. He ran out of fuel. I sideswiped Buddy but tried to keep going. I was just trying to stay ahead of Franchitti for valuable points. I would never have done anything intentional to jeopardise our race.”

A gloomy Rice said he had apologised to everybody concerned: “Those two were battling it out and to take them out with a lap to go or get involved in an accident because I ran out of fuel is just disappointing for everybody involved.

“I had no place to go really. It’s very difficult to get out of the way. I went down and apologised to Dario, Mike Hull and Mr. Ganassi. I just feel bad. They were cool and they understand.

“It wasn’t like I was trying to crash. I knew they were behind me, and I was trying to just keep pace. I was running with the leader; to have that happen just sucks.”

Racewinner Kanaan concluded: “It was a wild race. I came around and saw Buddy in the tyres on one end, and Dario and Scott run together on the other. It was crazy behind me, so I guess it was a good time to be out front.”

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