Briscoe Wins Dramatic Peak Antifreeze Indy 300

Chicagoland Speedway – Championship point’s leader Ryan Briscoe scored his fifth career Indy Car Series win Saturday night in dramatic fashion, passing race leader Scott Dixon on the next to the last lap to win the Peak Antifreeze 300 at the Chicagoland Speedway. With the win, Briscoe retains the point’s lead that he regained at Sonoma last week. The win was also his first after starting on the pole.

“At the end of the day, it’s important to put on a show,” said the Australian who put his Team Penske Dallara 0.0077 of a second ahead of Dixon. “We’ve got to stay focused. The Target cars are going to be there in Motegi (Japan) and Homestead, so we just have to stay focused. We had a couple of mistakes tonight but we were able to come back. We have to avoid those situations.”

“We’ve all seen this movie several times,” said second place finisher Scott Dixon who has been a runner-up five times here at Chicago. “It’s frustrating. I was thinking maybe for a lap or two there that we might be able to do it,” said Dixon who believes that his Target team has some work to do to catch the Penske’s. “As a team, I think we need to redefine what we’re doing on the mile-and -a-halfs and try and speed up. I think aero-wise we’re lacking a bit, whether it’s in body fit and car preparation or whatever it is.”

Dixon, Briscoe and Dario Franchitti did most of the heavy lifting, leading 166 laps over the rest of the field. Franchitti led after half way, but a pit stop gaffe contributed to his fourth place finish. “We did our best to save fuel at first. Tony (Kanaan) was leading I think and Scott and I were able to work together. But shortly after that we came in for a stop and the (air) gun didn’t get pulled out. It got hung under the car and that cost me time,” said the Scot who had a weapon late in the race that he couldn’t use. “I had all these push-to-passes left and couldn’t use them because all I was going to do was run into Scott’s gearbox. We were boxed in.”

With two push-to-passes left himself, Briscoe took advantage and used them when they counted. “I looked down and I had two left. I had been a bit trigger happy for awhile. I thought, I’ll use one here on the restart with nine laps to go. I was able to take advantage there.” But it was aerodynamics at the end that pushed him past Dixon for the win. “I don’t think any button could do anything else there. The aerodynamics took over, and us running side by side just created a wall and I think having the high line gave me an advantage crossing the line.”

So with the sizeable crowd standing on a cool and windy fall-like night, Indy car racing got exciting again. Pack racing was the word of the evening and Briscoe was its master. There was no big NASCAR crash on the last lap and the podium talk among the finishers was friendly and respectful.

“It’s a bit two-fold,” said the winner. “It is important to put on the show. Now the racing is a lot closer, maybe a little scarier. But the cars feel a lot more secure in my opinion.”

Dixon disagreed a bit, noting that, “some of the stuff going on tonight I’m not sure how we didn’t have a big accident. But, as Ryan said, we have to look at the show that we put on, keeping everybody enthusiastic and having exciting races. We’ve definitely got that at the moment.”

? FAZZT Race Team, a newly-formed partnership between Azzi Racing Division, ATG and Rubicon Sports Agency, announced this weekend that they intend to compete in the Indy Car Series full time in 2010 with Canadian Alex Tagliani as their driver. Testing is planned over the winter with equipment purchased from the assets of Roth Racing. The team will be headquarted in Indianapolis as well as having offices and an R&D division in Montreal. Rob Edwards, who formerly worked with Tagliani at Walker Racing, will serve as the team’s general manager and technical director. No sponsor announcement was made at this time.
? While Indy Car driver Sarah Fisher was visiting recently with the employees of one of her sponsors, Milwaukee-based Direct Supply company, principals of Historic Mile LLC, Tony Machi and Jim Beaudoin, were seen huddling with Direct Supply Chairman and CEO Bob Hillis. Historic Milwaukee LLC is attempting to become the promoters at the Milwaukee Mile pending proof of financial ability and commitments for future race dates from NASCAR and/or the IRL. Beaudoin and Machi were also in attendance at this weekend’s Chicagoland IRL/NASCAR races, reportedly discussing Milwaukee Mile issues with those sanctioning bodies. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported recently that the would-be promotion group recently lost their former partner Steve Jones, who was the Mile’s General Manager under other recent promotional groups. Jones was described in the article as having “stepped back” from the group.
? Though the IRL has said repeatedly that the Milwaukee Mile is off the 2010 Indy Car schedule, many here at Chicagoland think that an accommodation could be made should Historic Mile LLC get State Fair Board approval to be the future promoters. One date being mentioned is the June 13th weekend that Texas gave up to take Milwaukee’s week-after-Indy date. This could be a problem for the Mile however, since that date would fall just two weeks from the track’s traditional NASCAR weekend at the end of June, should NASCAR decide to grant the track a place on their schedule.
? Andretti Green Racing continues to struggle given driver comments after qualifying: Marco Andretti-“Our average speed wasn’t all that impressive.” Danica Patrick- “I really thought we had a faster car than the results showed. I don’t really know. We didn’t make a whole lot of adjustments on the car from this morning and we were quicker then than we are now.” Marco scraped the turn two wall at mid-race, but stayed at the end of the lead lap and finished
? Helio Castroneves hit hard into the fourth turn wall with 15 laps remaining. The right front suspension seemed to fail sending him into the barrier in front of a pack of cars that had to slow quickly to avoid Castroneves’ wounded machine as they came off of the fourth turn. The incident dropped Castroneves from series’ title contention.
? Indy Car finds themselves in the middle of a media battle between Direct TV and the Versus network that carries the Indy Car Series events. After August 31, the satellite provider is saying that they will drop Versus, thus eliminating many viewers from seeing the final events on the schedule. The IRL says that they are caught in between and really have no leverage in the matter.

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