Championship Weekend At Homestead-Miami Speedway

Homestead, FL (October 10, 2009) – Homestead-Miami Speedway for the first time was going to crown a champion in both the Rolex Grand-Am and IndyCar Series.’ This has been quite the year for the Target Chip Ganassi Racing Team and venerable Team Penske organization. This was fitting that these two strong powerhouse teams were going to go down to the last race.

I thought Chip had the advantage going into the finale because he had two cars (Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti) going for the Championship while Team Penske had Ryan Briscoe. Both teams are good at the mile and half tracks. I spoke with all three drivers and I have never seen three drivers as cool and laid back as these fellas. I thought they were on vacation in South Beach and not here to decided the Championship. They were all joking around with each other and I never seen two teammates like Scott and Dario get along. They were the same way I saw them all the back in spring training earlier this year, I really think that was the key to Ganassi winning. This year these guys just got along and worked well together and just jelled with their respected crew members. This year I saw a different Dario, he was laid back and just clicked with team after his ill-fated visit to NASCAR. Franchitti told me, “I really don’t know what I was thinking when I went there. I thought I would try something different and I thought it was safer, but this is where I belong and I was thrilled that Chip gave me a second chance.”

The race played into Ganassi hands because they split the strategies, something that Penske is the master of. Who would have thought the race would go green the whole race? It was unbelievable and it was very frustrating for Dario to keep saving fuel and he was letting them get away, but that’s what won the race and the championship. Briscoe’s late fuel stop must have been agonizing for him and the Team Penske crew. The fastest car doesn’t always win.

The Rolex Grand-Am series also was here to crown a champion, with the Target Chip Ganassi Team wanting to take both trophies home. The Grand-Am race held before the IndyCar event was another close race and Championship fight. There were three teams in the mix and you could not ask for a better race. It has been a rough year for respected Brumos Team after winning the first race Grand-Am at Daytona, the sanctioning body made competition adjustments to all the Porsche Daytona prototype teams and really they have not been a factor. One wonders if that had something to do with Team Penske coming into the series and afraid that an ALMS team to come into the series and walk away. With the Team Penske organization coming into a series and not winning a race must had been frustrating and a bit surprising. It’s been a rough year for their drivers Timo Bernard and Romain Dumas.

The Brumos team got some breaks and when they needed to be fast Joao Barbosa stepped up and delivered the speed they needed. He was happy getting his first win with the Brumos team. But I think the whole story of the weekend for Brumos was Hurley Haywood getting the call on Thursday when he was at Road America doing rides with new Porsche Panamerica with David Donohue something that was set before the schedule change for the race. Thursday morning the team said that J.C. France had the flu but as soon as the story was unfolding it was all over the internet J.C. France was arrested for racing his Lamborghini in Daytona early Thursday morning and also getting a DUI and having cocaine with him. I can tell you after taking to a couple of drivers on Friday they don’t want him back and now Grand-Am has suspended him. Hurley was a little off but he was right up to speed in the race and when he handed the car off to Barbosa they were in the mix. You could tell just talking with Hurley on Friday that he loved be back in seat of a racecar and this win was really a meaningful one. One wonders could this have been the last one?

Congratulations to the GAINSCO Stallings team for their second Daytona Prototype championship with drivers Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney. The duo in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley finished six points ahead (337-331) of Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas, who finished second in the No. 01 TELMEX Lexus Riley of Target Chip Ganassi Racing.

Share Button