Life is good for Chip Ganassi right now; on Saturday night, one of his drivers won the Cafes do Brasil Indy 300, while his second driver took home his third IndyCar title. Going into the event, neither outcome was a sure bet, as Scott Dixon (the race winner) didn’t appear to have the fastest car on the track. Dario Franchitti trailed Will Power in points heading into Saturday’s final race of the season, and had to fight off repeated challenges from Tony Kanaan to retain the race lead and amass points for most laps led.
In the end, the championship came down to a balanced race car versus one that lacked an ideal set up. Power, the Team Penske driver who’d led the championship going into Saturday’s race, was pushing hard to catch Franchitti when he lost air on the front wing passing lapped traffic. Power’s car went high, and he grazed the wall; it wasn’t a big impact, but it was big enough to end Power’s race with 60 laps remaining, which left him in 25th position. To steal the title, Franchitti needed to finish no worse than tenth position; the Target Chip Ganassi backed off his blistering pace and settled into the ninth spot. It looked like a done deal, until Milka Dunno spun and walled her car with 30 laps remaining; the ensuing accident very nearly collected Franchitti. Thanks to some heads-up driving, Franchitti was able to dive below Dunno’s wrecked car, and avoided any further incidents to take the checkered flag in eighth position. It was good enough for a five point margin of victory over Will Power, who reflected that, “the championship was won over 17 races, not one”.
Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi) won the race, followed by Danica Patrick (Andretti Autosport) in second and Tony Kanaan (Andretti Autosport) in third. Partick and Kanaan had an epic battle for second in the closing laps, with Patrick beating Kanaan across the line by a few thousandths of a second. It was a fitting end to the 2010 season, and there seems to be hope that open wheel racing in America is poised for a comeback.