Aussie Will Power pipped England’s Justin Wilson to record back-to-back IndyCar wins in the rain-delayed Honda Grand Prix in Florida. But Bathgate’s Dario Franchitti was left ruing a first-lap spin on the greasy surface which, ultimately, cost him victory.
The 36-year-old Scot, who crashed in Friday’s practice and then started 13th on the grid for today’s race at the 1.8-mile St Petersburg street circuit, started the second of the 100 laps in 24th and last place.
But having taken advantage of the record number of six yellow flag periods and carved his way through the field to third, his progress was again interrupted when his Target Ganassi car suffered a left-rear puncture on lap 55.
The Scot rejoined in 19th, 16s behind the Penske of Power who also won the opening round in Brazil a fortnight ago.
Double IndyCar champ Franchitti though, again forced his way through the field and with 10 laps remaining found himself 10th. But a searing series of laps saw him swiftly dispatch five cars in identical manouevres entering Turn 1.
“It’s a case of what might have been,” Franchitti, who eventually finished fifth, admitted afterwards. “Spinning on the first lap and stopping facing the wrong way wasn’t the best start, but we worked hard all day and in the end I’ve got to be happy with what I got.
“The puncture didn’t help, but there was so much debris on the track as a result of all the accidents I suppose it was inevitable. It was a fun day though, and I really enjoyed those final 10 laps.
“It was important I pushed right to the end. It’s a long, long championship and the points for fifth today could end up being crucial at the end of the year.”
In an incident-packed race, which saw England’s Dan Wheldon suffer the biggest impact when the rear suspension failed on his Panther causing him to collide with the KV of Mario Moraes, Team Penske again showed it is the car to beat.
Only former Formula One racer Wilson denied Penske a top three sweep by securing second for Dreyer & Reinbold. Power, who topped every session over the weekend, held the Sheffield racer off by just 0.8244s.
His Penske team-mates, fellow Aussie Ryan Briscoe and Brazilian Helio Castroneves finished third and fourth respectively, less than five seconds back, with Franchitti rounding off the top five.
The Scot, sixth in the opening race in Sao Paulo, heads into the next round at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama in 12 days tied for second in the title race, 44 points behind Power.