Bathgate’s Dario Franchitti catapulted himself into major contention to win back-to-back IndyCar Championships when he won the latest round in Chicago by just 0.0423 seconds from England’s Dan Wheldon.
Starting from second on the grid at the high speed 1.5-mile Chicagoland oval, the 37-year-old Scot opted not to change tyres at the final pitstop and he emerged ahead of the Penske of his main championship rival, Will Power.
The Aussie’s race was wrecked a few laps later when he tumbled to 16th in the final moments of the race as his car began to run out of fuel. This allowed Wheldon to mount a last-gasp charge in his Panther to overtake Franchitti.
“Wow, that was close,” the Scot, who started the day 51 points behind Power in the championship but who now heads to Kentucky this weekend just 23 adrift, admitted.
“We made a brilliant call at the final pitstop with 23 laps left and the guys were perfect to get me out in front of everybody; but boy was it tight. Dan pushed me right to the finish line, but boy that was a great race.”
Indeed so tight was the race that all 14 cars still on the lead lap were covered by just 1.5s at the flag.
Now Franchitti, who won the Indy500 for a second time earlier this year, is aiming to maintain his momentum into the season’s final three races, starting in Kentucky this weekend.
“The last three races are all on ovals, and they’re all tracks I love,” he continued. “Winning in Chicago has certainly closed the gap big time to Will and boosted my championship hopes.
“Sure there’s a long way to go and Will’s still in the driving seat, but this win was crucial to my season and I know the team and the guys will work even harder now to ensure we win the championship again.”