Franchitti Wins Finale

Dario Franchitti prevailed in an eight-lap shootout with Andretti Green Racing Honda Dallara teammate Tony Kanaan Sunday to close the 2005 IRL IndyCar Series season in the Toyota Indy 400 at California Speedway.

Kanaan attempted a pass on the outside on the final lap. The pair went through the final turn side by side, before Kanaan stuck his nose out front. Franchitti was not to be denied, though, shooting back into the lead to win his second race of the season.

The official margin of victory was .1117 seconds. It marked the fourth consecutive finish of better than three-tenths of a second in the final scheduled IRL race on the two-mile Fontana oval. It was the 11th victory for Andretti Green in 17 2005 events.

"I could see his car coming up there pretty quick," Franchitti said after scoring his fourth IRL victory, and 14th major open-wheel triumph. "We were working very well together the last few laps, trying to pull away from the other guys. It was a good team effort. It was very sweet to win here."

While rain was anticipated throughout the event, it held off until Franchitti began his celebration in Victory Lane.

Vitor Meira finished third in a Rahal Letterman Honda, followed by Scott Sharp in a Fernandez Honda and Sam Hornish Jr. in a Marlboro Team Penske Toyota.

Dan Wheldon, a six-time 2005 winner, concluded his championship season with a sixth place finish.

Tomas Scheckter looked like he would take Chevrolet out a winner in its final race in IRL competition, dominating the opening 125 laps before he stalled in the pits, dropping back to 15th. While he was able to work his way back into contention – helped by a pair of late cautions – he was not a factor in the late-race shootout. He finished seventh, one position ahead of Panther teammate Tomas Enge.

The sprint to the finish was set up when Danica Patrick and Jaques Lazier touched wheels while racing side by side and slammed into the turn four wall with 15 laps remaining while battling for seventh position. Both drivers had led several times during rounds of green flag pit stops.

The race was slowed only four times for cautions. Anthony Foyt's career as an IRL regular came to an abrupt end when he tagged the turn one wall on lap 33. Foyt IV, who was released from a local hospital after being treated for possible knee injuries, is scheduled to finish the season in the NASCAR Busch Series, beginning next weekend, and will join that series full time in 2006.

In an unusual occurance, Bryan Herta slowed when his visor flipped up on lap 50, momentarily leaving him virtually blinded. He was able to continue to a sixth-place finish.

A 240-mile run of green flag racing ended on lap 170 for an incident in the pits involving Kosuke Matsuura.

The 14-race 2006 IndyCar Series is set to get underway with the March 26 running of the Grand Prix of Miami.

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