Franchitti Closes Gap In Chicago

Dario Franchitti used a clever bit of strategy to win the PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway and close the gap on IZOD IndyCar Series championship points leader Will Power.

Franchitti picked up the lead out of the final pit stop on Lap 173 -- relying on a double stint of the Firestone Firehawks (62 laps) - and held off Dan Wheldon by 0.0423 of a second for his third win of the season.

"That last stop was the key to this race," Franchitti said. "We had a lot of faith in the Firestone tires. He said leave the tires on and got us out front. Dan Wheldon, he was just pushing me all the time, just helping me. I was giving him room at the bottom. We were working together very, very well there. So between him and Scott Dixon pushing me around all night. This Team Target is amazing."

Power's No. 12 Verizon Team Penske crew had a fueling equipment issue on the same pit stop and he had to duck onto pit lane with five laps left for a splash. He was running fourth at the time but finished a season-low 16th.

"Unfortunately, we had a problem with our fuel late in the race and we had to come back in and lost position," Power said. "That was just a mistake that we couldn't afford. This obviously makes things tougher for the championship, but we're still in front and we proved how competitive we can be on the ovals. We'll move on and we will work harder next week at Kentucky."

Franchitti closed to 23 points of Power with three oval races left.

Marco Andretti led an Andretti Autosport trio in the top five with a season-best-tying third place.

"It's good to taste (success) again," Andretti said. "It's been tough on the road courses lately so I'm happy to finish on the podium. We lost a couple spots in pit stops, so we have to really analyze what happened. It was costly."

Ryan Hunter-Reay and Tony Kanaan followed. Helio Castroneves finished sixth and Justin Wilson advanced 16 positions to finish seventh.

Franchitti posted his 26th Indy car racing victory, tying Rodger Ward for 11th on the all-time list (USAC, CART, Indy Racing league sanction). Johnny Rutherford (27) is next.

The 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season continues Sept. 4 with the Kentucky Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway.

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