Dixon Wins and Franchitti Takes Title

Dario Franchitti

Franchitti earned his third IZOD IndyCar Series championship. He also won in 2007 and 2009. (Photo: Getty Images)

It was a perfect night for Target Chip Ganassi Racing.

Scott Dixon won the Cafes do Brasil Indy 300, while Dario Franchitti claimed his record-tying third IZOD IndyCar Series crown with an eighth-place finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Dixon earned his 24th career series victory, extending his series record while Franchitti became just the second driver to win three championships, joining Sam Hornish Jr. (2001, 2002, 2006).

"I'm happy for chip, happy for Dario, happy for everybody who did a good job," Dixon said. "I think both cars were great. I was a little bit loose in traffic. We definitely had the speed all night. A huge night for Team Target."

Having already securing the bonus point for winning the PEAK Performance Pole Award, Franchitti needed to lead the most laps and outpace Will Power in the 200-lap event.One was achieved on Lap 118 of 200 when he clinched two points for leading the most laps, and he was on pace to win the race. That would seal the deal no matter where Power finished.

That became moot when Power's No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car brushed the Turn 4 wall on Lap 135 while running fourth, which bent the right-rear wishbone. The crew wheeled the car behind the wall and made the parts change in 5 minutes, 6 seconds. After testing the patch for a few laps under caution, he brought the car into the pit stall and climbed out of the cockpit.

Power, who posted five victories in his first full season with Team Penske, suffered his first DNF of the season in the biggest race of his career.

"It's definitely disappointing," Power said. "I really wanted to win this championship. It was at a point in the race where I felt I really had to push because Dario had led the most laps and was leading the race. I was trying to get around Hunter-Reay, and I got up a little too high and brushed the wall and bent the suspension. The Verizon team had a great season, and we have a lot to be proud of. This has been the best season of my career in motorsport, and I've learned so much. We'll be coming back to win this thing next year."

Franchitti, who entered the race 11 points arrears, earned the title by five points.

Dixon, who started on the front row, held off Andretti Autosport teammates Danica Patrick, who tied her season-high of second, and Tony Kanaan to win his third race of the season.

"After I crossed the line, I said it wasn't a win, but it sure felt like one." Patrick said. "This was a great way to end the season. We have had our high points and low points, and the Go Daddy crew pulled it together for a strong end to the year. Hopefully we can continue to improve the car to be better for next year. That was a hard charge at the end, and Tony (Kanaan) and I hope we put on a good show for the fans tonight."

Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe finished fourth and teammate Helio Castroneves was fifth.

Alex Lloyd of Dale Coyne Racing clinched the Rookie of the Year award.

The 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season starts Sunday, March 27 at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg at St. Petersburg, Fla.

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