Franchitti cruises to win in first Texas race

Sports Network

, Last Updated: 11:05 PM ET

Two-time defending IZOD IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti won Saturday night's first race in the Firestone Twin 275s with a dominating performance at Texas Motor Speedway.

 

Franchitti blew past pole sitter Alex Tagliani on the opening lap and took over from there in the 114-lap event, only relinquishing the lead during a round of green-flag pit stops.

 

"What can I say about that one?" Franchitti said. "From the first lap, I was able to get into the lead, but the biggest problem was just getting through traffic. The car was pretty quick."

 

A crash involving rookie drivers Wade Cunningham and Charlie Kimball setup a 10-lap shootout to the finish. Franchitti's Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, Scott Dixon, challenged him for the lead during the closing laps.

 

Franchitti held off Dixon by 0.05 seconds for his first win at Texas and the 28th in his IndyCar career.

 

"I really didn't try until the last lap; I pulled out a little bit," Dixon said. "Dario's car was pretty quick tonight. He drove away from the field. We did the best we could."

 

Will Power, the current points leader, finished third, followed by Tagliani and Takuma Sato.

 

Franchitti moved to within seven points of Power.

 

Ryan Briscoe, last year's winner at Texas, E.J. Viso, Vitor Meira, Graham Rahal and Helio Castroneves completed the top-10.

 

Danica Patrick finished one lap behind in 16th.

 

The incident involving Cunningham and Kimball forced the only caution in the first race. Both drivers made contact and then backed it into the wall between turns three and four. Cunningham, who made his first IndyCar start, drove the same car that Dan Wheldon used to win the May 29 Indianapolis 500.

 

The starting lineup for the final race at Texas was determined by a random draw, held shortly after the initial event.

 

Tony Kanaan, who finished 11th in the first race, selected the pole position. Cunningham will start on the outside pole in a backup car. Power will roll off third. Franchitti picked the 28th spot in the 30-car field.

 

The twin 275s at Texas is the first doubleheader for the series in its 16-year history. There were 17 doubleheaders -- nine of them on ovals -- under USAC and CART sanction from 1967-81. Atlanta Motor Speedway held the most recent one on June 28, 1981. Rick Mears won both USAC events there.

 

Each race is paying half the points. The driver leading the most laps will receive two bonus points. Tagliani earned a point for winning the pole for the first race on Friday. 


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