INDYCAR: Franchitti Dominates St. Pete Demolition Derby

A Lap 1, Turn 1 crash found Marco Andretti on his head and five challengers taken out, but that didn’t stop Dario Franchitti from passing Will Power and running away with the race.

Marshall Pruett | SPEED

For those who believe in bad omens, the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg was destined to start with a bang after a plane, attempting to land on the runway adjacent to Turn 14, crashed minutes before the start of the 100-lap race.

The trend continued as five caution flags flew during the two-hour race, quickly souring the optimism many held for the opening round of the new IZOD IndyCar Series season.

By Lap 25, almost half of the field was either parked and packing up or too many laps down to matter. When it was over, two familiar names—2010 series champion Dario Franchitti and 2010 runner-up Will Power—claimed the top 2 spots, but it was the drivers in third and fourth that created the best stories of the day.

Tony Kanaan, just days after joining the KV-Lotus team, capitalized on the Lap 1, Turn 1 crash that took out most of Rows 2, 3 and 4, and slotted in behind the Ganassi and Penske drivers.

HVM Racing’s Simona De Silvestro followed Kanaan’s lead, placing her No. 78 Dallara-Honda behind Kanaan and setting up a battle that would go down to the last lap.

Franchitti, who earned his 27th Indy car win on Sunday, was never threatened during the 94 laps he led on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit. After the race, he revealed that his dominating performance did not require venturing out onto the ragged edge—a place where Power tends to push people.

“The Target car was pretty good all day, both on Reds and Blacks. Once I got a gap [over Power] I was able to kind of control it; not abuse the tires too badly. I wanted to save something for the end just in case there was a last, three laps-to-go restart or something. I was just trying to keep something in reserve.”

 

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