After back-to-back DNFs to start the year, securing a good finish was the mission for pole sitter Dario Franchitti in his 250th career start this afternoon. Consider the mission accomplished, as Franchitti battled to a fourth-place result at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
The Scotsman’s attempt to turn his pole position into a win was partly stymied by problems on pit road. He lost a couple of positions on a lengthy first stop at Lap 29, and later lost third place and a podium finish to Justin Wilson on the final restart of the day while trying to avoid the lapped car of Charlie Kimball, who went into the Turn 1 tire barrier just moments after the green flag came back out.
“We dropped the car with three tires on the wagon I think, so that cost us a few good spots,” said Franchitti. “And then, I lost one here to Justin trying to avoid Charlie, who was a lap down and going for glory. At the end there, [Justin and I] were fairly evenly matched. It’s just that we chose to save fuel that last bit.
“With the loss of track position, I wasn’t good enough to catch Justin. But, a good result for the Target team after those first couple of DNFs.”
Franchitti collected his fifth Top-5 finish in 11 career starts at Long Beach, but more importantly, he gave his No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing team some important momentum to build off of as they head for Brazil in two weeks’ time.