• Aug 29, 2010

2010 Peak Antifreeze and Motor Oil Indy 300 from Chicagoland Speedway – Click above for high-res image gallery

It might seem that the 2010 IndyCar championship is a foregone conclusion. After all, Team Penske's Will Power has a sizable lead in the standings and there are just four races left to run. Ah, but those four are all on ovals, and Will has never claimed the top step of the podium at an oval track. Plus, right behind Power in the race for the overall IZOD IndyCar Championship are Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon – two drivers who have considerably better luck than Power when everybody only has to turn left.

In fact, Dixon leads Franchitti in the new-for-2010 A.J. Foyt Oval Champion standings. Furthermore, Dixon basically owns this week's venue – Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois – despite never actually winning there. That might seem like a contradiction, but Scott has been the bridesmaid on five separate occasions at Chicagoland.

IndyCar's return to the ovals also means bigger fields, with 29 drivers lined up to run for the checkers on Saturday night. Among those 29 were a record five female drivers – Ana Beatriz, Milka Duno, Sarah Fisher, Danica Patrick and Simona de Silvestro. Would Dixon finally take the win in Chicago? Would Dario claim victory and close the gap on Power? Would one of the ladies break through and be the first across the stripe? Follow the jump to see how the 2010 Peak Antifreeze and Motor Oil Indy 300 from Chicagoland Speedway played out.

[Images: Jonathan Ferrey, Streeter Lecka/Getty Images | Skip Stewart, Nam Y. Huh, Warren Wimmer/AP]

Of the ten races run by the IRL in Chicago, seven have seen the top two (or three in some cases) finishers cross the line less than two-tenths of a second apart. In fact, Chicagoland holds claim to five of the top ten closest finishes in IndyCar history. Ovals can always produce exciting racing like that, and even the qualifying can be exhilarating. A new two-lap qualifying average went into effect with this round, so a real shootout for the pole ensued. When the dust settled, the spread from first to last place was less than a second a lap.

Ryan Briscoe ended up on top, followed by Dario Franchitti in second. The surprise in qualifying centered around the third position. It wasn't Scott Dixon (who would start from 15th) – it was Will Power. Would he finally break his oval jinx? To be fair, Power has always shown good qualifying speed on ovals; he's just had a lot of bad luck in the actual races. Behind Power was teammate Helio Castroneves. Qualifying isn't nearly as important on ovals as it is on road or street courses, however, and Dixon was confident that he'd be in contention on race day.

2010 Peak Antifreeze and Motor Oil Indy 3002010 Peak Antifreeze and Motor Oil Indy 300
2010 Peak Antifreeze and Motor Oil Indy 3002010 Peak Antifreeze and Motor Oil Indy 300

At the start, 29 cars were ran nose-to-tail and side-by-side-by-side at 210+ miles per hour. We sometimes lose sight of what makes ovals so popular with fans, but this race was a vivid reminder. The circle tracks create a lot of passing opportunities and fans can see nearly every second of racing from whatever seat they're in. It makes for a great show.

Cars ran three abreast and occasionally even four wide, so it wasn't surprising when a few came together on lap 4, bringing out the race's first yellow. Tomas Scheckter and Rafael Matos got the worst of it, but Alex Lloyd and Vitor Meira also had damage that forced them to pit for repairs. Replays showed that it was actually Will Power who indirectly caused the accident when he got sideways coming out of the turn. As drivers checked up behind him, a few weren't able to avoid each other.

2010 Peak Antifreeze and Motor Oil Indy 300

At the restart on Lap 16, Marco Andretti got a good run and started challenging Briscoe for the lead. A lap or two later he was past him and into first. A few spots back in sixth was Tony Kanaan, who had advanced quite a bit from his 13th place starting position. It was super-tight racing as the top ten looked like a swarm of bees – running two and three wide with less than a second separating first from tenth.

The yellow flag came out again on Lap 78 as Ana Beatriz brushed the wall. The field dove into the pits and the ensuing melee as everyone exited saw teammates E.J. Viso and Takuma Sato collide. Sato was perhaps luckier as the impact with Viso spun him around and pointed him back towards his stall. Sadly, the car couldn't get back on track and Sato had his 8th DNF of the year. Hideki Mutoh ran into some hard luck as well. He lost a wheel and was forced to take a full lap before returning to the pits.

Just as the field was set to go back to green, Alex Tagliani was punted from behind by Mutoh, who was hit by Vitor Meira as they accelerated in anticipation of the restart. On Lap 91, green-flag racing finally resumed with Briscoe in front followed by Andretti and Franchitti, who hounded Sarah Fisher for second place. Fisher, driving in honor of a crew member who was retiring after this race to battle Lou Gehrig's Disease, clung to the position until she had to make her second pit stop around Lap 130.

2010 Peak Antifreeze and Motor Oil Indy 300

The racing following the next round of stops was probably the best IndyCar's seen all year. Will Power found himself between Ryan Briscoe on the low side and Marco Andretti up high in the front row. Behind them, another row of cars going three wide meant the front six were inches apart at 219 mph. Overhead shots make this look easy, but in-car footage shows how difficult it really is. Running in a pack at 210+ mph, the track surface's dips and ridges, coupled with the shifting airflow over the vehicles, makes the cars dance around. That's not very comforting when you're running a few inches from your competitors.

Power looked to be a man on a mission during the closing laps. He finally drew ahead of his opponents, and just as the field began to string out, Alex Lloyd gracefully slid through the infield at a very rapid clip. Fortunately, there was no contact, but Lloyd's excursion brought out another yellow and started the final round of stops.

Back to racing with 23 laps to go, Dario Franchitti was up front - the eleventh different leader on Saturday. That broke the IndyCar record for lead changes in a single race. The laps ticked off, with Franchitti leading Dan Wheldon, Will Power, Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti. The top 13 cars were within a second of each other as everyone positioned themselves for the final laps. At times, cars ran four-wide. The slightest bobble by anyone dropped them back several spots, while someone with any extra momentum could pass two or three cars at a time. It was wild, close racing with drivers banging wheels and getting very close to the wall.

With five laps to go, bad luck returned for Will Power – a problem with the refueling rig left his tank completely dry. He slowed and pulled into the pits as Franchitti charged ahead, the points gap closing before everyone's eyes. Dario took the checkered flag while Dan Wheldon and Marco Andreti made it close for second and third. By taking first place, Franchitti moves to within 23 points of Championship leader Will Power as the IndyCar series moves on to the next oval in Kentucky on September 4.

2010 Peak Antifreeze and Motor Oil Indy 300

Join us then, and don't forget to check out the full results and standings below.

QP Car Driver Sponsor Team Time Speed
1 6 Ryan Briscoe Team Penske Team Penske 50.5857 216.346
2 10 Dario Franchitti Target Chip Ganassi Racing Target Chip Ganassi Racing 50.7624 215.593
3 12 Will Power Verizon Team Penske Verizon Team Penske 50.7792 215.521
4 3 Helio Castroneves Team Penske Team Penske 50.7702 215.475
5 26 Marco Andretti Team Venom Energy Andretti Autosport 50.8265 215.321
6 02 Graham Rahal NHR/QuickTrim Newman/Haas Racing 50.8281 215.314
7 4 Dan Wheldon National Guard Panther Racing Panther Racing 50.8789 215.099
8 06 Hideki Mutoh Formula Dream/Panasonic Newman/Haas Racing 50.8892 215.055
9 37 Ryan Hunter-Reay Ethanol USA Team IZOD Andretti Autosport 50.9074 214.979
10 5 Takuma Sato (R) Lotus-KV Racing Technology KV Racing Technology 50.9154 214.945
11 20 Ed Carpenter Panther/Vision/Fuzzy's Vodka Panther Racing 50.9423 214.831
12 7 Danica Patrick Team GoDaddy.com Andretti Autosport 50.9616 214.750
13 11 Tony Kanaan Team 7-Eleven/Planters Andretti Autosport 50.9896 214.632
14 19 Alex Lloyd (R) Boy Scouts of America Dale Coyne Racing 51.0285 214.468
15 9 Scott Dixon Target Chip Ganassi Racing Target Chip Ganassi Racing 51.0761 214.269
16 8 E.J. Viso PDVSA KVRT KV Racing Technology 51.0901 214.210
17 36 Tomas Scheckter Conquest Racing Conquest Racing 51.1179 214.093
18 2 Raphael Matos HP de Ferran Dragon de Ferran Dragon Racing 51.1462 213.975
19 77 Alex Tagliani FAZZT Race Team FAZZT Race Team 51.1617 213.910
20 34 Bertrand Baguette (R) Conquest Racing RACB Conquest Racing 51.2162 213.682
21 32 Mario Moraes KV Racing Technology KV Racing Technology 51.2700 213.458
22 24 Ana Beatriz Dad's Root Beer/DRR Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 51.2770 213.429
23 22 Justin Wilson Team Z-Line Designs/DRR Luczo Dragon/de Ferran Mtrsprts 51.2875 213.385
24 14 Vitor Meira ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing A.J. Foyt Enterprises 51.3547 213.106
25 67 Sarah Fisher Dollar General/Sarah Fisher Racing Sarah Fisher Racing 51.3573 213.095
26 18 Milka Duno CITGO Dale Coyne Racing 51.4342 212.777
27 78 Simona de Silvestro (R) Team Stargate Worlds/HVM HVM Racing 51.4625 212.660
28 21 Davey Hamilton HP de Ferran Dragon de Ferran Dragon Racing 51.5051 212.484
29 66 Jay Howard (R) Service Central/Sarah Fisher Racing Sarah Fisher Racing 51.3573 212.097

Finishing Order:
FP Car Driver Team Laps Time Status Points
1 10 Dario Franchitti Target Chip Ganassi Racing 200 01:47:49.5783 Running 50
2 4 Dan Wheldon Panther Racing 200 01:47:49.6206 Running 40
3 26 Marco Andretti Andretti Autosport 200 01:47:49.6834 Running 35
4 37 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport 200 01:47:49.7414 Running 32
5 11 Tony Kanaan Andretti Autosport 200 01:47:49.9191 Running 30
6 3 Helio Castroneves Team Penske 200 01:47:50.0651 Running 28
7 22 Justin Wilson Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 200 01:47:50.1736 Running 26
8 9 Scott Dixon Target Chip Ganassi Racing 200 01:47:50.4920 Running 24
9 14 Vitor Meira A.J. Foyt Enterprises 200 01:47:50.5371 Running 22
10 02 Graham Rahal Newman/Haas Racing 200 01:47:50.5624 Running 20
11 6 Ryan Briscoe Team Penske 200 01:47:50.5968 Running 22
12 34 Bertrand Baguette Conquest Racing 200 01:47:50.6616 Running 18
13 06 Hideki Mutoh Newman/Haas Racing 200 01:47:50.8825 Running 17
14 7 Danica Patrick Andretti Autosport 200 01:47:51.1441 Running 16
15 67 Sarah Fisher Sarah Fisher Racing 199 01:47:51.6270 Running 15
16 12 Will Power Team Penske 199 01:47:58.1955 Running 14
17 32 Mario Moraes KV Racing Technology 199 01:48:01.2063 Running 13
18 21 Davey Hamilton de Ferran Dragon Racing 199 01:48:01.3746 Running 12
19 18 Milka Duno Dale Coyne Racing 197 01:47:51.7735 Running 12
20 20 Ed Carpenter Panther Racing 179 01:39:43.6087 Mechanical 12
21 66 Jay Howard (R) Sarah Fisher Racing 162 01:47:51.4765 Mechanical 12
22 19 Alex Lloyd Dale Coyne Racing 161 01:39:19.4910 Running 12
23 78 Simona De Silvestro Team Stargate Worlds/HVM 150 01:25:03.1938 Mechanical 12
24 24 Ana Beatriz Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 88 01:34:52.8506 Mechanical 12
25 77 Alex Tagliani FAZZT Race Team 85 00:50:05.2152 Contact 10
26 5 Takuma Sato KV Racing Technology 80 00:44:19.7999 Contact 10
27 8 E.J. Viso KV Racing Technology 80 00:44:20.5096 Contact 10
28 36 Tomas Scheckter Conquest Racing 4 00:01:45.1407 Contact 10
29 2 Raphael Matos de Ferran Dragon Racing 4 00:01:45.4504 Contact 10

Driver's Standings:
CP Driver Champ Lead Oval Lead Road Lead Points Gap
1 Will Power X X 528 0
2 Dario Franchitti 505 -23
3 Scott Dixon X 443 -85
4 Ryan Briscoe 406 -122
5 Helio Castroneves 398 -130
6 Ryan Hunter-Reay 392 -136
7 Tony Kanaan 360 -168
8 Marco Andretti 319 -209
9 Justin Wilson 316 -212
10 Dan Wheldon 309 -219

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      Me, I'm not a fan of spec and oval racing. Now, put the two together, and I'm Zzzzzzz....
      • 4 Years Ago
      this series will be better in the next 2 years with more like formula one cars, with different aero kits and engines.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Agreed, oval racing is just so damn boring. I do pay attention when they road race which is interesting even if it is a spec series. Sure do miss the old champ car days.