Over the weekend, both the Indy Racing League and American Le Mans Series named their champions as the seasons finished up. In IndyCar, Dario Franchitti took the top honors. Patron Highcroft racing was named the LMP1 champions in the American Le Mans Series.
The IndyCar race at Homestead-Miami in Florida made history for several reasons. It was the first time the championship came down to the final laps of the last race of the season and it was also the first IndyCar race ever to run without a single caution. The fact that all 200 laps were run under green allowed Franchitti’s fuel strategy to play out perfectly.
Franchitti entered the last race5 points behind his teammate Scott Dixon and3 points ahead of Ryan Briscoe. In order to clinch the championship, he had to win the race. On lap 194, Franchitti inherited the lead from Briscoe as he had to pit for fuel. Dixon pitted one lap prior for fuel as well. At that point, the only thing Franchitti needed to do to clinch the race and championship was not run out of fuel before the finish line.
In the American Le Mans Series, the Patron Highcroft Racing team was crowned the 2009 champions after securing a second place [in class] finish with the team’s Acura ARX-02a LMP1 car at Laguna Seca over the weekend. Drivers Scott Sharp and David Brabham secured the driver’s championship as well, meaning the boys at Patron Highcroft took all three championships: driver’s, team’s, and manufacturer’s.
This race weekend went much better for the team than the previous race at Petit Le Mans, where they rebuilt an entire car in less than 24 hours. Minor incidents during the race put the car in for two unscheduled pit stops and two laps down, but Brabham was able to fight back and make his way into second place in the LMP1 class and third place overall where the team ended up finishing.
For the other classes, the Lowe’s Fernandez Racing squad with its Acura LMP2 car took top honors in all three categories as well with drivers Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz securing the driver’s championship. In GT1, the Corvette team took all three championships asit wasthe only team in that class, which prompted a mid-season switch to the GT2 class in which the Corvettes once again proved competitive. The GT2 class championships were taken by the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 driven by Jörg Bergmeister and Patrick Long.