Briscoe wins Chicago thriller by a whisker
30 August 2009 – Seven thousandths of a second is all there was between Scott Dixon and race winner Ryan Briscoe at the finish in Chicago on Saturday night. The two championship contenders went wheel-to-wheel on the oval as the Australian eventually came out on top as thirteen cars finished within a second of first place.
With Penske having locked out the top two places in qualifying on Friday, it was Briscoe who led away at the start of a crucial race in the 2009 championship. Briscoe led for the first half of the race despite immense pressure from his team-mate and reigning Champion Dixon, who had climbed from sixth at the start.
A highly efficient pit-stop by the Target Chip Ganassi crew allowed Dixon to leapfrog Briscoe for the lead at the first round of pit-stops although the New Zealander saw soon the Penske going by on the race track. However, all looked lost for Briscoe after being involved in a near race-ending collision with lapped traffic on the 75th tour, dropping him back to fourth.
A large accident for the Andretti Green car of Hideki Mutoh resulted in a full course yellow although overshooting his pit box cost Briscoe yet more time. Castroneves and Dixon then battled for the win until the former also lost time in the pits which, in-turn, saw the pair of Target cars at the front. Unbelievably, though, Franchitti would also be a pit lane victim when becoming tangled up with a wheel gun, falling to fourth place.
The true drama of the evening came as a damaged rear wheel for Castroneves resulted in a trip into the wall and a safety car period with only 16 laps remaining in the race. With the restart always anticipated to be exciting, Briscoe and Dixon touched wheels several times as seemingly the entire field bunched up behind the leading duo.
The incredible finish saw Briscoe cross the line only seven thousandths of a second ahead of Dixon with the top thirteen cars covered by an inconceivable eight tenths of a second. With only two races to go in the series, Briscoe takes a 25-point lead to Japan with Dixon now only eight points behind second-placed Franchitti.