Ryan Briscoe started from the pole, but took the lead back from Danica Patrick and last week’s Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti to win his first IZOD IndyCar Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.
After the field made a round of late-race green-flag pit stops, Briscoe used a push to pass boost his speed exiting turn four to overtake Patrick and sailed away with the lead, capping off a total of 102 laps led in the 228-lap event.
“I’m surprised I didn’t have anything thrown at me,” Briscoe joked after the race. Patrick “gave us a good run for our money tonight. It was fun racing side-by-side with her.”
The win is Briscoe’s first of the year and his first at the track. It makes team owner Roger Penske the winningest car owner at TMS in the IndyCar Series.
The race was an inspired performance for Patrick. She only lead one lap, immediately after her sixth and final green flag stop, but was in the top five for nearly the entire race. It was her first led lap this year and in her career at Texas Motor Speedway and the second place finish was her first top five of the year.
While the performance was there on-track, Patrick said while there have been lows in her season, there are many positives her team can glean thus far in 2010.
“Sometimes the little victories that I have throughout the season are not necessarily obvious on the track. It may be there in other aspects of what I’m doing, winning little victories here and there to get everything in line to perform from top to bottom on race day,” she said. “It’s just really nice to have a result to show how hard I’ve been working and how hard the team has been working as well.”
Patrick was followed by her Andretti Autosport teammate Marco Andretti in third, followed by Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti. Franchitti leaves TMS with the IndyCar Series points lead, knocking Briscoe’s teammate Will Power off the top stop for the first time in 2010.
Andretti had to overcome a bad pit stop to finish third. After his team serviced the car and he went to drive away, the right rear wheel fell off the racecar, adding costly time to the stop.
“Never give up, I think that was the name of the game tonight,” he said.
A somewhat scary incident occurred on lap 99 when rookie Simona de Silvestro got loose and hit the outside wall going into turn three. Her car burst into flames and spun around, before finally coming to a stop in the apron between turns three and four. Texas Motor Speedway safety crews were slow to respond, with one track official, fire extinguisher in hand, standing yards away from the car, not doing anything. Finally, another track official assisted de Silvestro out of the car and crews put out the fire. The driver was treated for burns on her hand, the result of placing it on the sidepod in the middle of the fire, to lift herself out of the racecar.
Penske driver Helio Castroneves, last year’s winner at TMS, also wrecked out of the race when Mario Moraes made contact with him coming out of turn four, sending both cars spinning into the front stretch grass. Bertrand Baguette was also involved in the incident.