Ganassi drivers overpowered by streaking Franchitti

Richmond notebook

Updated: July 1, 2007, 12:22 AM ET
By John Schwarb | Special to ESPN.com

RICHMOND, Va. -- In the end it wasn't a perfect night for Ganassi Racing drivers Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon. With Dario Franchitti winning the SunTrust Indy Challenge, there would be no gaining ground in the points Saturday night.

But at least this time they gave themselves a shot.

The IndyCar Series' two previous races at Texas and Iowa were throwaways for the veterans, with Dixon's 10th-place finish at Iowa the highest of the four. Wheldon finished 15th and 11th in the two races, dropping to fourth in points.

But Wheldon moved to third in the standings with a third place at Richmond International Raceway, and Dixon moved to second with a runner-up run. It was the second time the teammates finished in the top-three, the last time being at Kansas.

"From the Target team point of view this was a good result, especially after our last few races," Wheldon said.

Dixon had run second or fourth in each of the season's first six races, and got on that track again at Richmond. He finished .41 seconds behind Franchitti, not quite able to reel in the Scotsman on the short oval where passing proved difficult.

"Had good grip, did a good job," Dixon said. "There were [too] many marbles to risk it."

Another short day for Simmons
Rahal Letterman Racing's Jeff Simmons crashed out at Richmond for a second consecutive year, getting high out of the groove and hitting the SAFER barrier outside Turn 2 on Lap 155.

"It seems like every time we have a good car, something happens to set us back," said Simmons, who finished 18th. "We were making the car better and were ready for our next pit stop, but the car just pushed out and I couldn't get it back."

Teammate Scott Sharp had a better day in his Dallara-Honda, scoring his fifth consecutive top-10 finish by coming home eighth.

"We were loose for the first half of the race like pretty much everyone else was, but the guys did a great job of working on the car, making it better and keeping us in the hunt," Sharp said.

Meira makes it work
Vitor Meira had reason to be anxious at the start of Saturday's race, driving a backup car after the left-front suspension snapped on his Panther Racing ride during practice Friday. He had no chance to log any laps on the car, with qualifying rained out that evening.

No problem. He brought the backup car home in ninth, the same place he started the race by virtue of his ninth place in points.

"The race we won was the Delphi Panther crew getting the car ready for the race after the crash," Meira said. "We finished well today because of all their hard work yesterday."

John Schwarb is a freelance journalist covering motorsports and a contributor to ESPN.com. He can be reached at johnschwarb@yahoo.com.

ALSO SEE