LONG BEACH, Calif. (Sunday, April 19, 2009) – Dario Franchitti drove a strong race and benefitted from two well-timed pit stops to win the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The victory was the ninth of Franchitti’s career and the 25th for Target Chip Ganassi Racing.
Franchitti started second but lost two spots in the first turn of the 85-lap race. He moved back up to second on Lap 15 before pitting on Lap 16. The stop for tires and fuel proved to be fortuitous as contact by Mike Conway brought out a full-course caution two laps later. As the rest of the field cycled through pit stops, Franchitti took the lead on Lap 32.
Franchitti benefited from a similar scenario later in the race, pitting under green conditions on Lap 53, one lap before another full-course caution. From that point, Franchitti led the final 29 laps, opening up a lead of several seconds over pole sitter Will Power.
Power finished second in the No. 12 Team Verizon Wireless car, two days after relinquishing the seat of the No. 3 Team Penske entry to Helio Castroneves. Castroneves finished seventh in his first race of the season.
Andretti Green Racing drivers Tony Kanaan, Danica Patrick and Marco Andretti all finished in the top 10 despite starting 11th or worse. Kanaan finished third, while Patrick improved from 22nd to fourth. Andretti finished sixth.
Also on Sunday, J.R. Hildebrand led all 45 laps of the Firestone Indy Lights Grand Prix of Long Beach from the pole to earn his second career victory. Richard Philippe was second, James Hinchcliffe third, Jonathan Summerton fourth and Ana Beatriz fifth.