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Sunday, June 12, 2011
Leading drivers suffer from blind draw

By Master Tesfatison

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Texas Motor Speedway thought fans would be drawn into the surprise element of implementing a blind draw, so the track experimented with an idea to determine position for the second of the Firestone Twin 275s races Saturday.

The drivers expressed a different feeling.

Dario Franchitti won the first Firestone Twin 275 race and suffered the consequences for the second with an inverted blind draw order based on your first-race finish. He had no control over his fate and ended up starting in 28th place for the nightcap.

“To have a championship in the IndyCar series, drawing the grid out of a hat is a joke,” Franchitti said. “Through no fault of our own, we started 25 places behind Will [Power]. Will, he took advantage of it tonight and did a great job.”

Franchitti slowly passed drivers on the track one by one but eventually ran out of time. One of the fastest cars on the track would place seventh, and Franchitti seemed to have all but forgotten his win earlier after the conclusion of the second race.

“There’s enough variables out there,” Franchitti said. “We don’t need to be throwing dice to be deciding grid positions. That made me mad. I’m sitting there, OK, I won the first race, but at the same point my emotion right now has been [ticked] off about the hand we were dealt tonight.

Franchitti’s Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, Scott Dixon, found himself in a similar position, starting in the middle of the pack in 18th from the blind draw. Dixon posted the fastest lap in the second race on Lap 110, but he could only manage to squeeze out consecutive second-place finishes on the night.

“Second race, you could see it sort of trickling down with the draw that it wasn’t looking too good for ourselves,” Dixon said. “Obviously myself starting from 18th and Dario 28th, it’s a huge deficit when the competitor for the championship starts third and with not too much competition in front of him.”

Power, the IndyCar series points leader, lucked out drawing the third spot -- ultimately becoming the biggest deciding factor for the first oval race win in his career -- while other drivers in the hunt for a championship series found themselves in the back of the pack. Power took the lead on Lap 39 and would dominate with the race-high 68 leading laps.

“I thought coming into the race, you don’t control your own destiny basically,” Power said. “It’s just a draw. It was going to be very unfair for someone. It happened to be Dario.”

The smoke may have settled from Power’s donuts after his victory, but Franchitti might see the lingering effects throughout the season. Power’s points over Franchitti jumped from seven to 21 points after the second race.

“If it comes down to five points at the end of the year, Dario will look back at this race and say, ‘If I started where I should have, I would have had those five points.’”