Franchitti wins IRL opener in Florida


Associated Press

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.

Dario Franchitti is still the one to beat in IndyCar.

The two-time defending series champion was perfect in Sunday’s season opener, leading 94 of 100 laps on the scenic, 1.8-mile street course and beating Will Power to the finish line by more than seven seconds.

It was Franchitti’s first victory and fifth top-five finish in six starts in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

“He’s like clockwork,” Power said. “He never makes mistakes.”

Franchitti didn’t make any Sunday, and there were plenty of opportunities for them. Just ask Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon, Danica Patrick or Marco Andretti.

Franchitti grabbed the lead early on and was hardly challenged the rest of the way.

“Sunday has a bit of motivation for this year and maybe that answers the question of how badly I still want to win races and championships and all that stuff,” Franchitti said. Tony Kanaan, the 2004 series champion who joined his new team Monday, held off Simona de Silvestro over the final few laps for third. De Silvestro enjoyed her best finish in 18 career starts.

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