A day after winning his third IZOD IndyCar® Series championship in four years, Dario Franchitti got his chance to celebrate.
Franchitti and Firestone Indy Lights champion J.K. Vernay – along with other drivers, teams and manufacturers – were recognized during the Indy Racing League Championship Celebration poolside at the W Hotel on South Beach in Miami. Phillips Van Heusen executives Allen Sirkin and Mike Kelly, representing series sponsor IZOD, and members of the Hulman-George family presented Franchitti with a $1 million championship bonus check and the new IZOD IndyCar Series Championship Trophy.
In addition to the championship bonus, Franchitti accepted the $10,000 Bosch Platinum Award and received a $100,000 diamond-encrusted champion's timepiece from Ritmo Mundo and the Herff Jones Champions Award, a ring valued at $5,000.
“I'm just going to enjoy (this third championship),” Franchitti said. “I think I'm just going to let it sink in, enjoy it. I'm very proud of the achievement. And it's an absolute honor to get to drive for the Target team. That feeling of success is great.”
Kevin O'Donnell, chief mechanic for Franchitti's No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda-powered Dallara, accepted the IZOD IndyCar Series Chief Mechanic of the Year Award.
Alex Lloyd of Dale Coyne Racing accepted the $25,000 IZOD IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year Award, while Simona de Silvestro won the Tony Renna Rising Star Award.
Will Power of Verizon Team Penske won the $25,000 Raybestos Road & Street Challenge for having the best average finish on road and street courses while Dan Wheldon of Panther Racing was awarded the Xtrac Championship Award and its $5,000 prize.
Vernay accepted the mini Firestone Firehawk Cup, $10,000 for Rookie of the Year, a $10,000 award for the Raybestos Road and Street Course Challenge for having the best average finish on road and street courses and the $5,000 “Securing Tomorrow Award” from Gregory & Appel Insurance for winning the most races.
“I'm just proud about the work that we did together at Sam Schmidt Motorsport,” Vernay said. “It was a good year, especially for being a rookie in America. Now we have to be focused on next year to go to the IZOD IndyCar Series, to find a good deal. I will be the happiest guy in the world if I go there.”
Dave Higuera, chief mechanic for Vernay's No. 7 Lucas Oil/CJ entry for Sam Schmidt Motorsports Racing, accepted $5,000 as Firestone Indy Lights Chief Mechanic of the Year.
James Hinchcliffe of Team Moore Racing won the Greg Moore Legacy Award Presented by Firestone and the $5,000 Lucas Oil Frequent Polesitter Award while his teammate Adrian Campos Jr. was named Sunoco Most Improved Driver, earning an additional $10,000.
Rodrigo Barbosa of PDM Racing claimed the Force For Earth Hard Charger Award and its $5,000 prize for improving the most total positions during the 2009 season. IndyCar Series award winners
Championship driver: Dario Franchitti
Herff Jones Championship Driver Award (ring valued at $5,000): Dario Franchitti
Ritmo Mundo Championship Driver Award (diamond watch valued at $100,000): Dario Franchitti
Championship team: Target Chip Ganassi Racing
Championship team sponsor: Target
Championship team managers: Scott Harner and Barry Wanser
Chief Mechanic of the Year Award: Kevin O'Donnell
Rookie of the Year Award ($25,000): Alex Lloyd
Second place championship driver: Will Power
Second place championship team: Verizon Team Penske
Third place championship driver: Scott Dixon
Third place championship team: Target Chip Ganassi Racing
Tony Renna Rising Star Award: Simona de Silvestro
BOSCH Platinum Award ($10,000 for highest-finishing driver using Bosch spark plugs): Dario Franchitti
Raybestos Road & Street Course Challenge ($25,000 cash or product): Will Power
Xtrac Championship Award ($5,000 for driver who won most Xtrac Awards during 2010): Dan Wheldon
Manufacturer Recognition Awards: Honda, Firestone, Dallara, and Xtrac Firestone Indy Lights award winners:
Championship driver (mini Firehawk Cup): J.K. Vernay
Herff Jones Championship Driver Award (ring valued at $4,000): J.K. Vernay
Ritmo Mundo Championship Driver Award (watch valued at $25,000): J.K. Vernay
Championship team (mini Firehawk Cup): Sam Schmidt Motorsports
Chief Mechanic of the Year: Dave Higuera
Second place championship driver: James Hinchcliffe
Second place championship team: Team Moore Racing
Third place championship driver: Martin Plowman
Third place championship team: AFS Racing Inc./Andretti Autosport
Firestone Painting Award: J.K. Vernay
Force for Earth Hard Charger ($5,000): Rodrigo Barbosa
Firestone Indy Lights Rookie of the Year ($10,000): J.K. Vernay
Greg Moore Legacy Award: James Hinchcliffe
Gregory & Appel "Securing Tomorrow" Award ($5,000): J.K. Vernay
Lucas Oil Frequent Polesitter Award ($5,000): James Hinchcliffe
Raybestos Road & Street Course Challenge (10,000): J.K. Vernay
Sunoco Most Improved Driver ($10,000): Adrian Campos Jr.