Mike Stevens | Jun 22, 2009

PENSKE'S RYAN BRISCOE still holds a slender lead at the top of the IndyCar standings after finishing second to Scotsman Dario Franchetti at the Iowa 250.

After leading the race for 85 laps – the most for any driver – Briscoe lost the lead at the final round of stops and was unable to regain his place at the head of the field as he was edged out by 5.013 seconds.

Briscoe’s result was his third consecutive runner-up finish of the season, and leaves him three points ahead of Franchetti in the driver’s standings. This is a remarkable turn-around for the Australian who narrowly escaped with his life during a fiery crash in Chicago four years ago.

Although disappointed to miss out on victory, the 27-year old said he was pleased to have maintained his championship lead.

"I had a great battle at the end there with Dario. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough for him at the end,” Briscoe said.

“I was hoping with the lapped traffic we were coming up on at the end I was going to be able to catch him like the previous stint and get around him, but he actually got the luckier draw with the traffic and was able to extend the lead.

"So it was tough. But I knew where the others were and, you know, it was a pretty good day to come in second and extend the points lead."

Meanwhile, Marcos Ambrose has equalled his best NASCAR Sprint Cup finish with a last to third effort at the Toyota/SaveMart 350 in California.

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After qualifying third, Ambrose was confident of contending for a debut victory before suffering an engine failure during practice, consigning him to the back of the grid for the start of the race.

However, Ambrose was able to charge through the field, making up 38 places as he challenged for an unlikely victory only to narrowly miss-out, reaffirming his status as arguably the premier road circuit performer in the popular American series.

“I thought I was at Eldora (Speedway) all day. It was just really slippery. Those rear tyres just didn't have a lot of forward grip. We've got a lot of power in these Cup cars, and you've got your work cut out for you,” Ambrose said.

“I was hot, I was mad, I was happy, I was sad all together. I'm just proud of my team, JTG Daugherty, having trusted me to drive their car, and took a chance putting me in. No one really knew what I was all about, and I just want to thank them.

I have to thank Michael Waltrip Racing, too, for giving us great support, just an awesome combination right now, great group of guys.”

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