Copper World Indy 200 Postscript Kanaan Continues Dominant Reign at Phoenix Oval INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, March 22, 2004 -- Just how dominant was Tony Kanaan's victory in the Copper World Indy 200? The Andretti Green Racing driver led 191 of the...
Copper World Indy 200 Postscript
Kanaan Continues Dominant Reign at Phoenix Oval
INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, March 22, 2004 -- Just how dominant was Tony Kanaan's victory in the Copper World Indy 200?
The Andretti Green Racing driver led 191 of the 200 laps, including the final 123 laps, en route to the win on March 21 at Phoenix International Raceway. It was the most dominant IRL IndyCar® Series performance since Scott Dixon led every lap in the rain-shortened event at Richmond last June.
"This morning I felt that I had the car to do it," Kanaan said following the event. "It was just going to be a matter of taking the right opportunities at the right time, use the traffic at my advantage. I think we did that."
The only time the Brazilian gave up the lead was during a series of green-flag pit stops midway through the race. Sam Hornish Jr., Tomas Scheckter and Darren Manning each took turns at the front before Kanaan re-assumed the lead.
"It was a tough day out there, very hot," Kanaan said. "The car would start to go off after 50 laps, so the last 15 laps were hard for everybody. I worked my way through the traffic. It looked easy, but it wasn't at all."
Kanaan won for the second straight year at PIR, prompting his Andretti Green Racing teammate Dan Wheldon to call for a schedule change for 2005.
"I'm happy for him to score another win at Phoenix," said Wheldon, who finished third in the race after winning the MBNA pole. "He seems to like this place a lot. Maybe the IRL will take this off the calendar next year if they could."
Kanaan's response: "So far it's the only possibility I have to win, so I would say no, keep it on."
Matsuura top rookie again: Super Aguri Fernandez Racing driver Kosuke Matsuura was the top-finishing Bombardier Rookie of Year candidate for the second straight race posting his second-consecutive 11th-place finish.
"I don't think I did well today, but I was very satisfied with the first two stints before I brushed the wall," Matsuura said. "When I brushed the wall, I went outside too much, and it was my fault. It was nice that (team co-owner) Mr. (Aguri) Suzuki told me to just go out there and do my best. I hope to do better in the next race, and I know I can."
Rookie Mark Taylor, the 2003 Menards Infiniti Pro Series champion, finished 12th, the best finish of his young IndyCar Series career.
Fernandez' first race short-lived: Adrian Fernandez' IndyCar Series debut didn't last long. In fact, he didn't even complete a lap.
Fernandez made a mistake while downshifting coming to the green flag, and the gearbox problem forced him to the garage early.
"This was a big part of not being familiar with the car," Fernandez said. "The throw (distance the shifter moves) is a lot longer than what I am used to, so when I went down the gears, I actually didn't go down the amount I should have. I stayed in the middle of the gearbox and that is really what broke the gearbox.
"It's just learning. Even though we didn't finish, I learned something which is positive, and I learned a lot of things through the weekend. We learned a lot of things to prepare better for Motegi. The guys did an amazing job, and it was just unfortunate that we couldn't finish the race to at least get the miles."
Historic win for Medeiros: Thiago Medeiros' victory in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series Phoenix 100 was even more dominating than Kanaan's win in the IndyCar Series event.
Medeiros led all 100 laps of the race and became the first Indy Racing League competitor to lap the entire field since Mark Dismore accomplished the feat in the IndyCar Series event at Texas Motor Speedway in 1999.
"After Homestead, I said that I wanted to win at Phoenix and lap the field," Medeiros said. "It was a joke between me and my manager, and fortunately, it came true. We made history here. I'm very happy. We were quickest here in the Open Test, and now I'm looking forward to Indy. I'm very happy to be leading the championship."
The 2004 IRL IndyCar Series season continues with the Indy Japan 300 at 11:30 p.m. (EDT) on April 17 at Twin Ring Motegi. The race will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and the IMS Radio Network. The Menards Infiniti Pro Series Freedom 100 will take place May 22 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be broadcast live by ESPN2.