IRL: Chicagoland: Race report

WHELDON ALL BUT CLINCHES TITLE AFTER CHICAGOLAND WIN JOLIET, Ill., Sunday, Sept. 11, 2005 -- Dan Wheldon recorded his single-season-record sixth victory in the Peak Antifreeze Indy 300 presented by Mr. Clean by 0.0133 of a second over Helio ...

WHELDON ALL BUT CLINCHES TITLE AFTER CHICAGOLAND WIN

JOLIET, Ill., Sunday, Sept. 11, 2005 -- Dan Wheldon recorded his single-season-record sixth victory in the Peak Antifreeze Indy 300 presented by Mr. Clean by 0.0133 of a second over Helio Castroneves at Chicagoland Speedway. It was the eighth closest finish in series history.

The victory all but assured that the 26-year-old Englishman will win the IRL IndyCar® Series title. Wheldon leads reigning series champion, and Andretti Green Racing teammate Tony Kanaan, by 102 points with two events remaining.

Sam Hornish Jr., who has won twice in five races at Chicagoland Speedway, finished third. Tomas Scheckter was fourth, Kanaan fifth and pole sitter Danica Patrick sixth.

A spectacular crash on Lap 21, involving drivers Ryan Briscoe and Alex Barron, brought out the first red flag in an IndyCar Series race since the 88th Indianapolis 500 in 2004. That red flag was due to rain.

Briscoe, who was airlifted to Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Ill., was listed in good condition with a concussion, a bruised lung and two fractured clavicles. He will be kept overnight for further observation.

PEAK ANTIFREEZE INDY 300 POST-RACE QUOTES:

DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished first): "I think the Honda power was the difference. Marlboro Team Penske was trying to push their way by. It's always difficult to hold up, but we were able to it. I didn't expect the race to go like that, and I didn't think I'd forget to push the pit lane speed button coming into the pits. When you make an error, as long as you make up for it, it's a good day."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, finished second): "I can't believe it. To lose (a race) that close, I don't what to feel, to be honest right now. Should I be happy? Should I be sad? I don't know. It's a weird feeling to finish second in this kind of situation, so close. We got ourselves back a little bit into the championship, and moved up into fifth. Let's keep moving."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, finished third): "I was trying to push Helio (Castroneves) past Dan (Wheldon) to at least get a win for the team. He was moving around trying to figure out where I was going to go, but I wasn't going to go anywhere but try to push him. It's kind of sad we lost the victory there, but we couldn't work together. I was trying everything I could to get the Marlboro Team Penske team into victory lane."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, finished fourth): "For sure, it was a pretty good day for the Pennzoil Panther crew. The car was fast, and we had great restarts all day. There were some crazy moments out there today. I was almost involved in a massive, massive wreck right there at the end. Luckily, we came out all right, and I can't complain about a top five. I just have to thank the Pennzoil crew and Chevrolet for a great effort this weekend."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 16 Rahal Letterman Racing Argent Pioneer Panoz/Honda/Firestone, finished sixth): "I've got 15, 13 laps left, I'm going to go for the win, of course. I hit the gas and thought I'd deal with the repercussions afterward. Instead I needed to back off. I was kind of in a predicament of being three wide with a couple of cars between (Turn) 3 and (Turn) 4. I dropped back a little bit. The tires were kind of old because of the strategy we used was not to change the tires on the last stop, which is absolutely right. I think the team did a perfect job on that. Nevertheless, you're going to move around on the track. I think in the end the it was a great race. It was actually my best race of the year."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Panoz/Honda/Firestone, finished eighth): "It was another top-10 finish for the Delphi Fernandez team. It was a tough day. We knew coming here that there would be multi-pack running. We have been struggling a little bit with our chassis in a lot of turbulent air, and this place is all about that. When there are two to three rows of three and four abreast in front, you have no downforce so any issues we are having are certainly exaggerated. It was a little bit fluky. There were times when the car was really good, and I charged into the top five but it just wouldn't last for long and would go off. Unfortunately, we couldn't battle a little harder today but we walk away with good points, and we'll go on to the next race."

PATRICK CARPENTIER (No. 83 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, finished ninth): "It was a great day for me, but I'm definitely sorry about what happened to Alex (Barron). You always hate it when these things happen, but he's just ended up in the wrong place a couple of times this year. For me, it was very fun racing today. Things were a bit crazy at the beginning, but the guys calmed down and made the car a lot of fun to drive. This was by far my best race on one of these fast ovals. It was the first time that we were able to stick with the leaders, but it's not going to be the last."

BUDDY LAZIER (No. 95 Pennzoil/Byrd's/American Sentry Guard Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, finished 10th): "Well, we had an awesome Pennzoil racecar out there today. We lost second gear early in the race and had a wheel nut lock up later during one of our pit stops, and that cost us at least 15 seconds. Not having second killed us on the restarts, and then about 15 laps later I shifted from fifth to sixth and we lost sixth. I really felt like we could have won this race, but we were banging on the rev limiter for a lot of the time."

***

The 10th season of IndyCar Series competition continues with the Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix Presented by Argent Mortgage at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) on Sept. 25 at Watkins Glen International. The race will be broadcast by ABC Sports and the IMS Radio Network. The race broadcast also will be carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 152 (XM Extreme). ESPN2's telecast of the Chicagoland 100 will be telecast at 3 p.m. (EDT) on Sept. 15 by ESPN2. The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series race is the Corning 100 on Sept. 25 at Watkins Glen International. It will be telecast by ESPN2 at 3 p.m. on Sept. 29.

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Helio Castroneves , Tony Kanaan , Alex Barron , Dan Wheldon , Ryan Briscoe , Jim Beam , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick
Teams Team Penske