IRL: Indy 500: AGR, Franchitti race report

Tough Day at Indianapolis Ends With 14th For Franchitti SPEEDWAY, Ind. (May 30, 2004) - Archipelago Exchange (ArcaEx) driver Dario Franchitti experienced a career's worth of highs and lows during Sunday's running of the Indianapolis 500 ...

Tough Day at Indianapolis Ends With 14th For Franchitti

SPEEDWAY, Ind. (May 30, 2004) - Archipelago Exchange (ArcaEx) driver Dario Franchitti experienced a career's worth of highs and lows during Sunday's running of the Indianapolis 500 before ending the rain-shortened classic with a 14th place finish.

Franchitti, who started on the outside of the front row, roared past his teammate Dan Wheldon in the opening corner and established himself in the #2 position through the early laps. But, his day quickly unraveled as reports of a transmission problem surfaced just before the race was red-flagged for rain on lap 27.

However, the rain delay turned out to be a blessing as Franchitti's ArcaEx crew was allowed to repair the problem while efforts to dry the track were underway. When the race resumed at 4:30 p.m. (EDT), Franchitti was hoping to mount a charge to the front. But, Franchitti found the handling characteristics of his machine less than desirable after the break and the frustration returned. He managed to stay among the top- 10 until after the halfway point of the 200-lap event when the ArcaEx team chose to gamble on a chance to beat Mother Nature and win the Indianapolis 500. Franchitti pitted on lap 113 for fuel only in an attempt to cycle to the top of the standings just in time for a shower that was predicted to be 30 minutes out.

However, bad fortune returned again just after he took the lead under caution on lap 132 as the right rear tire lost pressure and sent him back to the pit lane. He restarted in the 14th position, but was never able to challenge again among the traffic between him and the leaders.

Honda driver Buddy Rice went on to win today's race, which was finally stopped by rain on lap 180. He was followed by Andretti Green drivers Tony Kanaan and Dan Wheldon in the Team7-Eleven and Klein Tools/Jim Beam machines, respectively. Teammate Bryan Herta finished fourth in the XM Satellite Radio Honda-powered Dallara and was followed by Bruno Junqueira as Honda swept the top-seven finishing positions.

Round 5 of the Indy Racing League IndyCar® Series is set for Saturday, June 12, at Texas Motor Speedway. Kanaan posted a second-place finish in that event in 2003.

Dario Franchitti, #27 ArcaEx Dallara/Honda/Firestone:

"The highlight of my day was passing Dan Wheldon at the start, but from then it went rapidly downhill. We really made a great start and everything was going really well up until the first stop. We came in and for some reason we lost fifth and sixth gear. Then, the rain came and we could work on the car, so we really thought luck was going our way. At that point, we decided that we didn't quite have the car to win, so we took a bit of downforce out when the race resumed. But, from that point the ArcaEx car wasn't very good. We had a pretty big understeer and basically we were a sitting duck. One guy would pass, then another would line up and pass, and it was just a vicious circle. Kyle (Moyer) made a great call later in the race and we took a gamble, but right then we ended up with a right rear puncture and that kind of summed our day up really. Bruno (Junqueira) ended up fifth and we were ahead of him before all that. It was just one of the most frustrating days I've ever been involved with."

Kyle Moyer, General Manager, Andretti Green Racing:

"I've had fewer bumps on a rollercoaster at Disneyland that we had today with the ArcaEx team. We broke a gear at the beginning of the race and were stuck in fourth gear, but then the rain came and we fixed that, so we thought we'd be okay. We tried to improve the car after the rain, but it seemed to get worse. We finally tried some strategy towards the end of the race when we thought the rain was coming to tried to sneak in there. But, then we got a flat tire and that was pretty much it for our day."

- AGR -

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Dan Wheldon , Buddy Rice , Jim Beam