IRL: Indy 500: AGR, Kanaan race report

Team 7-Eleven's Kanaan Scores Runner-Up Finish at Indy SPEEDWAY, Ind. (May 30, 2004) - Team 7-Eleven driver Tony Kanaan capped a successful month at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Sunday with a career-best runner-up finish in the 88th running of...

Team 7-Eleven's Kanaan Scores Runner-Up Finish at Indy

SPEEDWAY, Ind. (May 30, 2004) - Team 7-Eleven driver Tony Kanaan capped a successful month at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Sunday with a career-best runner-up finish in the 88th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Kanaan, whose best Indy finish prior to today was a third in last year's event, led 28 laps in the midst of battling eventual winner Buddy Rice throughout the late stages of the rain-shortened race. Weather delayed the start of the event by more than two hours and then interrupted it for nearly two more after just 27 laps were run.

After starting fifth in the 33-car field, Kanaan settled in among the top-five and went to work on chasing his first career "500" victory. As the race neared its halfway point in the late afternoon hours, Kanaan dodged a bullet that nearly cost him a shot at the win. On lap 91, just eight laps before his next scheduled pit stop, Kanaan lost air pressure in his left rear tire, was forced to pit road for service on lap 94 and appeared to be on the brink of elimination as a candidate for the win. But just as the Team 7-Eleven machine left the pit box, the caution flag flew, which rotated Kanaan to the second position just behind his teammate Dan Wheldon, who also pitted just before the caution.

Fueled by that break, Kanaan and Wheldon waged a battle between themselves while rain threatened again. Strategy, based on the approaching weather, became a major player as teams tried to outguess Mother Nature. Kanaan continued his shootout among the top three and found himself running second at lap 150 behind Rice and just ahead of Wheldon.

Kanaan tried feverishly to find a way to catch Rice for the next 20 laps, but was unable to do so before the rain drops began to fall around the 2.5-mile Brickyard oval. The race was halted and counted as "official" on lap 180 with the Team 7-Eleven Honda-powered Dallara in the second position.

Wheldon went on to finish third in the Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone and was followed by teammate Bryan Herta in the XM Satellite Radio machine as Andretti Green went "two-three- four." Bruno Junqueira rounded out the top-five in another Honda-powered entry.

Kanaan's performance gave him his second-straight runner-up result in 2004 and his third top-five, including his win at Phoenix International Raceway on March 21.

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.

Tony Kanaan, #11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone:

"I drove with everything I had, but Buddy (Rice) just had a faster car today. It's not always that the best car and best driver that wins, but I think today that Buddy deserved it. I did my best and the whole Team 7-Eleven did a great job, but he was just faster than me. All you can do is work as hard as you can. But, I'm happy. What a great job by Honda. I'm very happy for them for getting their first Indy 500 win, too."

Kim Green, President, Andretti Green Racing:

"That was certainly a very complicated race because you were not only racing everybody else, but you were racing the weather, too. I think it would have been a heck of a fight to see the race run to the finish and I'm disappointed for us that we didn't get an opportunity to at least see if we could beat Buddy. It's disappointing for the fans, as well. But, I'm just so proud of everybody on Team 7-Eleven and everybody at Andretti Green Racing. We've had a fantastic month. It just shows how much teamwork pays off. It's been a pleasure to be a part of it. We'll get it done."

- AGR -

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Buddy Rice , Kim Green , Jim Beam