IRL: Indy 500: AGR's Andretti, Kanaan race report

TEAM 7-ELEVEN'S KANAAN DRIVES TO THIRD PLACE FINISH IN INDY 500 AS ANDRETTI CLOSES OUT DRIVING CAREER INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 25, 2003) -- Team 7-Eleven driver Tony Kanaan started second and finished third in the 87th running of the ...

TEAM 7-ELEVEN'S KANAAN DRIVES TO THIRD PLACE FINISH IN INDY 500 AS ANDRETTI CLOSES OUT DRIVING CAREER

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 25, 2003) -- Team 7-Eleven driver Tony Kanaan started second and finished third in the 87th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday in front of his teammate and boss, Michael Andretti, who closed out a legendary 20-year driving career with an early exit. Kanaan, who led at lap 50 and again at lap 166, did not have an easy go of it, as he was forced to fight his way back from a poorly-timed caution flag that left him at the tail end of the lead lap just over 125 miles into the race. He and his Team 7-Eleven teammates chipped away over the next 250 miles, putting themselves into the top three for the final stage of the event. Andretti, who made his 14th and final Indy 500 start Sunday, looked like a contender for his first Indy win during the first half of the race. Andretti ran among the top three and led 28 of the first 94 laps before a throttle linkage broke, ending his race and ending one of the most impressive open-wheel careers in motorsports history. The Andretti Green Racing owner-driver was posted with a 27th place finish. Sunday's race was won by Penske racing driver Gil de Ferran -- his first Indianapolis 500 victory and the third in a row for the team. His teammate, Helio Castroneves, finished second. Kanaan now leads the IRL point standings with 137 points, Castroneves is second with 123 points and Scott Sharp is third with 116 points. Team 7-Eleven will now prepare for the fifth round of the IRL IndyCar Series at Texas Motor Speedway. Qualifying is set for Thursday, June 5, while the race will be under the lights on Saturday night, June 7.

TONY KANAAN, #11 TEAM 7-ELEVEN DALLARA/HONDA/FIRESTONE: "We had the car, but unfortunately, it looked like nobody could pass anybody. We had fast cars. When I saw Michael leading, I knew his car was good, and I thought it was his day. When I saw him come into the pits, I was really upset. Then I said, 'Well, it's up to me.' I tried my best. The whole 7-Eleven team did a great job. A month ago, we had no idea if I'd be able to make this race, and they worked hard. The whole team worked as a family to put this thing together, and we did have the car to do it, but I wasn't able to pass Gil and Helio. We had a fast car, but we'll take third."

KIM GREEN, PRESIDENT, ANDRETTI GREEN RACING: "We certainly had a very, very fast car. We made a few adjustments after our first full fuel run and then really didn't touch the car for the rest of the day. Overall, I think we had a very, very good day. Certainly, running third is not bad in this business, especially at this place."

MICHAEL ANDRETTI, #7 TEAM 7-ELEVEN DALLARA/HONDA/FIRESTONE: "Everything was going real smooth. I was leading the race when I really shouldn't have been leading the race. My car wasn't set up to lead the race at that point. We still had a good three or four miles per hour to adjust into the car for the end of the race, so I was like, 'This is going to be really good.' "Then, I got passed, which was almost the plan. I just sat back, saved fuel and was doing everything I wanted to do. I thought we were looking good. But then, the next thing I knew, I stood on the throttle when I downshifted to pass somebody and the throttle linkage broke. "It's disappointing. I'm still numb. But, the first thing I did when I got out of the car was look up at the pylon to see where the other guys were. That's my focus now."

TONY COTMAN, TEAM MANAGER, TEAM 7-ELEVEN: "As Michael said, everything was going as planned. To be quite honest, it's been one of the smoothest months I've ever had at Indy. "We were just starting to have a different mindset of 'let's start working on later in the race now.' Enough cars had dropped out. There wasn't so much traffic. We were 'demon' in traffic. We were 'demon' earlier, so we were just trimming for a little bit of a run at the end to see what we had. But, we never made it."

- AGR -

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Sharp , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Tony Kanaan