IRL: Kanaan wins Kansas thriller

IRL: Kanaan wins Kansas thriller

Tony Kanaan won a thrilling shootout with Andretti Green Racing teammate Dan Wheldon and Rahal Letterman Racing's Vitor Meira to gain his first victory of the 2005 season in the Argent Mortgage Indy 300. Tony Kanaan takes the checkered...

Tony Kanaan won a thrilling shootout with Andretti Green Racing teammate Dan Wheldon and Rahal Letterman Racing's Vitor Meira to gain his first victory of the 2005 season in the Argent Mortgage Indy 300.

Tony Kanaan takes the checkered flag ahead of Dan Wheldon and Vitor Meira.
Photo by Michael Voorhees - IRL.
Dicing in green flag conditions from the 140th of 200 laps, Kanaan overcame an eighth place start with his Dallara/Honda to win for the first time since the Nashville night race last July. Today's victory marks the Brazilian 2004 Indy Racing League IndyCar Series champion's fifth career victory.

"It's been a long while since I've won so I'm very happy for me and for the team. I think Dan has extended his lead (to 335 points) but here I am, solid in second place (with 259). It was a hard race," Kanaan confirmed, "and it was crazy at some points out there. We always kept it calm and the guys did a great job on the stops."

Showing his sense of humor is still rampant Kanaan noted, "The biggest nose always wins." Kanaan led only ten laps of the race to Wheldon's 111, the most of any driver, but he did record the fastest lap while leading of 210.581mph.

Pitstop for Dan Wheldon.
Photo by Shawn Payne - IRL.
The 0.0120-second margin of victory for Kanaan was the sixth tightest in the League's ten-year history and the three-car finish was the second best. On this warm, humid and windy afternoon only three cars dropped out of the race and 18 were still on the lead lap.

Wheldon was disappointed not to take victory. "Losing by that little is very difficult," the 2005 Indianapolis 500 race winner sighed. "We had an absolute advantage coming out of the pits and my car was quicker" at the start of each run. "Side by side racing is one of the best things about racing on superspeedways like this," Wheldon stated.

It was another close call for Meira, who finished second here last year to teammate Buddy Rice in the second tightest IRL race. "I had nowhere to go at the end," Meira explained. "I tried the outside line around Tony but the car just wanted to push. Then I moved to the bottom of the track but I ran out of room," he said. My crew was fantastic today; they picked up two or three spots on the last stop and that put me right up there" in his Panoz/Honda.

Dario Franchitti finished fourth and called the 200-lap contest "not a bad day. I'm just surprised we ended up so far back. The car was plenty fast all day; it was really quick."

Tomas Scheckter took another fine finish for Panther Racing's Dallara/Chevrolet in fifth, yet drew the ire of some of his competitors with some inside moves below the white line.

Dan Wheldon leads the field.
Photo by Ron McQueeney - IRL.
"Tony was running high and I was down low there. Then he would come across," Scheckter said. "As soon as I got a run he would come across pushing me over the white line." Scheckter led 63 laps on four different occasions.

Scott Sharp took sixth in Fernandez Racing's Panoz/Honda and called it "an eventful day. It was an exciting back and forth race" for the veteran, who at one point touched wheels with Meira. "I was able to get a few guys there at the end and salvage a good points finish."

Darren Manning finished seventh in the first of Chip Ganassi's three Panoz/Toyota, the best of nine Toyota runners. "It was a good race all in all," the Briton considered. "It wasn't what we were hoping for but it's a good top-10 nonetheless."

Eighth went to Helio Castroneves in the Penske Dallara/Toyota who "started the day strong." His car developed some handling problems, but "we were able to maximize our points with the car we had."

Polesitter Danica Patrick earned a ninth place result despite several electrical problems on her Panoz/Honda. "I think our fifth gear wasn't quite fast enough but the car was pretty good in most cases. We were able to come back towards the leaders late in the race," she said.

Teammate and 2004 Kansas winner Buddy Rice was tenth after stopping for a splash of methanol with four laps to go. "We tried to save fuel for the end and hoped for a yellow flag" that never came. "We pitted late and that's where we finished. With one yellow lap we could have stolen the race," Rice declared.

Despite running with the leaders in the waning laps of the race, Tomas Enge settled for 11th in the second Panther Dallara/Chevy. The Czech thought, "The race was great fun. All the time today I was fighting in the front and racing with the top five guys. I had a great car all day," he professed.

Sam Hornish Jr. made his final stop well before the balance of the field and that decision relegated his Penske Dallara/Toyota to 12th place. He stalled pulling out of the pits "which put us in the back of the field." The team had him return to the pits to top off his fuel and he lost the lead pack.

Alex Barron took 13th just ahead of teammate Patrick Carpentier in a brace of Cheever Racing Dallara/Toyota racers. Barron "ran a really clean race with good pit stops and no real problems on the track." He just didn't have sufficient power. Carpentier "struggled with finding the speed we needed; midway through the race the car was pretty good and I was able to get by some guys, but I wasn't able to stay with them."

Andretti Green Racing is still trying to figure out why Bryan Herta's car doesn't have the speed of his three teammates after the American finished 15th. Team co-owner Michael Andretti acknowledged there is a problem: "Bryan is using the same car as Indy but we're scratching our heads to find out what his problem is."

A.J. Foyt IV thought it was "overall a solid day" when he took the checkered flags in 16th place. "We made the car better throughout the race and we worked awfully hard to get here" with the team's Dallara/Toyota. Ed Carpenter took 17th in another Dallara/Toyota while 2003 IRL champ Scott Dixon was the final driver on the lead lap with his Ganassi Panoz/Toyota, in 18th.

Jimmy Kite was five laps down in 19th place but was polite throughout the afternoon staying out of peoples' way with his Dallara/Toyota from Hemelgarn Racing.

Roger Yasukawa was the sole car to retire due to contact after he impacted the SAFER barrier in Turns 3 and 4 on lap 54. His Dallara/Honda "started off with a big push and we put some wing in it." Claiming Foyt "cut my line, I lost a bit of air and the car got loose, spun and hit the wall."

Ryan Briscoe retired the third Ganassi Panoz/Toyota in 21st place on the 114th lap when his clutch gave up and Kosuke Matsuura's Panoz/Honda's engine problem relegated the 2004 Bombardier Rookie of the Year to 20th at the close.

With half the season in the books, Wheldon leads in the point chase with 335 points; Kanaan is second with 259 while Castroneves holds 230 third-place points. Franchitti (219) and Hornish Jr. (216) complete the top five while Meira holds 205 sixth-place points.

The next race for the IndyCar Series takes place on July 16th at the concrete Nashville Superspeedway. It will be broadcast live on ESPN.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Tomas Enge , Darren Manning , Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Michael Andretti , A.J. Foyt IV , Jimmy Kite , Patrick Carpentier , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Alex Barron , Dan Wheldon , Roger Yasukawa , Buddy Rice , Ryan Briscoe , Kosuke Matsuura , Chip Ganassi , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick , Ed Carpenter , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing