IRL: Michigan: Race report

HERTA CLAIMS VICTORY AT MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Bryan Herta led a dominating 159 laps and won the Firestone Indy 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Herta, who won the Marlboro Pole Qualifying award with a fast...

HERTA CLAIMS VICTORY AT MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Bryan Herta led a dominating 159 laps and won the Firestone Indy 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

Herta, who won the Marlboro Pole Qualifying award with a fast lap of 219.141 mph (32.8556 seconds) on the 2-mile D-shaped oval, held off Andretti Green Racing teammate Dan Wheldon by 0.0374 of a second -- the 11th closest finish in IndyCar Series history. Tomas Scheckter finished third, followed by Tony Kanaan, Sam Hornish Jr. and Buddy Lazier.

It was Herta's first victory since 2003 at Kansas Speedway. The Michigan native, who had led on 152 laps in his previous 37 IndyCar Series starts, had been the only Andretti Green Racing driver not to win a race this season.

"I couldn't be happier," Herta said. "We were the only ones on this team that hadn't won this year, and we wanted to make it right. It's just awesome."

Herta got a good jump on a Lap 194 restart in the No. 7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda/Firestone following the race's only incident, a multi-car crash on Lap 181 involving Townsend Bell, Jaques Lazier, Kosuke Matsuura and Roger Yasukawa.

None of the drivers were injured in the accident.

FIRESTONE INDY 400 POST-RACE QUOTES:

BRYAN HERTA (No. 7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda/Firestone, winner Firestone Indy 400): "I couldn't be happier. We were the only ones on this team that hadn't won this year, and we wanted to make it right. It's just awesome. I can't thank XM Satellite Radio enough. They are the coolest sponsor in the world, and I promised them a win this year, and we did it. (About caution coming out during pit stop): "I didn't want to see that yellow. It was really close, but luckily I was able to stay on the lead lap. When everybody cycled back through after their pit stops, it worked out. It didn't change anything, we got back to the front, but it was a little tense there for a moment."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, finished third): "In the end, it was pretty crazy. It was just in the tow, and it was instincts. I was sideways, I was understeer, and everybody was the same. The Andretti (Green) guys were fighting hard with each other, and that let me through. What a great weekend. We collected the points, and we'll collect the victories when they come." (About pit road speed violation): "We got caught by that earlier. I think I may have pressed it a little early, and it didn't engage. Chevrolet and Panther gave me a great car to come back."

DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished second): "We raced as hard as anybody, because you couldn't give an inch. It's a nice situation when you are running up front with your teammates. (About tight racing at the end): What happened at the end is that everyone is on maximum power, so they are all very quick. The problem is that you can't lose the draft. You try to stay in it, and you wash up, which you can't control and then you come back down."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, finished fifth): "It's great to leave Michigan with a top-five finish. The car handled well all afternoon, and we did everything we could do. The Marlboro Team Penske crew did an awesome job in the pits to keep me up front the whole day. We were able to run with the leaders, and I'm happy with our performance."

BUDDY LAZIER (No. 95 Pennzoil/Byrd's/American Sentry Guard Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, finished sixth): "It was another great racecar. I really felt like I had a car that could have won the race. I was trying to help my teammate to the front late and it's another strong finish for both of us. In a way, I'm disappointed that we came home sixth because our Pennzoil car was handling so well out there. At the end we didn't have any problems marching right to the front. Chevrolet showed everybody how powerful they are, and we're looking forward to getting back out there."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Panoz/Honda/Firestone, finished seventh): "It was a pretty good day for the Delphi team. Like a lot of other cars out here running in the big pack, we kept having to work on the car to make it better. The best we really had the car was at the end. We ran most of our best string of laps then. I was able to get Dario (Franchitti) on the last lap. We leave with good points, and now we just have to go on to Kentucky."

PATRICK CARPENTIER (No. 83 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, finished ninth): "We made an engine change right before the race, and it seemed to make the car faster. I kept trying to hang with the leaders, but the car was sliding a bit. We made some improvements in the pits, but not enough to run with the front guys. We're still missing some speed, so we'll just have to look into what we can do to make the car faster for the upcoming races. Overall, though, I'm happy to get another top 10. It's good for the team, and it just shows how hard we're working."

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 33 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz/Toyota/Firestone, finished 10th): "At the start of the race, I really struggled with the car setup, and it was very pretty bad in traffic. We made changes every time I came into the pits, and by altering my line on the track, the No. 33 Target Toyota really started to come together near the end. I almost wish there were another 100 miles to the race. All things considered, I'm happy with a top-10 result, and we'll look to build on that for the next race."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, finished 21st): "The car was not very good at the beginning of the race, but my Marlboro Team Penske crew did a great job making front wing changes during our pit stops which really improved the handling. We had worked our way up to the lead pack, the car was consistent, and I was able to run high or low on the track. Unfortunately, something in the engine let go and ended our day early. It's really a shame because we were looking forward to a strong finish."

JAQUES LAZIER (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz/Toyota/Firestone, finished 17th): "It's definitely just a racing incident. I just feel so bad for the No.10 Target crew who worked so hard this weekend for me. The Target Toyota Panoz was just a little off for the start but we made adjustments and had some really good runs by the midway point. We were making some real progress and just kind of hanging out for the final sprint when the No. 2 car started to get loose and slide up. I had nowhere to go, and it felt like I got tagged from behind and at that point you are just a passenger. It's really unfortunate and disappointing because I feel like we really could have made it into the top 10 in my first race with Target Chip Ganassi Racing."

TOWNSEND BELL (No. 2 ROCKSTAR Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone, finished 15th): "It was good to be running in the top six or seven. I was going down the front straightaway trying to go to the inside of Sam and he moved down on to the line and I lifted. When we got in the corner, he decided to come across my nose, so I started to back out of it because I lost all the downforce. As soon as I washed up outside of him it caught me again. I saved it a few times but it just started dancing back and forth and finally stepped sideways. It looked like we were going to straighten back out but then I guess the guys behind me checked up and that was it, I was out. It's really unfortunate for the ROCKSTAR team, we had a good run today, had a good car and I hate to see it end that way. I know the guys will come back strong."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 16 Rahal Letterman Racing Argent Pioneer Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "We struggled all weekend with getting a consistency with the race car. In the beginning of the race, the car just slid too much, so I was changing things in the cockpit that I have never done before with weight jackers and a lot of things. I had to lift off the throttle in Turns 1 and 2 and slow my exit speed for the backstraightaway. I finally got the car to a good point where I could run flat all the way around the track, then I was able to race with people. I did learn a lot today with the side-by-side racing. I was trying to keep the car off the wall most of the time and continue the learning process with the high-banked ovals. I wanted to improve the car as the race went along, and I think we did that. This place is tougher than it looks. The track conditions seemed to change later in the race and we were trying to keep up things. The track was a different animal for me, going from loose to push and back to loose. I'm a rookie and I need to learn all of the changes throughout a race like this. I was changing things in the cockpit today that I had never done before. I was stepping outside my comfortable zone with an Indy car. But that is part of being a professional driver. I know I will improve on that throughout the rest of the year."

ROGER YASUKAWA (No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished 18th): "I saw the No. 2 spinning and got on the brakes. I went high to try to get around Jaques, but I had nowhere to go and hit both the wall and Jaques pretty hard. It's unfortunate for the team because we were looking good and working on a top-10 finish."

A.J. FOYT IV (No. 14 ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, finished 12th): "It was a long day, but the ABC car was good, all day. We just made minor adjustments, but we couldn't keep up with the draft."

***

The 10th season of IndyCar Series competition continues with the Amber Alert Portal Indy 300 on Aug. 13 at Kentucky Speedway. The race will be broadcast by ABC and the IMS Radio Network. The race broadcast will also be carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 152 (XM Extreme). The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series race is the Courier-Journal 100 on Aug. 12 at Kentucky Speedway. The race will be telecast on ESPN2 at 5 p.m. (EDT) on Aug. 18.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Buddy Lazier , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Townsend Bell , Dan Wheldon , Roger Yasukawa , Kosuke Matsuura , Chip Ganassi , A.J. Foyt , Jim Beam , Sam Hornish Jr. , Jaques Lazier
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing