IRL: Michigan: Race report

CASTRONEVES GRABS POINT LEAD WITH FOURTH WIN OF 2006 BROOKLYN, Mich., Sunday, July 30, 2006 -- A mechanical malfunction and a miscalculation -- plus Helio Castroneves' fourth victory of the season -- gave the Marlboro Team Penske driver the ...

CASTRONEVES GRABS POINT LEAD WITH FOURTH WIN OF 2006

BROOKLYN, Mich., Sunday, July 30, 2006 -- A mechanical malfunction and a miscalculation -- plus Helio Castroneves' fourth victory of the season -- gave the Marlboro Team Penske driver the IndyCar Series point lead. Castroneves, driving the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Honda-powered Dallara, defeated Vitor Meira by 1.6229 seconds to win the Firestone Indy 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Reigning IndyCar Series champion Dan Wheldon finished third, followed by Tony Kanaan and Tomas Scheckter. Castroneves has 376 points heading to Kentucky Speedway on Aug. 13. Teammate Sam Hornish Jr. fell to second with 368, while Wheldon has 359. Wheldon's Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, Scott Dixon, is 14 points behind. Meira is fifth with 320.

Hornish's and Dixon's points totals were compromised early in the 200-lap race. Hornish's No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone checked into the pits on Lap 49 after falling to 10th position. He rejoined the fray in 17th spot (one lap down) before returning to the pits on Lap 59. Hornish came in for the final time on Lap 73. Running second to Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Dan Wheldon on Lap 43, Dixon's No. 9 Honda-powered Dallara slowed on the course and stopped in Turn 4 deprived of fuel on Lap 44. He fell to 18th after being towed to his pit stall, and could make up only one spot the remainder of the race.

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At a press conference this afternoon, Investment Properties of America, has become an associate marketing partner with A.J. Foyt Enterprises for the final four races of the 2006 IndyCar Series season, beginning today with the Firestone Indy 400. The No. 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone driven by Jeff Bucknum will carry the logos of companies affiliated with Investment Properties of America, including Montauk Financial Group, Crossroads Transportation and Logistics, BarterOne and Security 1031 Services.

ED OKUN (Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Investment Properties of America): "A.J. is a living legend, a four-time Indy (500) winner. As a former driver, he is more experienced than any other manager out there. His knowledge of cars and ability to see the track gives him an amazing advantage over others relying on computers. A.J. knows more about motorsports than anyone, and we are proud to be part of his organization."

A.J. FOYT (Owner, A.J. Foyt Enterprises): "It's great to have Investment Properties of America join our team. When I met Ed earlier this year, we really hit it off. He is a no-nonsense kind of guy. We began talking about working together, and he decided to give it a try."

(About developing his team): "I've been making a lot of changes in our team, and I'm going to continue to change things until we get back to running up front like we used to."

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IndyCar Series drivers Helio Castroneves and Vitor Meira passed time in the garage area by holding an impromptu autograph session with fans gathered outside their transporters.

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The last IndyCar Series race delayed by rain was the 2004 Indianapolis 500, which was delayed 2 hours, 10 minutes by rain. The last time an IndyCar Series race was postponed by rain was the June 2000 event at Texas Motor Speedway.

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This is the 10th IndyCar Series event to have its start delayed by rain. The 2-hour, 30-minute delay was the fifth-longest delay in series history.

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FIRESTONE INDY 400 POST-RACE NOTES:

This is Helio Castroneves' fourth win this season and the 11th win of his IndyCar Series career. His last win came at Texas Motor Speedway in June. Castroneves also won at St. Petersburg and Twin Ring Motegi.

Castroneves' average speed was 193.972 mph, the fastest IndyCar Series event at Michigan International Speedway and the third-fastest race in IndyCar Series history.

This is Marlboro Team Penske's seventh win this season and its 22nd win in the IndyCar Series. The team tied Andretti Green Racing as the winningest-team in the IndyCar Series. It is the team's first win at MIS in the IndyCar Series and its first win at MIS since 1991.

Vitor Meira finished second for the third time this season, his sixth top-five finish this season. Meira has finished second seven times in his IndyCar Series career.

Dan Wheldon finished third, his sixth top-five finish of the season.

Jeff Simmons finished 10th, his fourth-consecutive top-10 finish.

FIRESTONE INDY 400 POST-RACE QUOTES:

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, winner Firestone Indy 400): "I started flying like a maniac at the end. I was very aggressive. With 10 (laps) to go, I thought everything was good, but I saw an orange dot in my mirror, and I couldn't believe he (Vitor Meira) caught us like that."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 4 Revive Panther Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished second): "Panther Racing gave 102 percent today. We are doing it week in and week out at any track with any aero configuration. This is what makes champions, and winners and that's what we have here at Panther Racing. Everything is working. I really have to thank Honda, Firestone, Revive, Dallara, everybody. Without their help, we wouldn't be here today.

DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished third): "Chip (Ganassi) said we were half-a-mile an hour off speed from the front two cars. It's unfortunate for Sam (Hornish Jr.) because he seems to have some bad luck, and I'm not sure why he went down. It's always disappointing to see somebody go out like that, but at the same time we made up points. I think we got the best out of what we had today. We just weren't quite good enough. I'm not saying that we didn't put the effort in. Certainly, everybody at Chip Ganassi Racing worked very, very hard. Scott (Dixon) helped me at the end, and I appreciate that."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished fourth): "I don't think Team 7-Eleven had the car to win, but we had a car to finish third. Ganassi put (Scott) Dixon between Dan (Wheldon) and myself. They are going for a championship and we are going for race wins. We have two superspeedway races remaining and AGR has four cars for the payback. We've been struggling on the superspeedways this year and we're still a little behind. But fourth is better than we've been and we'll keep working."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 2 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished fifth): We had a good car today and Ed (Carpenter) ended up finishing well which is great. We'll go back and see if we can do anything a bit better, but everyone did great at Vision (Racing) and it's another top five (finish). Coming off of the last couple of races we just need to make sure we keep the momentum going."

(Is the close racing frustrating): "Most of the time what we're trying to do there is almost do a little bump drafting. Everytime I tried to pass it would just slow down more so I just tried to work with my teammate. We just had a strategy to stay together today and we did and it's a good day for Vision Racing."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished sixth): "It was a good day, a good finish. The entire Delphi Fernandez team just did a really good job and I think we made the most out of what we had today. Overall, it seems that we were a little down on speed and were sliding around a bit. J.D. [John Dick, race engineer] and the crew made some good changes to the car and got us better and better. Tom [Anderson, team owner/managing director] made a good call to short fill the car to get us out of a pack that we were faster than but stuck in. Once we had smooth sailing, we were able to reel in some people and really get pulled along with some good drafts."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 NYSE Group Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished eighth): "I think this was the best result we could have had unless we would have had a late yellow. It seemed like the NYSE car was quickest in a big group. I needed more than one car in front of me to be fast. We were a sitting duck on our own which was a bummer. But, even though we didn't really think we had a car to win that race at the start of the day, a late yellow could have put us in contention, believe it or not."

JEFF SIMMONS (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol Dallara/Honda/ Firestone, finished 10th): "Early in the race, it was a little frustrating because Danica (Patrick), Marco (Andretti), and I couldn't get up to the lead pack and in their draft. But we made a couple of changes on the first pit stop, and the car felt much better. Some of the drivers wanted to race side-by-side today, and that hurt us catching up to the leaders. The fastest way to get to the lead pack was to run single file. The Team Ethanol guys had some great stops today, and I was very happy how the team worked to get us back up and racing in the top 10. At the end, it was pretty wild and guys were fighting for position in every corner. It was pretty much every driver for themselves and that happens in a big track like MIS. It is good to get another top ten today but I was thinking we would have a chance for a top five. Our car wasn't too far different that the cars that finish sixth through ninth. It was a big chess game at the end. "

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished 19th): "The Marlboro Team Penske car was handling well and I thought we had a really good chance to win the race. I'm not exactly sure what happened, but I know it was an issue with the engine. We'll have to use the next few days to take a look at it and see if we can figure out what caused the problem. It's a shame to end a day like that, but that's how it goes sometimes. I'm also disappointed that it happened here because we had so many people come out to cheer us on and I'm sorry we didn't give them a better show. Now we just have to move past this and look ahead to the final three races of the season and try and earn as many points as we can."

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Today's race began under a running yellow conditions. It is the first IndyCar Series event to start under those conditions since Oct. 11, 1997, when the race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway started under yellow because of cold and wind.

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ABC Sports' coverage of the Firestone Indy 400 will be telecast at 2 p.m. (EDT) on Monday, July 31 by ESPN2. The next IndyCar Series event is the Meijer Indy 300 presented by Coca-Cola and Secret at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) on Aug. 13 at Kentucky Speedway. The race will be telecast live by ABC Sports and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPN Deportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 145 "IndyCar Racing" and www.indycar.com. The fifth season of Indy Pro Series competition continues with the Kentucky 100 on August 13 at Kentucky Speedway.

-irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Jeff Bucknum , Jeff Simmons , Chip Ganassi , A.J. Foyt , Sam Hornish Jr. , Vitor Meira
Teams A.J. Foyt Enterprises , Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing