IRL: Michigan: Race report

Rice Nips Kanaan At Michigan BROOKLYN, Mich., Sunday, Aug. 1, 2004 -- Buddy Rice beat pole sitter Tony Kanaan to the finish line by 0.0796 of a second to win the Michigan Indy 400 at the two-mile Michigan International Speedway. he average...

Rice Nips Kanaan At Michigan

BROOKLYN, Mich., Sunday, Aug. 1, 2004 -- Buddy Rice beat pole sitter Tony Kanaan to the finish line by 0.0796 of a second to win the Michigan Indy 400 at the two-mile Michigan International Speedway.

he average speed of 182.123 mph is the fourth-fastest in IRL IndyCar® Series history. It was the third victory of the season for Rice, who was the runner-up to Dario Franchitti on July 25 at The Milwaukee Mile.

Kanaan, who has three IndyCar Series victories this season, led 184 laps but was passed by Rice on Lap 190. They dueled the final 10 laps, racing side by side on portions of Laps 198 and 199, before Rice made the final move.

Kanaan's Andretti Green Racing teammate, Dan Wheldon, was third and Marlboro Team Penske's Sam Hornish Jr. fourth. Vitor Meira, Rice's Rahal Letterman Racing teammate, finished fifth.

Panther Racing crew member Steve Namisnak sustained a fractured right tibia in a pit road incident. He was being transported to Indianapolis for further treatment.

Michigan Indy 400 Post-Race Notes:

Second-place finisher Tony Kanaan recorded his ninth top-five finish of the season.

This is the third race with a margin of victory of less than one-tenth of a second. It is the 43rd IndyCar Series race with a margin of victory of less than a second.

Michigan Indy 400 Post-Race Quotes:

BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Racing Pioneer Argent Panoz G Force/Honda/ Firestone): "I don't think I could have hit the gas any harder. It was on the floor all the way. I had enough for (Tony Kanaan). I got around him and that's all that mattered. We saved enough fuel, and it all seemed to work out. The awesome pit stops we had made this happen. The Honda/(Panoz) G-Force combination is the combination to have. All the work the Rahal Letterman guys do on the team is what makes this happen. The fuel strategy our team was able to make is what made it all play out the way it did today. We knew Tony would be strong. He's been strong all weekend. I could tell he was trying to save fuel. You can tell, pretty obviously, when somebody is running low on fuel. I was definitely looking for it. I have no idea if they were telling him (Kanaan) to move over. I knew fuel wasn't going to be an issue for us."

DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "There are a lot of people getting aggressive out there, I think more than there should be. Buddy's (Rice) been real strong lately. Andretti Green Racing has got to keep him from winning. Full credit to that team. Buddy and Vitor (Meira) have been doing a good job. We have to raise our game." (About conserving fuel): "I just did my own thing and did what I was told today."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Centrix Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "We had a flat tire, we had a bent front wing and we had an accident in the pits. Everyone changed the tire and the wing real quick, and that's what I call teamwork. That's the Centrix philosophy, that's the Rahal Letterman philosophy. Everybody wants to win. (Teammate) Buddy (Rice) wants to win, and I wanted to win, but my day's going to come. I was pushing as hard as I could. When the wing was bent, the car was really loose, and we were just hanging on. I was really pushing, but everybody was pretty crazy there in the last 10 laps, which is normal."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 1 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Honda/ Firestone): "It was a bit more of a struggle at the start, but I had a very decent car on the last stint, and the Toyota/Panoz G Force ran strong at the front. We really thought that we were going to finish it strong with both (teammate) Darren (Manning) and I right up there, but (Tomas) Scheckter, who was laps down, got in the mix. We were really trying to get by him, but I didn't have any room and got pinched in Turn 4 with Darren on the outside. That hurt momentum, and it was too late by then. It's too bad but there are a lot of positives we can take from this weekend and build on that for the coming weeks."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone) "We gave it all we had today, and at least we were able to bring it home in fourth. I've got to thank my Marlboro Team Penske crew for doing a great job. They executed perfect pit stops all day. I've also got to thank Firestone for giving us a very competitive tire. We had a good handling car and were able to run in the top five most of the day. We wanted to make sure we stayed in the draft and kept ourselves in a position for a run at the end. We just didn't have quite enough to catch the leaders. It was a battlefield out there, and we worked our butts off all day. I cringed for about three-quarters of the laps. As far as the championship goes, it's tough because we were able to beat one of the guys ahead of us but finished behind the other three guys that are leading in the points. We'll keep at it and see what happens in Kentucky."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/ Firestone): "The Marlboro Team Penske car handled well today, and it's a shame we weren't able to finish in the top five. We started from the back and were able to pick our way through the field and run with the lead pack for most of the day. Unfortunately, there were a couple of incidents in front of me towards the end of the race, and I wound up finishing 10th. The good news is that we took big steps this weekend, and our car was competitive on the superspeedway. The Toyota looked stronger, and the team has really been working hard. There's still work to be done, but hopefully, we'll continue progressing through the end of the season."

TOWNSEND BELL (No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "Another consistent finish, and we ran well on the lead lap. In the beginning of the race, we were really struggling. The car was moving around a lot in traffic, and the balance just wasn't right at times. The middle of the race was probably the best for the Menards/Johns Manville car, and that's when we felt the best in traffic. The Panther guys had a couple great stops there late. We put some front wing in and were solid there at the finish and picked up some positions. It's great to have Panther as the top Chevrolet again."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We were running well, and our Chevy was the car to beat today. We could get through traffic with no problem. It was another one of those great cars that the Pennzoil Panther guys put together. We were running second when we had to make our first stop. Unfortunately, the guy pitted behind me was sent out too early and ran into the back of me. Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt, but it definitely cost us time on the track. We ran our way up through the field several times today, and we could have been a top three car had we not had so many troubles. We've shown over and over that our Pennzoil Chevy is fast. We just need to get it together and complete one solid race."

ADRIÁN FERNÁNDEZ (No. 5 Quaker State/Telmex/Tecate Panoz G Force/Honda/ Firestone): "It was a tough day, and it was a shame because we had a good car. We were battling well on the race track, passing cars and having fun. I had an incident with Vitor Meira when I was coming out of the pits and he was coming in. Then when I was running third, I came into the pits under yellow and I came in too hot, hit the brakes and it spun me around. I hit one of (Kosuke Matsuura's) guys (Rhodri Griffiths, right front tire changer for Kosuke Matsuura), and I also screwed up Kosuke's pit stop. I got a penalty for that, which was a good call. Two mistakes unfortunately, but we learned from this."

KOSUKE MATSUURA (No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "I am very disappointed again. The first 150 laps were good. On my last pit stop, Adrian [Fernandez] spun in front of me, and I couldn't do anything. He hit my mechanic, who is OK, and I lost more than 10 seconds there. On the last stint, I was overtaking many cars to get back to the front of the pack. When I caught the pack, Helio (Castroneves) slowed down immediately because of another car and I couldn't avoid him. I touched Helio and damaged my left front wing and I had to pit. That was two mistakes. The team did a very good job, and a very good job on the pit stops. Hopefully, we will have a good weekend at the next race in Kentucky."

***

The next IndyCar Series event is the Belterra Casino Indy 300 at 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 15 at Kentucky Speedway. The race will be broadcast live on ABC and the IMS Radio Network. The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series event is the Kentucky 100 at 3 p.m. on Aug. 14 at Kentucky Speedway. The race will be broadcast by ESPN2 at 6 p.m. on Aug. 14.

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Buddy Rice , Kosuke Matsuura , Chip Ganassi , Jim Beam , Sam Hornish Jr. , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing