IRL: Michigan: Series race report

KANAAN WINS ACCIDENT-FILLED FIRESTONE INDY 400 BROOKLYN, Mich., Sunday, Aug. 5, 2007 -- Tony Kanaan edged his Andretti Green Racing teammate Marco Andretti by 0.0595 of a second to score his third victory of the season at the Firestone Indy 400...

KANAAN WINS ACCIDENT-FILLED FIRESTONE INDY 400

BROOKLYN, Mich., Sunday, Aug. 5, 2007 -- Tony Kanaan edged his Andretti Green Racing teammate Marco Andretti by 0.0595 of a second to score his third victory of the season at the Firestone Indy 400 at Michigan International Speedway, a race that was delayed by four hours, 37 minutes by rain.

Scott Sharp finished a season-high third in the No. 8 Patron Rahal Letterman Racing car. Kosuke Matsuura also posted a season high (tying his career best) of fourth in the No. 55 Panasonic Panther Racing car, and Buddy Rice advanced 12 positions to finish fifth in the No. 15 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing entry. Those two were mostly the result of attrition. A spectacular crash on Lap 144 involving seven cars -- including IndyCar Series points leader Dario Franchitti and his closest pursuer, Scott Dixon -- partially eclipsed the results of the Firestone Indy 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

With Franchitti taking the outside line in overtaking race leader Dan Wheldon on the backstretch, the cars touched wheels and Franchitti's No. 27 Canadian Club entry became airborne, landing upside down on the asphalt. With nowhere to turn, the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing driven by Dixon and the No. 22 Vision Racing car driven by A.J. Foyt IV ran into (under actually) the No. 27 car.

The debris field and spinning cars also caught up the cars driven by Sam Hornish Jr., Ed Carpenter and Tomas Scheckter. Two laps earlier, Scheckter's No. 2 Vision Racing car was 0.0538 of a second behind race leader Wheldon.

Dixon returned to the race long enough to move ahead of Franchitti, who finished 13th, in the results. But with Franchitti gaining the three bonus points for leading a race-high 101 laps, he retained a 24-point lead headed to the twilight race in six days at Kentucky Speedway.

FIRESTONE INDY 400 POST-RACE NOTES:

* This is Tony Kanaan's third win of the season and his 10th career IndyCar Series victory. His last win was in June at the Milwaukee Mile.

* This is Andretti Green Racing's 29th win in the IndyCar Series, the most by any entrant in the IndyCar Series.

* Marco Andretti finished second, matching his season-best finish. He previously finished second at Iowa.

* Scott Sharp finished third, matching his season-best finish. He previously finished second at Iowa.

* Kosuke Matsuura finished fourth, his best finish this season and tied for his career-best finish. He last finished fourth at Kentucky in 2004.

* Buddy Rice finished fifth, his third top-five finish of the season.

FIRESTONE INDY 400 POST-RACE QUOTES:

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, winner Firestone Indy 400): "First of all I want to thank all the fans who stayed around the whole day for the race. From a fan standpoint they had a lot of action. It certainly was not a boring race. It's sad we are leaving. It was a crazy day. We need to go home and think about how we race each other. The cars are safe, but we are very lucky. What I saw out there was not pretty. Thank God I was behind at that point. I got chopped off by someone and ended up in the back. I was behind the whole thing. For the first time it paid off to be nearly last. There were no team orders. I was thinking it was going to be a good day. It was either going to be me or him (Marco) who was going to win the race. I held my line and he tried on the outside a few times but I think I had a little bit faster car. We played well. And that is the beauty of having good teammates. Today was my day."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 NYSE Group Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished second): "It was an eventful day for the NYSE team today. The balance was really good, but the car was just way too slow. We came in and took the diffuser off and went all the way to the back of the field. That made a difference for us. We just didn't have enough speed like we had in a big pack at the end to get by TK (Tony Kanaan). Overall, though, I think it showed that we can win any of these races the rest of this season."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Patron Sharp Rahal Letterman Racing, finished third): "It was a wild day for us. Really, really busy in the cockpit. The racing line moved up as it always does here and that worked for us a bit because we set the car up to run in the third and fourth grooves. The only time I got beat was down low - until the end. At the end, we could run down low and it helped us earn our podium spot and some big points in the standings." (About Lap 143 crash): "I was looking to my sides to see how the crash would develop when suddenly (Sam) Hornish's rear wing was right there in front of me. I hit him pretty hard but I hit him straight-on with the nose of the car, which luckily is the strongest point of the car. I thought we would have more damage than we did, but our guys took care of it and we got back in the fight."

KOSUKE MATSUURA (No. 55 Panasonic Panther Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished fourth): "It's been a long time for me to finish this strong. It was the same result as Kentucky in 2004 and to do it a second time with Super Aguri Panther Racing is awesome. I was fighting with (Scott) Sharp for third position, but I just couldn't get by him. We needed just a little bit more speed in the Panasonic car. The crew guys did a great job as well all day and this race meant a lot for me. This is awesome."

BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished fifth): "I didn't have a very fast car. It's kinda like Iowa. Again, I just tried to stay out of trouble. The one thing I can say is that as we fine-tuned on our car, we progressively moved up to the pack. We were slowly but surely getting competitive. We didn't really have a top-five car like we got today, but sometimes you just need a little bit of help and a little bit of luck like we did today and you come out with a really decent finish. It's just the perseverance of DRR and what we've been able to do so far. We're definitely improving."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol, finished sixth): "This was a learning day for me. We changed our car all throughout the weekend looking for the sweet spot and we think we made some big gains. I knew it was going to be a long race so early on, I settled in and worked on establishing a rhythm. Things were starting to build for us, but about midway through the race we developed a problem with the car and we would lose straight-line speed once it got warm. That kept us from contending, but the Ethanol team showed what it was made of today and we came out of here with some good points."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished seventh): "It's so frustrating. It's not that often that you get a shot like this to win a race. The Motorola guys did such a good job. We were good in the pits; we were smart with our strategy. My team is great and the Motorola car will win a race soon. I really think we had the car to win the race today, but we didn't and it is very frustrating."

A.J. FOYT IV (No. 22 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished eighth): "It's unfortunate we got caught up in that stuff, but the whole Vision Racing operation did a great job of fixing my car and getting me back out there. The car was still pretty quick after we got it back out, and I radioed to my guys to tell them I had the best seat in the house. I was still enjoying it, but we decided to stop before the end because we were able to move up as high as we could, and we didn't want to get in anyone else's way. So, it was a better ending than I thought we would have after that accident, but I still wish we could have avoided that crash."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished ninth): "We had problems with the weightjacker early on in the race, and we just tried to make adjustments throughout the day to try and improve it. We got to a point where we were pretty comfortable, but unfortunately, I got involved in that big accident. I thought I was free and clear, but I ended up getting rear ended. It's a shame because it seems like every time we have a chance to make up some points, something like that goes wrong. The good thing today was that Team Penske worked hard out there to get us back out and we were able to make up a few spots and earn some valuable points. I really have to hand it to them, they did a great job turning a bad situation around a bit."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished 10th): "Racing at Michigan is racing at a restrictor-plate race in NASCAR. I tried to get past Dario (Franchitti), he just ended up on top of me. The Target team did a great job getting the car back together so we could get back out there and finish ahead of Dario. It keeps the points the same as it was coming in, so it's like this race never happened."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Canadian Club Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We touched and the next thing I knew I was upside down going backward. I thought, 'This isn't good.' I'm glad everyone is OK. I said to Scott (Dixon), 'We have to stop meeting like that.' We've been running side-by-side in so many races recently. When I stopped and realized I was in one piece, I couldn't believe it. I'm a lucky guy."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 4 Delphi Panther Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I've got my point of view, and he's got his point of view. From my point of view, he moved. If you ask him for his point of view, he's going to say whatever he thinks. We're both men enough to first analyze what happened and then discuss it. Helio's always been pretty good, and I've always been good with him. It's on to the next race."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "The incident out there today was very unfortunate because the Team Penske car was awesome. I have a lot of respect for Vitor and his driving abilities, but I think he was being a little too aggressive for so early in the race. Unfortunately, we touched, and it resulted in a short day for both of us. Hopefully, we'll be able to rebound next week in Kentucky."

***

The next IndyCar Series event is the Meijer Indy 300 presented by Edy's and Coca-Cola at 6:30 p.m. (ET) on Aug. 11 at Kentucky Speedway. The race will be televised live by ESPN2 and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. The next Indy Pro Series event is the Kentucky 100 on Aug.11 at Kentucky Speedway. The race will be broadcast at 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 16.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Scott Sharp , A.J. Foyt IV , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Buddy Rice , Marco Andretti , Kosuke Matsuura , Chip Ganassi , Sam Hornish Jr. , Ed Carpenter
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing