IRL: Milwaukee: Race report

Franchitti Records First Victory WEST ALLIS, Wis., Sunday, July 25, 2004 -- Dario Franchitti claimed his first IRL IndyCar Series victory winning the Menards A.J. Foyt Indy 225 July 25 at The Milwaukee Mile. Franchitti, who took the lead from...

Franchitti Records First Victory

WEST ALLIS, Wis., Sunday, July 25, 2004 -- Dario Franchitti claimed his first IRL IndyCar Series victory winning the Menards A.J. Foyt Indy 225 July 25 at The Milwaukee Mile.

Franchitti, who took the lead from Sam Hornish Jr. on lap 155, led the final 70 laps of the 225-lap event and held off Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice by .6590 of a second for the win.

"I thought we had the car today to beat (Rice)," said Franchitti, driver of the No. 27 ArcaEx Dallara/Honda/Firestone. "I just wanted to make sure I got that last restart right, and we did. The car was fantastic all day. It went off a bit as the run went on, but not as much as other people. I think the engineers got it right. Nothing went wrong today."

Franchitti became the fifth winner in the IndyCar Series this year, joining his Andretti Green Racing teammates Tony Kanaan and Dan Wheldon, Rice and Hornish as 2004 race winners.

Defending IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon did not compete in the Menards A.J. Foyt Indy 225 on the advice of Dr. Henry Bock, IRL senior director of medical services.

Dixon sustained a chipped bone in his right thumb and a severely sprained left ankle in a pair of accidents on July 24. Dixon, who is currently sixth in IndyCar Series points, qualified 14th and will be credited with a 22nd-place finish.

MENARDS A.J. FOYT INDY 225 POST-RACE NOTES:

This is Andretti Green Racing's sixth win this season. Tony Kanaan (three) and Dan Wheldon (two) have recorded the team's other victories.

Tony Kanaan finished fourth, his eighth consecutive top-five finish, a new Indy Racing League record. Kanaan previously shared the record of seven consecutive top-five finishes with Dan Wheldon, Sam Hornish Jr. and Helio Castroneves.

This is the 42nd IndyCar Series race with a margin of victory of one second or less.

MENARDS A.J. FOYT INDY 225 POST-RACE QUOTES:

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 ArcaEx Dallara/Honda/Firestone) (About the race): "I've got to try to remember it all first. It wasn't the best start I've ever made, but it was clean. When we put new tires on, the car really came to life at that point, and I started moving through the field, passing (Sam) Hornish (Jr.) and those guys. At that point, the car was working really, really well. I was able to get through traffic nicely. Had a bit of a problem with the backmarkers, but some of the backmarkers were excellent today, just a couple of problems. On the last pit stop, I think Hornish beat us out, and I don't know what he was doing on the restart. There's a certain speed you're supposed to go, and he was doing, like, 50 miles an hour or something and checking everybody up, so there was a no-start. On the second start, he just kept coming down, trying to squeeze me. I was lucky the car was as good as it was. I was able to accelerate hard on the inside, get past him and get a nice lead."

BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Racing Pioneer Argent Panoz G Force/Honda/ Firestone): "Finishing in the top three is always a good deal. I don't see why second is so bad. It's really good. It's looking good in the points right now. It's good for Rahal Letterman. We're doing exactly what we need to do: marching forward. Both Dario (Franchitti) and I were struggling down in (Turns) 1 and 2 and were both real strong in (Turns) 3 and 4. It's just the way it goes. We needed it to stay green all the way through, and it would have been very good. That's just the way it goes. It's an excellent day right now."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "I could be a little bit happier. The guys did a great job in the pits, and the car was prepared well. I just didn't have enough for Dario (Franchitti), but Buddy (Rice) and I were real close. I just got a little loose once and got up in the gray trying to keep everything under control and he got by me. That's part of racing." (About lap 154 restart): "When you have a second chance (at a restart), then you have a lot better shot at it. I don't know why it was waived off, but that's the bad part of the deal. I don't know if I could hold (Franchitti) off, because we were a little too loose at the end."

ALEX BARRON (No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "The highlight of the weekend was obviously the race, and at the end of the day, we can say we had a good result. Our pit stops were flawless in the race, and our data guys made some great calls. I think today was a good step heading into Michigan next weekend."

TOWNSEND BELL (No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "We'll take top Chevy. We had some miscommunication on our first pit stop, fell back to the back of the field, and then picked off a few spots once we were running again. The Panther guys battled back, and we had a great next couple of stops that got us back in the hunt. Then we just tucked it in, a lot like Nashville, and turned some laps. I got out of the groove at one point and lost a spot to (Vitor) Meira, but we had plenty of power to hang in there. I think that last restart was a handful for everybody. I was slipping around all over the place, but we held on for sixth, and that's a great finish for the entire Menards/Johns Manville team."

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (No. 5 Quaker State Telmex Tecate Panoz G Force/Honda/ Firestone): "It was a difficult race. There were not many good cars out there. My car was OK on my own. I was not very good in traffic. I could hold on there, but I was very bad on the restarts. I almost lost it a few times, so it was difficult in that respect. I was just trying to hang on. I had some traffic that I couldn't get around like other people could because as soon as I got close to other guys, I really got a lot of push, and then, on the exit, a lot of looseness. That really prevented us from getting to the front. I don't think Tony Kanaan, for example, had a better car than us, but I think he was working a little bit better in traffic than us."

KOSUKE MATSUURA (No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "I think we did a pretty good race. The problem was the starting position because we were last. I didn't know how the car was going to be, and I was waiting the first 50 laps to feel the car. When I knew the car was good, I could push in the second stint. The second stint was quite good, but the third stint, I was very disappointed. The front wing was broken. The left-front flap was down, and I had a big understeer. We started in the last row and we finished in the top 10 with not a perfect car, and that is good result. On Friday, I broke the (primary) car completely, and I finished the race today. I had a couple of really good restarts and overtook maybe three or four cars. I think we have a lot of motivation for the Michigan race."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "It was really a weird day. We had a good start to the race, good pit stops and we were able to lead. The Marlboro Team Penske car was handling pretty well; the only place we had a little trouble was in Turns 3 and 4. Unfortunately, about two-thirds of the way through the race, we lost power under yellow-flag conditions. We're not sure what happened, but we were able to push start the car. We went a lap down, so we stayed out under the yellow when the field made their stops so we could get back on the lead lap. Our strategy at that point was to run as long as we could and hope for a yellow so we could make our stop. It ended up that we had to pit under green and ultimately finished three laps down. Given everything, we at least got to put points on the board and maintain fourth place in the championship."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Centrix Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "The first set of tires didn't work as well as we wanted, but after that, the tires were good. On new tires, we were very good. I had a big push at the start when I was by myself. Then in traffic, the car went loose. I had a handful for many laps today, but we had a fifth-place car, and I almost got Tony (Kanaan) at the end. So we'll today take fifth and go to Michigan and Kentucky, and I know we'll be fast there. We're moving up in the points, too. We're tied for seventh, and we missed two races. Man, there were so many close calls out there today, both for myself and with other cars. A lot of guys were just hanging on in the corners. I know I was on several times. I had to pedal the car a lot to straighten it up, but at the end, we were able to come back and race. The Centrix crew was fast today, too. That helped us. I'm glad we are improving with our short-track setup. We know we are good on the big tracks, and they are coming up, too."

BRYAN HERTA: (No. 7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We decided to gamble early on because we thought there would be more yellows here. Milwaukee usually produces more than today. It was nice to lead some laps during that stretch. The car was obviously good in clean air, but we didn't catch the yellow when we needed to and lost a lap. But I would much rather do what we did today than drive around all day and finish fifth or sixth. I'm glad we went for the win."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It was a long, tough race, but seeing Dario (Franchitti) win today was a win for me. That guy has been through so much, and he deserves this, so I'm very happy for him. For me, we just didn't have the car to win today, but we scored some good points. When we can't win, that is what we have to focus on, and today we got everything we could for Team 7-Eleven."

DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It's a shame because the car was certainly better than it was in qualifying ,and we were just slowly working our way through. The Klein Tools/Jim Beam crew worked really hard on this race, and it's just a disappointing way to end. We'll look forward to Michigan. The Honda engines are very strong, and the team will give us a great car there, so we're looking forward to it."

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Buddy Rice , A.J. Foyt , Jim Beam , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Team Penske