IRL: Nashville: AGR, Kanaan race report

LEBANON, Tenn. (July 17, 2004) -Team 7-Eleven driver Tony Kanaan may not have had the fastest car of the night, but he put the ...

LEBANON, Tenn. (July 17, 2004) -Team 7-Eleven driver Tony Kanaan may not have had the fastest car of the night, but he put the #11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone in front when it counted, as he earned his third victory of the season Saturday night in the Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar® Series Firestone Indy 200 at Nashville Superspeedway.

Sam Hornish Jr. was second, while Helio Castroneves was credited with third place.

Kanaan, who qualified for the event in the fifth position on the grid, spent the majority of the race in third place while trying to maintain contact with the Team Rahal tandem of Vitor Meira and Buddy Rice.

Meira, who led the first 113 laps of the 200-lap event, saw his opportunity to win dashed by a miscue during a pit stop on lap 114. Buddy Rice then inherited the lead and paced the field until a full-field pit sequence occurred under yellow flag conditions on lap 166.

Dan Wheldon, opting to take on fuel only, exited the pits at the front of the pack and led the race from lap 166 until he was struck by the car of Rice on lap 179.  The contact caused Rice to drop from second to sixth place, while Wheldon momentarily maintained his lead.

When the field went green on lap 182, Kanaan made his move, diving low under Wheldon to take a lead he would not relinquish. The caution flag flew one final time on lap 185 when Wheldon suffered a cut tire as a result of the previous contact. The race went green on lap 188 and Kanaan led the final 12 laps, holding off a last-lap charge by Hornish to take the victory.

The victory allowed Kanaan to increase his IndyCar Series points lead over Klein Tools/Jim Beam teammate Dan Wheldon to 61 points (325-264).

Kanaan and the rest of the IndyCar Series teams return to action next week at The Milwaukee Mile for the Menards AJ Foyt Indy 225. The event will be televised live by ABC Sports, beginning at 3:30 EDT.

Tony Kanaan, #11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone: @"We were struggling in the beginning of the race and struggling at the end, too. I was just trying to put the Team 7-Eleven car in the top three and ended up with the win, so I'll take it. It was a very aggressive race. Some of the moves were maybe too aggressive. Everyone was driving aggressive, including me. I saw some crazy stuff going on. Races like this, where it's tough to pass people, are hard. I have said that I'm going to take each race as it comes. It's way too early to be thinking about the championship, other than to just try and get the maximum number of points from each race. That's what I managed to do tonight, and that will be what we'll try to do next week in Milwaukee."

Kim Green, President, Andretti Green Racing: @"We probably didn't have the fasted race car today, but you can't give up.  You have to keep working hard to improve the car as you go. It was a very competitive race, but we had very good pit stops in some critical situations. At times, it was a little bit of a contact sport. It was just a great win for Tony (Kanaan), a great effort by everybody working to make the cars as fast as possible. We still have a lot of work to do over the rest of the year. With so many races over the next few weeks, we have to make sure and maintain our focus and keep doing what we're doing."

-agr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Buddy Rice , Kim Green , Jim Beam , Sam Hornish Jr. , Vitor Meira