Concrete Results in Two Top Tens for Target Team in Tennessee Nashville, Tennessee, July 17th, 2004-- Target Chip Ganassi Racing had a concrete challenge on their hands as drivers Darren Manning and Scott Dixon took on the 1.33 mile oval at ...
Concrete Results in Two Top Tens for Target Team in Tennessee
Nashville, Tennessee, July 17th, 2004-- Target Chip Ganassi Racing had a concrete challenge on their hands as drivers Darren Manning and Scott Dixon took on the 1.33 mile oval at Nashville Superspeedway, the only concrete track on the IndyCar schedule, for the final twilight race of the 2004 season.
Because of the abrasive nature of the track surface, tire wear not only became an issue in how the race would play out, but it also left plenty of marbles (rubber deposits) to contend with when attempting a pass. However, after qualifying the no.10 Toyota/ Panoz G Force sixth for the Firestone Indy 200, Darren Manning waited patiently for his chance to make a charge towards the front, in what was to be another action packed race, riddled with contact and drama throughout its 200 laps. Manning's opportunity came with just 23 laps to go as he charged past seven cars on the outside line, moving from eleventh place to fourth in one quick move.
"The Target team did a great job on helping me improve the car for the first half of the race and that really paid off because I was able to find the speed on the high line so I gave it a go on the restart and drove on the outside of everybody." said Manning who ties his best career IndyCar finish with the fourth place finish (equaling his result at Motegi, Japan). "It was great. I thought I was going to come out in the lead if we had kept going. The Toyota /G Force was really strong and the reason we dropped so far back earlier on was partly because of Vitor Meira's move after a restart when he came through the field on the front straight and then came down rather suddenly in front of me in turn one. I backed out and that ended up dropping me back quite a ways. I'm very pleased with this fourth place finish and the Target team is looking to build on it."
Scott Dixon, who started right behind his Target teammate in eighth spot on the grid, had to contend with adversity early on in the race as he lost his clutch prior to his first pit stop, necessitating a little more time and some extra manpower from his crew to get him out of his pit box. After falling back to 15th place, the Target team took a gamble on a successive stop to not change tires to gain some valuable time and move Dixon up to seventh place. He nursed the tires as best he could but with just over 20 laps to go, the wear on the tires was just too much and the no.1 Toyota/ Panoz G Force was brought in for a new set.
"Considering some of the challenges we overcame throughout the race, I'll take the eighth place finish." said Dixon. "I realized that I had lost my clutch during that first yellow. The Target crew did a good job getting me out fast on each pit stop but it did set us back. I had a fair amount of understeer in traffic but the Toyota/ Panoz G Force improved throughout the race and we were able to race when we needed to. We took a gamble not to change our tires on what we thought would be our last stop and I made up a few positions that way but after one of those last restarts, I could see that the left rear was getting down to the cords so we came in for new tires. All in all, we're happy with our effort. We'll take all the positives and get set to improve on this result in Milwaukee."
Tony Kanaan held off Sam Hornish Jr. and Helio Castroneves for his third victory of the season at the Nashville's Firestone Indy 200, keeping him perched in top spot in the driver championship standings. Just one point now separate Target teammates Scott Dixon (188) and Darren Manning (187) in sixth and seventh place respectively in the hunt to defend the team's 2003 IndyCar championship.
Target Chip Ganassi Racing now gets set to take on the Milwaukee Mile for the inaugural Menards A.J. Foyt Indy 225 next weekend, the ninth race of the 2004 IndyCar season. Target fans can watch the race on ABC at 3:30 pm (EDT) Sunday, July 25th or they can listen in on the IMS Radio Network.