Disappointing Night Race for Target Team at Richmond
Richmond, Virginia, Saturday, June 24, 2006-- It was a disappointing evening for Target Chip Ganassi Racing at Richmond International Raceway as both Dan Wheldon and Scott Dixon were forced into the pits under green with less than 10 laps to the checkered flag for a splash of fuel, relegating them to a ninth and eleventh place finish respectively.
Sam Hornish Jr. took the lead early from his teammate, pole sitter Helio Castroneves, to lead 212 laps and the victory ahead of Vitor Meira and Dario Franchitti for his second race win of the season.
With less than 100 laps to go, Wheldon, who started fourth, battled his way back into the top five thanks in part to a short pit stop on lap 153, moving him up two positions. But what should have been his final stop of the race unfortunately was just a little too quick as the team gambled on the fuel number for the no.10 NicoDerm CQ car hoping for a caution period in the final stretch
"It's an unfortunate result for the NicoDerm CQ Target team tonight," said Wheldon. "The team short filled on what was supposed to be our last stop in the hopes of getting a yellow before the end. It simply came too late for us. It was a gamble that just didn't pay off and we paid a heavy price. The team will just have to shrug it off and keep working hard at it just as they have. The good thing is that from here on out we're just going to go for the win every race. As close as it is now, it should be an even more exciting finish to the end of the season."
Dixon faced a similar fate as he pitted with five laps to go. The caution the team had hoped for earlier ended up coming with just two laps left in the race when Helio Castroneves had a tire go down.
"Pretty disappointed really," said Dixon won battled in the top ten all evening long. I didn't think we were short on fuel but we had to come in for a splash at the end and that really hurt us. The car wasn't too bad and it was at least good enough for a top 5 finish, but not to finish in the top ten is disappointing."
"We found another way to beat ourselves," added Target team owner Chip Ganassi. "That just can't happen when you are battling for a Championship."
Helio Castroneves remains in the IndyCar Series Championship points lead with 252 points despite finishing in 11th place. With his second win of the year, Sam Hornish Jr. jumps into second spot with 247 points. Scott Dixon (229 points) drops to third place, trailing 23 points behind the leader while Wheldon (217) holds fourth place in the standings 35 points in arrears of the top spot.
The Target team's next stop will be the 1.5 mile Kansas Speedway, for the 200-lap/ 300-mile Kansas Indy 300 this upcoming Fourth of July weekend.