Marco Makes His Mark at Infineon Raceway Marco Andretti saved fuel when he could, and ran hard when he needed in winning the Infineon Indy Grand Prix Sunday in Sonoma, California. His achievement made Andretti the youngest race winner in...
Marco Makes His Mark at Infineon Raceway
Marco Andretti saved fuel when he could, and ran hard when he needed in winning the Infineon Indy Grand Prix Sunday in Sonoma, California. His achievement made Andretti the youngest race winner in major American open-wheel racing history for Andretti Green Racing, and secured series Rookie of the Year honors.
It was likewise a excellent event for Honda and the HI6R Indy V-8 engine, with 18 drivers and teams logging more than 5,873 miles during the three-day race weekend without a single reported failure.
Starting on the outside of the front row, Andretti raced second to pole qualifier Scott Dixon for much of the first half of the 80-lap contest on the hilly, twisting road course located approximately 40 miles north of San Francisco. Then, during a caution period on Lap 45, Andretti's Kyle Moyer-led AGR team elected to make an out-of-sequence pit stop, and run the rest of the day on a single tank of fuel. Andretti rejoined in eighth place, conserved fuel until the other leading contenders made their final pit stops, then raced home ahead of teammate Dario Franchitti for the win.
At 19 years, 5 months and 14 days, Andretti broke the record for youngest IndyCar-style race winner by one year and five months. The mark was previously held by Scott Dixon when he won a CART Champ Car race at Nazareth Speedway in 2001 at 20 years, 5 months and 14 days. Andretti also is the first new IndyCar Series race winner since Adrian Fernandez won for Honda and his own team at Kentucky Speedway in 2004.
With more fuel at his disposal, Franchitti charged hard in the final laps, but came up six-tenths of a second short for his best finish of the 2006 season. Vitor Meira was third, his sixth top-three result this year, while Dixon's effort was blunted by a long final pit stop when his Target Chip Ganassi crew had problems changing the left front tire. He finished fourth. Helio Castroneves took over a the championship points lead with a fifth place run, followed by defending series champion Dan Wheldon in sixth.
With just the 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway oval remaining in the season, Castroneves has moved back into the series championship lead by just a single point over teammate Sam Hornish Jr. Defending series champion Wheldon is third, 19 points behind, with his teammate Dixon just two more points further back in fourth.
The championship will be decided among these four final contenders at the Chicagoland Indy 300 on Sunday, September 10.