Castroneves Claims Season Finale at Texas FORT WORTH, Texas, Sunday, Oct. 17, 2004 -- Helio Castroneves claimed his first win of the 2004 IRL IndyCarÂ® Series season winning the finale, the Chevy 500k, at Texas Motor Speedway. Castroneves, ...
Castroneves Claims Season Finale at Texas
FORT WORTH, Texas, Sunday, Oct. 17, 2004 -- Helio Castroneves claimed his first win of the 2004 IRL IndyCar® Series season winning the finale, the Chevy 500k, at Texas Motor Speedway.
Castroneves, driver of the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/ Firestone held off Wheldon and Tony Kanaan on a late restart.
Kanaan finished second, inches ahead of Wheldon, his Andretti Green Racing teammate. Kanaan, who clinched the IndyCar Series championship at California Speedway on Oct. 3, became the first IndyCar Series driver to complete every possible lap in a season. Kanaan completed 3,305 laps this season. The previous best in the IndyCar Series was Sam Hornish Jr., who completed 2,643 laps of 2,650 laps possible in 2001.
The 2005 IRL IndyCar Series season begins March 6, 2005 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The Menards Infiniti Pro Series also begins on March 6.
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/ Firestone): "We did it, finally. It's great momentum (for the offseason.) These guys are awesome. Not only Marlboro Team Penske, but all our associates, especially Toyota. You guys worked your butts off to make today happen. I'm so proud of everyone." (About his season): "Sometimes racing is like that. It never goes the way you want it. We won the first race of the season, and we won the last race of the season. Hopefully, next year, we can be more competitive. Well done, Tony (Kanaan). Well done on the championship. But today, we beat you."
TONY GEORGE (president and CEO, Indy Racing League): "I just want to congratulate Tony (Kanaan) and his entire AGR Team 7-Eleven crew. They've been doing a great job all season long. They've been consistent, and they have been fast, and that is what championship dreams are built on."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "This is great. I'm just so happy. A great effort from 7-Eleven and all the AGR team. Thanks to all my teammates too and my team owners, Honda, Firestone, everybody. I just don't want to forget anybody. I can't forget my teammates. I need to thank them. They've helped me out a whole lot. The whole, whole, whole team. Not just the 7-Ekeven crew, but everybody on this team did a wonderful job helping me out. I'm very happy." (About winning IndyCar Series championship): "I need to thank Tony (George) and the whole Hulman-George family. What a great series. We have a great thing going, and we're building it up. You can say what you want, but I think we're the best out here. Not just my team, but everyone in the league." (About completing every lap of every race): "Thanks to my team. They made me run those three-thousand whatever laps. Thanks to the sponsors, 7-Eleven, Honda and Firestone. Three-thousand laps and no flats."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI (Co-owner Andretti Green Racing): "Tony (Kanaan) just did an awesome job to finish every lap. That says not just something about Tony keeping it out of trouble, but about the team."
DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone): (About race action): "Some people drive like idiots and want to bang wheels down the straightaway. They know who they are, and that's expected from them." (About 2004 season): "It's been good. To come second in the championship, third in the Indy 500, is strong. We've got to try to go one better next year, so that's what we've got to work on from this point on."
VITOR MEIRA (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Centrix Panoz G Force/ Honda/Firestone): "The race didn't finish like we thought, with just two laps to the checkered flag under green. I think we were in position to race for the win when the yellow came out. We had come back from ninth to the lead around Lap 160, and I was able to get some clear air driving around on the outside. I felt a little frustrated earlier, because I was getting blocked on the outside, but once I got clear of the cars, I could go on the high line. The car was good. I had some understeer in the car at the start, but I knew if I stayed with the lead pack that I would be OK for the end. It was a shame that we get those last 15 yellow laps. I just hope that Alex (Barron) and Dario (Franchitti) are OK. They took a hard hit. I clipped the wall a couple of times, too, but the car was still good. I had a great year with Rahal Letterman Racing and Centrix, and I'm really looking forward to coming back next year."
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (No. 5 Quaker State Telmex Tecate Panoz G Force/Honda/ Firestone): "It was a strong race. At the beginning, my car was very strong. Towards the end, I developed a little bit of push on the car, and we didn't really get rid of it. But it was a great race. I didn't have any problems with anybody. Everybody really behaved well. Clean racing with everybody, strong race and just a fantastic season for us. We cannot win them all, and Helio Castroneves deserved the win today. The Penske team has been trying so hard all year, and we fought very hard with them all year. It's nice to see them win. We finished fifth in the championship and earned rookie of the year with Kosuke Matsuura, so it's a great result for Fernandez Racing. It was a very consistent year towards the end, and that puts us in great shape for starting next year. Congratulations to Tony Kanaan, and let's get ready for next year."
A.J. FOYT IV (No. 14 Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "The car was pretty good, not great, but we made it better on pit stops. It's our first top-10 finish, so it was a good way to end the season. Now, we can head into next year knowing we can do it, so we'll set our goals higher for next year."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 ArcaEx Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It was the same exact mechanical failure at the back of the car as yesterday. First thing, I feel sorry for Alex (Barron), and I just hope nothing is wrong with him. That's twice this has happened this weekend, two mechanical failures, the same thing. I ended up in the wall twice, and right now, I am not happy."
MARK TAYLOR (No. 13 Access Motorsports Panoz G Force/Honda/ Firestone): "We had a great car yesterday. I just wish the race had been yesterday, because we would have won this thing. The car was really quick on its own, but we got caught up in traffic, and I was really struggling to keep it down on that white line. We got a seventh, can't complain about that. To start with seventh and end with seventh is a great job for these guys and an achievement for what they've got with the money they've been able to get."
SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "Today was a great finish for the Delphi team, considering the kind of year we had. This was the most competitive car we've had all season, and we raced our way into the top five. We just didn't quite have what we needed on the restarts, and I was just watching everyone going by me on the outside. It was a nice way to finish the season, with our best finish, and now we'll see what is in the cards for next year."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 1 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/ Firestone): "The Target car was much stronger at the end than it was at the start. We didn't have enough front wing, which gave me too much understeer and dropped me back early on. The Target team short-filled me on one of our stops in order to gain a few spots, and in the end, we were running really well with the leaders. Sixth place in the race and 10th place in the driver points is a fair finish for a season that has been difficult for everyone on the Target team. Everyone has worked hard this year, but we're happy to put it behind us now and look to the future. Next season, the Target team expects to be back on top."
TOWNSEND BELL (No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "We had a good, solid run today. We played it smart all day in the Menards/Johns Manville car, and this is about as good as we could have hoped for. A restart with three laps to go like we had was about the worst possible scenario. We needed about six laps to get going and didn't have it at the end. Chevy keeps digging, and they showed us some good things on Tomas' (Scheckter) car this weekend, and this is good way to end out our season."