FORMULA DREAM/PANASONIC DRIVER MUTOH RAN FOURTH BEFORE CONTACT LATE IN THE ROAD RUNNER TURBO INDY 300 LED TO A 23RD PLACE FINISH - Formula Dream / Panasonic driver Hideki Mutoh started fourth in the 300-lap Road Runner Indy 300 at Kansas...
FORMULA DREAM/PANASONIC DRIVER MUTOH RAN FOURTH BEFORE CONTACT LATE IN THE ROAD RUNNER TURBO INDY 300 LED TO A 23RD PLACE FINISH
- Formula Dream / Panasonic driver Hideki Mutoh started fourth in the 300-lap Road Runner Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway and held off attempted passes from fifth place runner and Team Penske driver Ryan Briscoe for much of the late stages of the race but an attempt to pass a lapped car on a restart ended with contact with 14 laps to go. Mutoh only ran out of the top-10 for four laps and jumped into fourth place after his third of four pit stops on Lap 122 when a quick stop by the Formula Dream/Panasonic crew gained him two spots. He held fourth place and ran side-by-side with pole sitter Briscoe for multiple laps before Briscoe gave up pursuit. He held fourth place until his fourth pit stop on Lap 176 and returned to the track in fifth place after losing a position to Helio Castroneves who pitted two laps later and gained the spot. The third of four cautions came out after his fourth stop for Jay Howard who crashed. On the restart from the third caution, there were many lapped cars in the lead pack. Mutoh was in fifth place behind Kanaan and Kanaan, Mutoh and Sato were nose-to-tail on the restart. They approached the lapped car of Simona de Silvestro, who was in the middle of the track. Kanaan got past de Silvestro and Mutoh went alongside her on the high side of the track and then Sato put the nose of his car between Mutoh and the outside track wall. There wasn't enough room for Sato's car as de Silvestro pushed both up the track and Sato's left front tire hit Hideki's right rear tire and the two made contact with the wall and brought out the fourth and final caution of the race. Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti earned a 1-2 finish for Target Ganassi Racing and Tony Kanaan finished third after starting 15th. Mutoh collected 12 points for his 23rd place finish and moved from 18th to 17th with a total of 72 points.
Following are Mutoh's post race comments:
"Taku (Takuma Sato) was on the outside but in the last turn a car was also on the inside and it came up (on the track) so there was no where to go. This is very unfortunate because we had a very good race up to that point and I didn't want to crash Taku because I respect him a lot. The next race is Indy so now I will put it out of my mind and try to race up front again. I think the Formula Dream / Panasonic team could have had a fourth place result. Top three would have been difficult but fourth place was possible. It's is a shame we ended the race early."
NEXT UP: The team will test at Kentucky Speedway next Tuesday, May 4 before practice begins for the 2010 Indianapolis 500 that will take place on May 30th.