Chip Ganassi Racing's Dan Wheldon used the backmarkers to his advantage and held off a charging Tony Kanaan of Andretti Green Racing to win the Kansas 300 on Sunday (April 27th).
"It's fantastic," Wheldon said. "It's been a year (since the last victory)." Ironically Wheldon failed to win a single race in 2007 after winning this race at Kansas Speedway one year ago.
"It was an impressive job by TCGR," he continued. "It's tough now with everyone on the same chassis and equal power. This is good leading into Indianapolis."
With the result, Wheldon becomes IndyCar's first two-time winner at Kansas.
Tony Kanaan kept his temper in check as he acknowledged the challenges he faced through a difficult qualifying session and traffic that hampered his assault on Wheldon's lead.
"I have to thank my team. After the week that we had, second place is good result," Kanaan said.
"I wasn't happy with the lapped traffic on the last two laps; but what goes around comes around," he added, doing a slow steam over the pack of cars that held him back in his pursuit of Wheldon.
Wheldon teammate Scott Dixon was third, set back late in the contest by a mistimed pit stop under green immediately before an accident brought out a yellow flag.
"We lost it right there," he said. "We have to work on that, but at least Dan won the race."
Dixon and Wheldon started the race from the front row, with the former on pole. Dixon also earned the three bonus points for leading the most laps during the race.
Team Penske's Helio Castroneves fought to a fourth-place finish over the 1.5 mile oval.
Marco Andretti finished fifth, with teammate Hideki Mutoh right behind.
Ryan Briscoe, Vision's AJ Foyt IV, NHL's Justin Wilson and Ed Carpenter round out the top ten.
The race was surprisingly tough on cars and crew, sending ten cars to the sidelines before the checkered flag flew.
Danica Patrick dropped out on Lap 150 with sheared drive pins on the right rear. Buddy Rice and Tomas Scheckter suffered race-ending collisions without injury. Will Power dropped in the championship points race with retirement early in the race.
Marty Roth struck a crew member (who appeared to be slightly but not seriously injured) of the Luczo Dragon team incurring a stop and hold penalty of 30 seconds.
The standings after the Kansas 300 find Helio Castroneves ahead of Scott Dixon by a slim six points; Dan Wheldon now third, ahead of Tony Kanaan and Danica Patrick. Only thirty-four points separate the top five.
Attention now shifts to Indianapolis, where the 92nd running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing awaits.
Rookie orientation begins Sunday May 4th at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with (thanks to unification) one of the largest groups of incoming drivers in years.