FONTANA, Calif. (Oct. 3, 2004) - Team 7-Eleven driver Tony Kanaan drove from the 21st starting position to a second-place finish in the California Indy 400 Sunday at California Speedway and, in the process, clinched the 2004 Indy Racing LeagueÂ®...
FONTANA, Calif. (Oct. 3, 2004) - Team 7-Eleven driver Tony Kanaan drove from the 21st starting position to a second-place finish in the California Indy 400 Sunday at California Speedway and, in the process, clinched the 2004 Indy Racing League® IndyCar® Series championship with one race remaining.
Kanaan, who has wheeled the #11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone to a league-record 14 straight top-five finishes, was forced to start from the rear of the field following a post-qualifying engine change on Saturday. However, Kanaan erased the track position deficit almost immediately, passing 17 cars in the first seven laps of the 200-lap event. From there, Kanaan battled among the top three and guided his Honda-powered machine to within one lap of his fourth victory of the 2004 season.
Following a late-race caution period, Kanaan restarted from the point on lap 199, but was passed by Adrian Fernandez during the one-lap shootout and lost by .0183 of a second in the seventh-closest finish in IndyCar Series history.
Klein Tools/Jim Beam driver Dan Wheldon charged from seventh to third in the final lap to tighten his grip on the second spot in the championship standings as the series heads toward its finale at Texas Motor Speedway on Oct. 17.
Tony Kanaan, #11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone:
"The race itself was just another race and I was racing for it. It's too bad I couldn't win, but this second place tastes the best of any second place in my life. I tried my best, but congratulations to Adrian. I was really focused on winning the championship for Team 7-Eleven and I got it, so now we have a mission in Texas, which is to make sure Dan ends up second in the championship."
Kim Green, President, Andretti Green Racing:
"We had to give Tony a car that he could run from the back, so we had to be a bit more conservative on the car, not so aggressive on downforce and give him a car that worked well in traffic. Tony Kanaan is very, very special and very good at that, so he made it look pretty easy in getting up to the front. In the end, we didn't have quite enough to win the race, which is disappointing, in that respect. But, we had great pit stops from our guys. It was really a flawless exhibition of driving and teamwork by everybody and just not giving up on the weekend. I'm so proud of everyone on Team 7-Eleven."