Dario Franchitti led a 1-2-3-4 Honda sweep Sunday of the season-ending IndyCar Series race at California Speedway, holding off his Andretti Green Racing teammate Tony Kanaan by just over a tenth of a second for his second -- and Honda's 12th --...
Dario Franchitti led a 1-2-3-4 Honda sweep Sunday of the season-ending IndyCar Series race at California Speedway, holding off his Andretti Green Racing teammate Tony Kanaan by just over a tenth of a second for his second -- and Honda's 12th -- win of the season.
Starting from the pole, Franchitti led three times for a total of 68 laps en route to the victory, Honda's sixth sweep of the top finishing positions this year. His strongest challenger in the final laps was Kanaan, who pulled out to try an outside pass exiting the final corner, only to drop back in the last few yards to the checker. Rahal Letterman Racing's Vitor Meira charged up from the 13th starting position in the early laps to finish third, and spent much of the race dueling with fellow Honda driver Scott Sharp in his Delphi Fernandez Racing entry.
Newly-crowned series champion Dan Wheldon was unable to add to his season-record tally of six victories, but finished sixth in his Andretti Green entry. Bryan Herta ran in the lead group early in the race, but lost time when his helmet visor flipped open on Lap 49, leading to an unscheduled pit stop to tape it down. He recovered to finish 11th, with Buddy rice 12th in his Rahal Letterman machine. Roger Yasukawa finished 16th for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.
Danica Patrick had already clinched the Rookie of the Year title, but was eliminated in a Lap 184 crash with Jaques Lazier. Neither driver was injured. Super Aguri Fernandez Racing's Kosuke Matsuura crashed while pitting on Lap 168, but also escaped injury.
Today's event concludes the 2005 Indy Racing League season, with Honda winning its second consecutive IRL Manufacturers' Championship. The 2006 season starts on March 26 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida.
Dario Franchitti (#27 Arca/Ex Andretti Green Racing Honda) Started 1st, finished 1st, his second win of 2005, Honda's 12th victory in 17 races this season: "I don't know how close Tony [Kanaan] was at the end. I could see him in my mirrors, but I don't know how close he was. We were working well together during the last couple of laps, trying to get away from the other guys and I guess we built ourselves a pretty good margin while we were doing that. We've had the pace all season, and all the AGR cars have been up there at the front. We've just made a couple of mistakes at important times. We won't make those next year."
Tony Kanaan (#11 7-Eleven Andretti Green Racing Honda) Started 10th, finished 2nd, his ninth top-three finish of 2005 : "It was a long day. We had a good car, but there was some very hard racing out there and that always makes it tough. On the last lap, I thought I had a good run at Dario [Franchitti] coming out of Turn Four. But I think I hit the wrong button and turned on the pit lane speed limiter instead of the 'overtake' [which maximizes engine power settings], and the car bogged down. I'm a little disappointed at finishing second, but my teammate won the race. It was a good day for Dario."
Vitor Meira (#17 Menards Rahal Letterman Racing Honda) Started 13th, finished 3rd, his fourth top-three finish of 2005: "The track changed so much today, especially after the warm-up. But the car felt good from the start. We got an excellent start [from mid-field] and moved into the lead pack. So the car was really good all day long. Third place is a good result for the car we had. I'm not sure we could run with Dario [Franchitti] or Tony [Kanaan] but we were as fast as anyone else out there today. But it was great to help give Honda a 1-2-3-4 finish at their 'hometown' race here in Los Angeles."
Scott Sharp (#8 Delphi Fernandez Racing Honda) Started 9th, finished 4th, moves up to fifth in the final point standings: "It was a good race for us today. The car ran strong all day, and we once again had great pit stops from the guys. We ran right at the front all day long, but didn't quite have enough for Tony [Kanaan] and Dario [Franchitti]. Still, it's been a great season for us, one of the best of my entire career. We're fifth in the championship, and we'll build in that next year."
Robert Clarke, president, Honda Performance Development, recapping the 2005 IndyCar Series season: "It was another dream season for Honda. We successfully retained the Manufacturers' Championship, the Driver Championship and Rookie of the Year Award with 12 race wins and 8 poles. We met all of the objectives we set out for ourselves at the start of the year, including winning the "key" events of St. Petersburg, Twin Ring Motegi and the Indianapolis 500. Personally, I am extremely proud and thankful for the work that all of our associates at HPD put into the IndyCar program, and of course have to thank all of our drivers and teams for their fine efforts as well. Finally, I'm proud of Honda for deciding to extend the relationship with the IRL for another three seasons. I believe that with this agreement, we have the basis for building a stronger and more popular IndyCar Series in the future."