IRL: Fontana: Race report

FONTANA, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 16, 2005 -- Dario Franchitti beat Tony Kanaan by 0.1117 of a second to claim his second victory of the season -- and the first in his IndyCar® Series career on a track longer than 1.33 miles, winning the Toyota Indy...

FONTANA, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 16, 2005 -- Dario Franchitti beat Tony Kanaan by 0.1117 of a second to claim his second victory of the season -- and the first in his IndyCar® Series career on a track longer than 1.33 miles, winning the Toyota Indy 400 at California Speedway.

It was the 11th victory for an Andretti Green Racing driver this season and 21st overall since the team joined the series.

The win was bittersweet for Franchitti, who won the Marlboro Pole Award on Oct. 15. During his victory lap, Franchitti stopped on the Turn 2 apron of the 2-mile oval to turn a few donuts in honor of Greg Moore, who was fatally injured in a crash there during a race on Oct.31, 1999.

Rahal Letterman Racing's Vitor Meira finished third, followed by Scott Sharp of Delphi/Fernandez Racing. The veteran driver of the No. 8 Delphi Panoz/Honda/Firestone supplanted Helio Castroneves for fifth in the standings. Castroneves, who started sixth in the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, finished ninth.

TOYOTA INDY 400 POST-RACE QUOTES:

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 ArcaEx Dallara/Honda/Firestone, winner Toyota Indy 400): "I could see (Tony Kanaan's) car coming, but it was a difficult to see there. He was coming up pretty quick there. We were working well together, and we were starting to pull away from the other guys." (Were there team orders to let you win?): "I wish there were. We certainly talked about what we could do to help each other, but with (Sam) Hornish (Jr.) doing so well, it didn't come to that. I couldn't leapfrog him, and he couldn't leapfrog Tony. It was a good team effort. We all worked well together. You can help people around here. A bittersweet win here because I lost a good friend (Greg Moore) here, six years ago."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished second): "It was a shame. I don't know what happened. When I went to upshift, obviously I was upshifting and downshifting, and something hit me. I tried to anticipate. When you have a close finish like this, it's crazy. It's a shame. Thank God my teammate won. If it was going to be somebody else, I was going to be really mad. Probably a missed shift or something like that. That's the way it is. Good way to finish the season, another win for Andretti Green, second in the championship, so we're happy."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Panoz/Honda/Firestone, finished fourth): "We came into this race shooting for a top five finish in the points, and we had a great day and accomplished that. The guys gave me some great pit stops today like they have all year. That has been a real strength for us. Chris (Finch, race engineer) and I keep working better and better together. I think we maximized everything we had on our car. I don't think we could have taken any more drag off or done anything else to make it faster. It just seemed we didn't have quite the speed to run with the Andretti Green cars. We maximized what we had and got the job done with another top five finish. It was a really great year for the entire team. These guys just don't stop. My hat's off to J.D. (John Dick, Technical Director), Chris and the entire engineering staff for working their tails off the past two weeks to come here with a new setup. This is the best we have run on a big track. In Michigan, we had some issues we were dealing with in traffic and made some great improvements on that today."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, finished fifth): "We started the race really strong, and the Marlboro Team Penske car was running well early in the race. We were able to stay up front and even lead a lap before we got called for a pit stop violation. As a result, we ended up two laps down which really hurt us. Fortunately, we battled back to get on the lead lap and bring the car home in fifth. I have to hand it to my crew - they did a phenomenal job all day in the pits, and today's result was truly a collaborative effort. All things considered, I'm happy to have come out of Fontana in the top-five."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, finished ninth): "It was a tough day for us. The Marlboro Team Penske car was very inconsistent so we worked on it throughout the race but never got it quite right. I'm also really disappointed that we dropped from fifth to sixth in the final Championship standings. What can I say -- we gave it our best and came up short. I've got to thank my crew for all of their hard work this season. It's time to look ahead and get ready for next year."

DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished sixth): "It was kind of difficult for me today. I had as much understeer as I've ever had in a race car to start the race. I somewhat purposely dropped to the back. Obviously, it's a 400 mile race here and you can make it to the front quickly if your car is good. Fortunately, a yellow fell just at the right time, and we did three turns of the front wing in (during the pit stop). It certainly made the car much better. Towards the end, it had understeer, and it was also pretty loose. The year has been good. It would have been nice to end on a high note, but still I'm happy for Dario (Franchitti) to win. He's had some bad luck. I'm certainly happy and glad that he's won."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, finished seventh): "I think we missed a little on the restart gears, which completely hurt us at the end of the race today. That, combined with the fact I had a major push off Turn 2, I couldn't catch back up to the lead guys. I know that if I could have been up with the leaders we could have passed them. I wanted to win so badly this weekend for Panther (Racing), Pennzoil and the guys at Chevrolet. I was able to lead some laps, and it's always great to see that Pennzoil car at the front of the field, but winning is what's important. But sometimes it doesn't work out, and we'll all move on and remember all the great parts of this season."

TOMAS ENGE (No. 2 ROCKSTAR Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, finished eighth): "I was so lucky today, but it was a great run. I'm glad we could finish the last race for all the ROCKSTAR guys. Obviously, we were looking for a better finish, and we knew we would be strong today. We were unlucky with a penalty (pit speed violation) but then lucky because we managed not to lose a lap. (About the Patrick-Lazier accident): "That happened right ahead of me, and I was so lucky to avoid it. I saw them tangle and was watching the road ahead of me when all I saw was smoke. It was great to work with Panther (Racing) and Chevrolet this season, and I just hope that we can continue into the future."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Menards Johns Manville Panoz/Honda/ Firestone, finished third): "The track changed so much today, especially after the warm-up. It rained and the rubber washed off. Then the track was pretty dirty at the start, but the car felt good from the start. We got an excellent start and moved into the leader's pack. We were always kind of going after the track today, but our team made the adjustments with the car, and they had great pit stops today. We made a few changes with the front wing, and that is all. 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

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Greg Moore , Jim Beam , Vitor Meira
Teams Team Penske