IRL: Homestead: Honda Racing race report

Kanaan comes home fourth at Homestead. Honda began its inaugural IRL IndyCar Series campaign with a fourth-place finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway for Tony Kanaan, in what also was the debut of Honda-powered Andretti Green Racing, as well as ...

Kanaan comes home fourth at Homestead.

Honda began its inaugural IRL IndyCar Series campaign with a fourth-place finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway for Tony Kanaan, in what also was the debut of Honda-powered Andretti Green Racing, as well as Honda-powered entries from Team Rahal and Super Aguri Fernandez Racing.

After qualifying on the pole Saturday, Kanaan dropped back to third at the green flag behind team leader Michael Andretti and defending Indy 500 race winner Helio Castroneves of Team Penske. After an early caution period, Kanaan moved back up to the point on Lap 14 and would lead a total of 35 during today's 200-lap contest. Kanaan would remain near the front for the rest of the day, but was unable to mount a charge on the leaders in the closing laps as Scott Dixon scored his first IRL victory.

Kanaan's teammates, Michael Andretti and Dario Franchitti, both fought increasing understeer in the changing track conditions to finish sixth and seventh, respectively. A new driver to Honda this year but a former IRL and Indy 500 champion, Kenny Brack, also struggled with handling problems and finished 11th for Team Rahal.

Formula Atlantic graduate Roger Yasukawa was the top rookie finisher for Honda and Super Aguri Fernandez Racing in his IRL debut, running 14th in his Honda-Dallara.

Honda Fast Facts

Today's race was the inaugural appearance of the manufacturer in IRL IndyCar Series competition. The company announced last May that it would be competing in the IRL after a nine-year CART Champ Car program that included 65 race wins, four Manufacturers' Championships and six consecutive drivers' titles.

Honda also will return to the Indianapolis 500 this year, for the first time since 1995.

Tony Kanaan (#11 7-Eleven/Andretti Green Racing Honda) started 1st, finished 4th, led twice for a total of 36 laps: "I'll take a fourth place in our first race together, but we want to go for the win, obviously. That's what we're here for. The car was fairly consistent today, but always here in Miami you have to keep up with the changing track conditions. With the wind and the temperatures, the track here is always changing and you have to adapt to it. We did reasonably well with that today, but not good enough to challenge the guys at the front at the end."

Michael Andretti (#7 7-Eleven/Andretti Green Racing Honda) started 2nd, finished 6th, led first 13 laps of the race: "We still have some work to do with the team. The car would start out strong, but I wasn't able to keep the tires under it and the longer I ran, the more the tires would go away and I'd be doing a lot of sliding around out there. But it's not too bad for our first time out as a team and I expect us to improve by Phoenix."

Dario Franchitti (#27 Motorola/Andretti Green Racing Honda) started 7th, finished 7th: "I'm frustrated, to be honest. The Honda engine was very good, but we just didn't get a handle on the car this weekend. We had understeer in qualifying and then in the race, the car would start out well at the beginning of a run, then the understeer would return with a vengance and I'd lose whatever ground I'd made up earlier."

Kenny Brack (#15 Pioneer/Miller Lite/Team Rahal Honda) started 8th, finished 11th, led one lap: "It was a long day and we have a lot of work in front of us. At least we brought it back in one piece today. It was just a very long weekend for Team Rahal, but we are going to bounce back. The crew did a great job in the pits, we just didn't have a good car today. Even when we ran [up front] with the Penske and Andretti cars, it wasn't really that good, though it did improve a little bit towards the end of fuel runs. But it was just one of those days."

Roger Yasukawa (#55 Panasonic/Super Aguri Fernandez Racing Honda) started 10th, finished 14th, top overall rookie finisher: "Not too bad, our main goal was to finish and we did that, and learned a whole lot as well. We're still finding out how to deal with pit stops, traffic and re-starts. Car-wise, we struggled with understeer thoughout the race, but we'll take the information we learned here today and try to improve for Phoenix."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Michael Andretti , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Kenny Brack , Roger Yasukawa
Teams Team Penske