Tough Finish for Target Team at Indianapolis 500 Indianapolis, IN, Sunday May 28th, 2006-- Target Chip Ganassi Racing was running first and second at the Indianapolis 500, with defending winner Dan Wheldon leading the charge for 148 laps,...
Tough Finish for Target Team at Indianapolis 500
Indianapolis, IN, Sunday May 28th, 2006-- Target Chip Ganassi Racing was running first and second at the Indianapolis 500, with defending winner Dan Wheldon leading the charge for 148 laps, when fate played its hand and reminded everyone once again just how very difficult it is to win the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing".
A tire puncture with 16 laps to go sent Wheldon to the pits, while a drive-through penalty for Scott Dixon, for what was deemed a blocking infraction, ultimately cost the Target Team any chance for a win. Despite the set backs, both Target cars remained on the lead lap, and following a caution period with just 5 laps to go, both drivers put in a valiant effort to fight their way to the checkered flag with Wheldon posting a fourth place finish while Dixon had his best result at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a sixth place.
On the final lap, San Hornish Jr. passed IndyCar Series rookie Marco Andretti low on the front stretch, just 300 yards from the finish line, to win by 0.0635 of a second. It was the second closest margin (.043 in 1992) in history and the closest under the Indy Racing League. Michael Andretti, who last competed at Indianapolis in 2003 but came out of retirement to race with his 19-year-old son Marco, finished third. Wheldon finished ahead of Tony Kanaan who was fifth, followed by Dixon, Dario Franchitti and Danica Patrick. Scott Sharp and Vitor Meira rounded out the top ten.
"Well, you know, it's the Indianapolis 500, and boy I hate to admit it, but I guess it's what makes the race so exciting." said Wheldon who led five times for a total of 148 laps. "We seemed to dominate, and I think Target Chip Ganassi Racing, Honda and Firestone did a fantastic job. It's disappointing we got a puncture and had to pit off-sequence. It's just tough. I had a very good car that was very good in traffic. It was good all day long, and we didn't win. It was just incredibly disappointing to lose the race like that."
Dixon led twice for a total of six laps and was credited with the fastest lap of the race on lap 41 with a speed of 221.251 mph (40.6777 sec) but that was little consolation as he was reprimanded for trying to protect his second place position from Tony Kanaan with 25 laps to go.
"I don't know, you know, I held my position trying to hold off Kanaan but I let him by at the end as he really had a run." said Dixon who was assessed a drive through penalty for his efforts. "You don't want to make it easy for them all the time. It's just how they call it. It's disappointing because we had a good car. I was cautious for most of the race saving fuel but had the car to fight back when I needed it. We were on a different strategy from the 10 car and we had enough fuel to make it to the end but it was really loose for the restart. Those things happen and it's part of what makes this race so tough to win."
The IndyCar Driver's Championship fight tights up as Wheldon is third in the Championship points with 139, just five points behind Sam Hornish Jr. (144) and 17 from Helio Castroneves (156), who did not finish the race after contact with Buddy Rice. Dixon remains fourth in the driver's Championship standings with 120 points.
The next stop for the Target Team is this coming weekend at Watkins Glen International in the state of New York where Scott Dixon, in a special edition no.9 Energizer themed Target car, will try to defend his 2005 road course win alongside teammate Dan Wheldon in the no.10 Target Honda.