IRL: Indy 500: Honda Racing race report

Kanaan Runs Third at Indy 500 Andretti Green Racing's Tony Kanaan led the Honda-powered contingent at the Indianapolis 500, charging back through the field to finish third after losing track position following an early pit stop in the 87th...

Kanaan Runs Third at Indy 500

Andretti Green Racing's Tony Kanaan led the Honda-powered contingent at the Indianapolis 500, charging back through the field to finish third after losing track position following an early pit stop in the 87th running of the Memorial Day weekend classic. Kanaan was one of three Honda-powered drivers to post top-ten race results, and regains the IRL IndyCar Series points lead after four of 16 rounds in the championship.

Kanaan also rounded out a 1-2-3 finish for Brazilian drivers at Indy, with two-time CART champion Gil de Ferran recording his first Indy victory, ahead of teammate and two-time defending race winner Helio Castroneves. Making his second start of the season, owner/driver Greg Ray finished eighth with his Access Motorsports Honda, while Japanese-American rookie Roger Yasukawa scored his best result of the season with a 10th-place run for Super Aguri Fernandez Racing.

Making his final start as an IndyCar driver, Michael Andretti also appeared ready to contend for the victory, leading 28 laps in his Honda-powered Dallara until a broken throttle linkage ended his day just before half distance. Transmission failures ended the runs of Robby Gordon, substituting for the injured Dario Franchitti; and Jimmy Vasser, making a one-off appearance at the '500' in a Rahal-Letterman Racing entry. Similar problems led to a long pit stop for former race winner Kenny Brack, who lost four laps while damaged transmission components were replaced in pit lane.

Veteran driver Shinji Nakano finished 14th in his second appearance this season with Greg Beck Motorsports. Also making his second race start of the season, Dan Wheldon appeared headed for a top-six finish until crashing out of the contest, without injury, just 14 laps from the finish. The rookie is scheduled to drive for Andretti Green for the remainder of the season.

Tony Kanaan (#11 7-Eleven/Andretti Green Racing Honda) started 2nd, finished 3rd: "Despite what a lot of people might think, I'm not disappointed at all. A month ago [after injuries in a crash at the race in Japan] I was just hoping to be able to race the car, and today I finished third. We got a bit of a bad break early on with the first pit stop, and fell back in the order, but I worked really hard and we managed to get back up to the front of the field. I did my best today, and so did my team and all the doctors and everyone who helped me recover from my injuries."

Michael Andretti (#7 7-Eleven/Andretti Green Racing Honda) started 13th, finished 27th (not running-throttle linkage) in his final race as an IndyCar driver: "No regrets, I'm proud of what I've accomplished in my career as a driver. Now I'm ready to go on to the next phase of my life as a team owner. I do think we had a car that could win the race. Early on, we still had a lot of downforce on the car, yet I could run at the front if I wanted. There was still a lot more speed to gain [later in the race] by trimming the car out. Shortly after a pit stop, I shifted down a gear to pass a lapped car and when I got back on the throttle, the pedal was just loose and unresponsive. It was just one of those freak things."

Greg Ray (#13 Trim Spa/Access Motorsports Honda) started 14th, finished 8th: "It was a bit of a double-edged sword. As a team owner, I'm very happy with our result today, but as a driver you always want to win and nothing less is satisfactory. But we could run consistent 226-227 [mile per hour] laps today by ourselves and we'll keep working to build this team into a true contender."

Roger Yasukawa (#55 Panasonic/Autobacs/Super Aguri Fernandez Racing Honda) started 11th, finished 10th: "It was a good race. I certainly learned a lot today about both traffic and the turbulence everyone talks about in the opening laps! Maybe next year we'll come back with a better finishing position, but for today it was great for us just to have a finish in the top ten."

Kenny Brack (#15 Pioneer/Rahal-Letterman Racing Honda) started 6th, finished 16th: "We had a good car today, but we lost first gear on second pit stop. Later the gearbox locked up, and we had to change all of the gears in the car. That cost us four laps. Who knows what would have happened today? We had one of the fastest cars in the middle of the race, but it doesn't mean anything if you can't be up front with the leaders. We fought hard to get back into the top 10."

Robert Clarke (Vice President and General Manager Honda Performance Development): "Obviously, we're disappointed not to have won today. But I am pleased that we only had one engine problem, and that [Michael Andretti's throttle linkage] was a fluke thing that we've never seen before. So, I'm pleased with the performance and reliability of our engine, and pleased with the great effort today from our teams and drivers. We'll work harder and do better next year, but for now our focus is on the [IRL IndyCar Series] championship."

-hr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby Gordon , Greg Ray , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Shinji Nakano , Kenny Brack , Dan Wheldon , Roger Yasukawa , Robert Clark