Kanaan Leads Honda Sweep in Kansas In the sixth-closest finish in Indy Racing League history, defending series champion Tony Kanaan held off teammate Dan Wheldon by just twelve-thousandths of a second for his first -- and Honda's fifth...
Kanaan Leads Honda Sweep in Kansas
In the sixth-closest finish in Indy Racing League history, defending series champion Tony Kanaan held off teammate Dan Wheldon by just twelve-thousandths of a second for his first -- and Honda's fifth -- IndyCar Series victory of 2005 Sunday at Kansas Speedway.
Wheldon, the runaway championship leader with four wins this season, led the most laps in the Argent Mortgage Indy 300, taking over for the final time on Lap 197 as Buddy Rice made a late stop for a splash of fuel. But using the faster outside line, Kanaan was able to edge past Wheldon one lap later and hold on for his fourth career IndyCar win.
Rahal Letterman Racing's Vitor Meira, who finished second here last year to teammate Rice by just five-thousandths of a second, went down to the track apron to make it a "three-wide" finish, but once again came up just short, this time taking the checker in third place, another twelve-thousandths behind Wheldon. In another strong run, Dario Franchitti finished fourth after spending the entire race as part of the lead pack, making it a 1-2-3-4 sweep for Honda.
Scott Sharp struggled early with the handling, but his Delphi Fernandez Racing team improved his car at every pit stop. Sharp responded by moving up through the field to finish sixth, his fourth top-six result of the season. Pole qualifier Danica Patrick fell back at the start, but also had a strong second half of the race to finish ninth. Next was Rice, her Rahal Letterman Racing teammate, who tried to stretch his fuel mileage into a race win, but was forced to stop for a splash of fuel on Lap 197, dropping him to tenth.
Bryan Herta struggled to a 15th-place finish, still on the lead lap but out of touch with the front pack. Kosuke Matsuura dropped out of the race on Lap 134 with mechanical problems, while Roger Yasukawa crashed out of the contest, without injury, on Lap 53.
Tony Kanaan (#11 7-Eleven Andretti Green Racing Honda) Started 8th, finished 1st, fifth career IndyCar win, first victory of 2005, fifth Honda IRL win of the season:
"I like that, racing like that with my teammate. I knew he was going to race me clean and it was good racing between us. It's been a long time since [his last victory at] Nashville last year, so we needed this. I'm happy for the team, and happy for Dan. We are a solid first and second in the championship, and that's what we need. This team needs to win the championship again. I had a good race car, I just couldn't find the speed we needed in qualifying. We worked on race setup during the first two practice sessions yesterday, so I knew I'd have a good car for the race, and that's the way it turned out."
Dan Wheldon (#26 Jim Beam/Klein Tools Andretti Green Racing Honda) Started 13th, finished 2nd, continues to lead the IndyCar championship points standings:
"We didn't have the fastest car out there today, so to lead the most laps and finish second to my teammate is pretty good. But we still need to work on our superspeedway setup. The car was very consistent throughout the race, and I was pushing every button I had in the cockpit trying to make it faster, but we still weren't as quick as some of the other guys out there, especially in clean air. I can't be too grumpy, but I want to win races and to come up just twelve-thousandths of a second short is pretty frustrating."
Vitor Meira (#17 Menards Rahal Letterman Racing Honda) Started 3rd, finished 3rd:
"My crew was awesome today. They picked up two or three spots on the last pit stop and that put me right up with [leader] Dan [Wheldon]. Tony was able to get around to the high side; that was his big break. I now know how he felt last year when Buddy [Rice] and I were side-by-side. There was just no place to make a pass. The high side of the track was working when you were in traffic, but at the end and by myself I couldn't make it stick. I have lost the last two races [at Kansas] by about four feet and under three-hundredths of a second. Man, that is pretty close. I would like to win one of these [races] pretty soon."
Scott Sharp (#8 Delphi Fernandez Racing Honda) Started 15th, finished 6th:
"It was an eventful day and an exciting race. We were chasing the handling a little bit early on, and I think a lot of others were. The guys did a great job on our pit stops and we were able to get the car dialed in more and more as the race went on. I could see we were working our way up through the field and we made it to the lead group. Then it was just a matter of race strategy and trying to get as far forward as we could by the flag."
Danica Patrick (#16 Pioneer/Argent Rahal Letterman Racing Honda) Started 1st, finished 9th, continues to lead series rookie points standings:
"Fifth gear was a bit too long for the conditions today, and I got dropped back pretty badly at the start and couldn't fight back. Then we had an electronics problem and had to turn the traction control off, and we lost time at every pit stop as a result. I think I was running 15th at one point today, so to come back and finish ninth is pretty good. It seemed like I was fighting for position throughout the whole race, so I learned a lot about establishing a 'comfort zone' alongside someone and a lot more about side-by-side racing in general."