IRL: Kansas: Honda Racing race report

Kansas fuel run goes to Herta & Honda Making just his third IRL IndyCar Series start, Honda-powered Bryan Herta and his Andretti Green Racing team took a gamble on fuel mileage and emerged victorious at the Kansas Indy 300. After making what ...

Kansas fuel run goes to Herta & Honda

Making just his third IRL IndyCar Series start, Honda-powered Bryan Herta and his Andretti Green Racing team took a gamble on fuel mileage and emerged victorious at the Kansas Indy 300. After making what turned out to be their final pit stop on Lap 139, Herta and AGR team manager Kyle Moyer elected to adopt a fuel conservation strategy and run to the finish.

Following the stop, Herta immediately began running in the draft of teammate Tony Kanaan and others in the field, even lapped cars, as one by one the remaining six cars on the lead lap made their way to the pits. With 10 laps remaining, only Kanaan and Herta remained on the lead lap. Kanaan, the IRL points, leader played it safe, ducking into pit lane on Lap 197 for a quick splash of fuel to ensure a fourth place finish. The Team Penske duo of Helio Castroneves and Gil de Ferran charged hard in the final minutes to regain the lead lap, but their efforts fell short by just over seven seconds as Herta cruised to victory.

Today's win was the first in the IRL for Herta, who took over the ride in the Archipelago/Motorola Honda for an injured Dario Franchitti last month, and the second of the year for Honda.

The 1-4-5-7-8 result also was the best of the year for Honda with only rookie Dan Wheldon, involved in a Lap 55 crash with Felipe Giaffone, failing to make it to the finish. Meanwhile, both Kenny Brack and Greg Ray overcame handling difficulties to finish fifth and eighth, respectively; while rookie points leader Roger Yasukawa continued to increase his lead in that category with a seventh-place run, his best of the season.

With today's event, the IRL IndyCar Series reaches the mid-point of the 16-race 2003 season. After a one-week break, the season will resume July 19 with the final Saturday night race of the year at Nashville Superspeedway.

Bryan Herta (#27 Archipelago/Motorola/Andretti Green Racing Honda) started 11th, finished 1st, first IRL victory, second race win of 2003 for Honda:

"This is an amazing feeling. I have to give all the credit to [team manager] Kyle Moyer and the Andretti Green team. Their strategy and the fuel economy of the Honda engine are responsible for this victory. The pit strategy--everything was 'right on' today. No one else had the combination of our strategy and the Honda's fuel economy. That's what got us to the end."

Tony Kanaan (#11 7-Eleven/Andretti Green Racing Honda) started 8th, finished 4th:

"It was a good day. I worked my butt off. I was trying to keep it in the lead group. After the [Lap 139] pit stop, I knew I wasn't going to make it on fuel, but I saw Bryan [Herta] saving fuel. I said, 'Hey, if I can't win I'd rather have my teammates win than anybody else' so I started out trying to help him with the draft. And fourth place is good for us, it helps us in the championship points. I'm extremely happy for Bryan. He is a great guy. That whole side of the team has had a tough time this year with Dario's injury, changing drivers and stuff. They deserve this. [Team manager] Kyle [Moyer] and all those guys - I'm extremely happy for them. Tonight, we'll all celebrate together."

Kenny Brack (#15 Pioneer/Team Rahal Honda) started 12th, finished 5th:

"Right from the start I had understeer [push] in one turn and oversteer [loose] in another. I don't know, but maybe the wind contributed, too. But the car wasn't good and I think we went back to 17th or 18th at one point. For a long time, we were the last car on the lead lap. But our team did a great job on pit strategy and changing the car. At the end, we finally had a pretty good car, but now we were a lap down to the lead. Hey, considering the day, we'll take fifth and move on. We just have to improve our race car. We didn't have a good car until the end, and it was too late then. That win is good for Bryan [Herta] and the Honda guys. We'll go to Nashville this week and work hard on our car for the next race."

Roger Yasukawa (#55 Panasonic/Autobacs/Super Aguri Fernandez Racing Honda) started 14th, finished 7th, best result of the season:

"It was an exciting race. Unfortunately, we stalled on the first pit stop and lost several positions. I'm happy with the finish; it's our highest this year. We needed to race to run in traffic, and learn drafting skills, and this was a perfect opportunity to do that."

Greg Ray (#13 Trim Spa/Access Motorsports Honda) started 9th, finished 8th:

"At the beginning, the car was not very good; it was very loose. We dropped all the way to the back and just hung in there. We made adjustments on the second stop, and it made it a little better, but after the last stop the car was great. I think we were one of the fastest cars on the track in the final laps. It was those really tough first 50 laps for us, that is what caused us to fall back."

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Greg Ray , Felipe Giaffone , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Kenny Brack , Dan Wheldon , Roger Yasukawa