Fuel strategy pays off Herta with Kansas victory KANSAS CITY, Kan., Sunday, July 6, 2003 -- Bryan Herta wasn't the fastest driver during the Kansas Indy 300, but Andretti Green Racing had the smartest fuel strategy, helping Herta to his first ...
Fuel strategy pays off Herta with Kansas victory
KANSAS CITY, Kan., Sunday, July 6, 2003 -- Bryan Herta wasn't the fastest driver during the Kansas Indy 300, but Andretti Green Racing had the smartest fuel strategy, helping Herta to his first career IRL IndyCarTM Series victory July 6 at Kansas Speedway.
Herta, from Valencia, Calif., took the front for the first time -- and for good -- on Lap 195 of the 200-lap race when leader Tony Kanaan was forced to dive into the pits for a quick splash of fuel in his No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone. Herta, who had made his final pit stop on Lap 139, then conserved fuel over the final five laps for the victory in the No. 27 Archipelago/Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone.
The victory came in just the third IndyCar Series start for Herta, who was named last month as the replacement for the injured Dario Franchitti with Andretti-Green Racing. Herta averaged 167.570 mph and earned $200,400.
"This is an amazing feeling," Herta said. "I have to give all the credit to Kyle Moyer and the Andretti Green team. Their strategy and the fuel economy of the Honda engine are responsible for this victory.
"No one else had the combination of our strategy and the Honda's fuel economy. That's what got us to the end."
Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves finished second in the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, 7.3264 seconds behind Herta. It was the largest margin of victory in the series since July 2001 at Nashville.
Castroneves' teammate, 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner Gil de Ferran, finished third in the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone as Penske Racing just missed a 1-2 finish in its 1,000 Indy-style start.
Kanaan finished fourth to extend his series lead to 32 points over MBNA Pole winner Dixon, who finished sixth in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone. 1999 Indianapolis 500 winner and 1999 series champion Kenny Brack finished fifth in the No. 15 Pioneer/Miller Lite Dallara/Honda/Firestone.
Herta and Castroneves were the only drivers running at the finish to make just three pit stops. De Ferran, Kanaan and Brack needed four stops, while Dixon made five.
De Ferran led Kanaan by 8.0535 seconds with 20 laps remaining, but he was forced to make his fourth and final pit stop on Lap 185, handing the lead to Kanaan.
"We were flat out throughout the race," de Ferran said. "My right foot cramps so much. I was trying to hold the thing (gas) so flat.
"The car was really fantastic. I have to really hand it to our guys. We haven't been the best at this type of track, but I have to say that today I believe we had the best car."
Then Kanaan made his final stop on Lap 195, putting Herta and Castroneves 1-2, respectively.
It was a wonder that Castroneves was even in position to contend for victory at the end.
Castroneves slowed in Turns 1 and 2 on Lap 131 due to a gearbox problem. He quickly returned to speed and steadily climbed back toward the top five.
"It's a shame," Castroneves said. "Unbelievable. We broke the gearbox, sixth and fifth, all of a sudden. I thought our day was over. Finally, I was able to disengage from the stuck gear and come back into fourth.
"I don't know how I finished. It was just flat out from that moment."
Dixon led the first 53 laps to extend his series record of consecutive laps led to 343. But a fuel-pickup problem late in the race prevented Dixon from contending for victory and forced him to make two fuel stops late in the race in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone.
2001 Bombardier Rookie of the Year Felipe Giaffone suffered a fractured right femur and fractured pelvis in an accident on Lap 56 with rookie Dan Wheldon, who was unhurt. Wheldon's No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone touched Giaffone's No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone while they raced for position in Turn 2.
The next IRL IndyCar Series race is the Nashville Indy 200 on Saturday night, July 19 at Nashville Superspeedway.