Target Top Ten Despite MIS-adventure Brooklyn, Michigan, Sunday July 31st, 2005 -- Blue skies above and four-wide open spaces on track at Michigan International Speedway combined to make for an exciting race at the Firestone Indy 400.
Target Top Ten Despite MIS-adventure
Brooklyn, Michigan, Sunday July 31st, 2005 -- Blue skies above and four-wide open spaces on track at Michigan International Speedway combined to make for an exciting race at the Firestone Indy 400. Target Chip Ganassi Racing was looking good with Scott Dixon setting the fastest lap time in the morning warm up and starting from a season best fourth spot on the grid in the no.9 Target Toyota Panoz. New teammate Jaques Lazier and rookie Ryan Briscoe had a little more of a challenge ahead of them from their 15th and 17th place starting positions respectively.
A strong performance from Scott Dixon had him in the top ten and among the front runners for most of the race which saw nothing but green flag conditions for the first 120 laps. Shortly after, however, a track that is notorious for being hard on equipment began to claim its victims. By lap 168, after coming into the pits with a rare electrical issue, Dixon was forced to withdraw from the competition.
"We had a really good run going there today and it's unfortunate for the Target team to end our day like this," said Dixon who was credited with a 19th place finish. "The Target Toyota Panoz was definitely better on new tires and I could go to the low line. In those long runs I started to fade back as the tires wore and we got pretty loose but we stayed with that lead pack for most of the day and that's a positive. Toyota made some good gains and that's what helped put us at the forefront once again. I feel like the track was definitely coming to us at the end there so it's disappointing that we didn't get to make the sprint to the finish."
Jaques Lazier, who was at the helm of the no.10 Target Toyota in his first race for the Target team, had a strong run and was making gains to put himself in the top ten. On lap 181, however, he became an unfortunate bystander caught up in a multi-car accident in turn two after Townsend Bell lost control of his car in front and eventually collected Lazier, Kosuke Matsuura and Roger Yasukawa. All drivers were checked and released without injuries by the IRL medical staff.
"It's definitely just a racing incident," said a disappointed Lazier. "I just feel so bad for the no.10 Target crew who worked so hard to get me ready for this weekend. The Target Toyota Panoz was just a little off for the start but we made adjustments and had some really good runs by the midway point. We were making some real progress and just kind of hanging out for the final sprint when the no.2 car started to get loose and slide up. I had no where to go and it felt like I got tagged from behind and at that point you are just a passenger. It's really unfortunate and disappointing because I feel like we really could have made it into the top ten here in my first race with Target Chip Ganassi Racing."
In his rookie encounter with the Michigan track, Ryan Briscoe overcame a deficit of two laps, the loss of a tire on pitlane that required him to run a full lap without his rear left Firestone tire, and initial difficulties with car handling, to finally cross the finish line and post his third top ten result of the 2005 season.
"At the start of the race I really struggled with the car set up and it was very pretty difficult in traffic," said Briscoe who improved his position from 23rd to finish tenth. "We made changes every time I came into the pits and by altering my line on the track the no.33 Target Toyota really started to come together near the end. I almost wish there were another 100 miles to the race. All things considered, I'm happy with a top ten result and we'll look to build on that for the next race."
Polesitter Bryan Herta, held off Dan Wheldon for his first win of the 2005 and the 11th closest finish in IndyCar Series history, as the teammates crossed the finish line just 0.0374 of a second apart. Tomas Scheckter took the checkered flag in third place, followed by Tony Kanaan, Sam Hornish Jr. and Buddy Lazier.
With a rare weekend off in the midst of six races in seven weeks, Target Chip Ganassi Racing will be back on track in two weeks time at Kentucky Speedway for the AMBER Alert Portal Indy 300 on August 14, 2005.