Milwaukee Mile Malaise for Messieurs Manning and Dixon West Allis, Wisconsin, July 26th, 2004-- Before the green flag even dropped at the Milwaukee Mile for the inaugural Menards A.J. Foyt 225, the Target Chip Ganassi Racing team had already...
Milwaukee Mile Malaise for Messieurs Manning and Dixon
West Allis, Wisconsin, July 26th, 2004-- Before the green flag even dropped at the Milwaukee Mile for the inaugural Menards A.J. Foyt 225, the Target Chip Ganassi Racing team had already had one of their more difficult race weekends of the season.
After both Target Toyota/ G Force cars were among the fastest cars on track on Friday, Darren Manning took the honours as fastest driver in Saturday morning practice but qualified tenth for the race after having a bobble coming out of turn four, spoiling both of his timed laps.
Teammate Scott Dixon, meanwhile, had two separate on track incidents occur on Saturday, and in the end, did not take part in Sunday's race on the advice of IRL medical staff physician, Dr. Henry Bock. Dixon was unhurt in the first incident and returned to the track for the qualifying session in the no. 1T Toyota/ Panoz G Force (back up car). On pace for the pole position on his second timed lap, the Target car got a little loose between turn three and four and Dixon's day ended with contact with the wall for a second time. He was however credited with a 14th fastest time in qualifying based on his first timed lap speed. The team prepared a third car (no.10 T car) for Dixon's possible return for the start of the race, from the back of the grid, following clearance from the medical staff to participate.
Following the qualifying session, Dixon was sent to Milwaukee's Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital for a precautionary exam that determined he did not sustain any fractures. Soreness to his left ankle was qualified as a severe left ankle sprain and X-rays taken on his right hand did reveal a small bone chip. Dixon did not participate in the race and is scheduled to meet with Dr. Terry Trammell in Indianapolis on Monday, July 26th for further assessment.
From his tenth place starting position on the grid, Darren Manning played the waiting game, patiently and methodically making his way through the field as he battled Dario Franchitti, Vitor Meira, Adrian Fernandez and Tony Kanaan, leapfrogging various backmarkers in the interim, to find himself in fourth place on lap 142. Just one lap later however, Manning's efforts would come to an abrupt end, as his no.10 Toyota/ G Force would make contact with the wall.
"I really don't know what happened because the car was running just fantastic and then suddenly it just snapped sideways between turn one and two," said Manning who had just come off his best IndyCar series finish in Nashville with a fourth place. "That was even my best corner since I could get the no. 10 Toyota/ G Force really low on the track and pass there. The Target team prepared such a great car allowing to me to make my way up the field. I was being really patient and picking guys off one at the time to make it up to fourth. It is just so disappointing. It's been a rough weekend for this Target team but we'll regroup and come back strong at Michigan."
Dario Franchitti was the eventual winner at The Milwaukee Mile with his first career IndyCar victory. In the hunt for the 2003 Championship, Tony Kanaan still leads the charge atop the standings with 357 points. Just one point still separate Target teammates Scott Dixon (200) and Darren Manning (199), who both drop down slightly to seventh (tied with Meira) and ninth place (tied with Herta) respectively.
Target Chip Ganassi Racing has another busy week ahead of them as they head to Nazareth for a Toyota engine test set for Tuesday, July 27th, prior to next weekend's Michigan Indy 400, the tenth race of the 16-race IndyCar season. Target fans can watch the race on ABC at 3:00 pm (EDT) Sunday, July 25th or they can listen in on the IMS Radio Network. Throughout the 2004 season, fans are invited to follow the team's progress by logging onto their official website at target.com/racing for news, features, photos and much more.