IRL: Milwaukee: Honda race report

Franchitti Fights to the Finish at Milwaukee Dario Franchitti and Sam Hornish Jr. battled down to the wire in Sunday's ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225 at The Milwaukee Mile, swapping the lead four times in the final 30 laps before Hornish prevailed for...

Franchitti Fights to the Finish at Milwaukee

Dario Franchitti and Sam Hornish Jr. battled down to the wire in Sunday's ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225 at The Milwaukee Mile, swapping the lead four times in the final 30 laps before Hornish prevailed for his second win of the 2005 IndyCar Series season. Franchitti crossed the line less than four-tenths of a second later for Honda and the Andretti Green Racing team.

The defending winner of this event who also was victorious last weekend at Nashville, Franchitti started today's 225-lap contest from eighth on the grid, but had moved up to fourth by the first round of pit stops. Then, during a caution period on Lap 170, most of the leaders elected to make a third pit stop. But both Franchitti and teammate Tony Kanaan elected not to stop, moving up to the lead as a result but having to conserve fuel to the finish.

Hornish meanwhile, had a full load of fuel and fresh tires. When the track went green for the final time on Lap 195, the Team Penske driver quickly worked his way past series points leader Dan Wheldon and Kanaan, setting up the thrilling battle with Franchitti for the victory. Twice the pair ran side-by-side for an entire race lap, brushing against each other as they exited Turn Four on Lap 210. On Lap 213, Hornish brushed the wall exiting Turn Two, continuing without damage as Franchitti reclaimed the lead. But four laps later Hornish was back a in narrow lead he would maintain to the finish.

Behind Franchitti, teammates Kanaan, Wheldon and Bryan Herta claimed positions four through six; while Rahal Letterman Racing's Vitor Meira fought an ill-handling car to finish ninth, one lap down. The Fernandez Racing duo of Scott Sharp and Kosuke Matsuura also fought handling issues throughout the race to finish 10th and 11th, respectively; and the similarly-afflicted Roger Yasukawa crossed the line 15th for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.

Rookie leader Danica Patrick ran as high as sixth during the first half of the race before crashing on Lap 125, and teammate Buddy Rice also crashed out of the contest on Lap 164. Neither driver was injured.

Dario Franchitti (#27 Arca/Ex Andretti Green Racing Honda) Started 8th, finished 2nd, tied for second in the championship standings: "Congratulations to Sam [Hornish], those were some awesome final laps. My guys got me to the front today with some clever pit strategy, but the downside was we had to conserve fuel at the finish. But today the Penske cars were just hooked up. Our car was the one to beat here last year [when he won], but today we had to work for everything we could get. Sam and I were side-by-side a couple of times. He liked the high line and my car was good down low, so it worked out for both of us. Even after he brushed the wall [on Lap 213] and I got by again, I wasn't surprised when he was back on my tail again almost right away. We gave it our best today, and second place is another good result for us."

Vitor Meira (#17 Menards Rahal Letterman Racing Honda) Started 11th, finished 9th: "Man, that was a long day for us. The car was sliding all over and I was just trying to hang on. Unfortunately, my teammates Danica [Patrick] and Buddy [Rice] had the same problems, with worse results. I'm just glad they are okay. We had some pretty good racing in the middle of the field and actually we could stay ahead of some of the leaders on the long runs. But once you get a lap down, it is very hard to make it up. I was racing with the Cheever guys [Patrick Carpentier and Alex Barron], Buddy and a few others. Overall, we got some points out of here and we can move onto Michigan where I know we will have good cars. We need a good finish after the last few races."

Scott Sharp (#8 Delphi Fernandez Racing Honda) Started 13th, his 100th consecutive IndyCar race, finished 10th: "It "It was a tough day for the team. Based on how warm-up went, Chris [Finch, race engineer] and the other engineers made a lot of changes going into the race. Obviously, we were not right where we wanted to be and, at that point, you just have to hold on, not take too many chances and try to get as many points as you can. The fact that we finished in the top 10 is a real positive. We have to go away and think what we would do differently to come back here. We had a really strong short oval program all year so I really came to Milwaukee with great expectations, but we just seemed to chase the car all weekend. You'll have weekends like that, and you have to go for the points and move on."

Kosuke Matsuura (#55 Super Aguri Fernandez Racing Honda) Started 22nd, finished 11th: "First of all, I am very happy to finish this race because the last two races were sad for us. The team did an awesome job today. Yesterday, my car wasn't good. The handling was terrible. This morning as well in the warm-up, the handling was terrible. Our pit stops, our strategy, everything was perfect except for the car's [lack of] speed. This time, it looked liked the Panoz [chassis, used by Fernandez Racing] was at a disadvantage to the Dallara cars. The next race is Michigan where I started on the front row [last year], and I think we will have a good car for the race. I am looking forward to Michigan."


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Sharp , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Alex Barron , Dan Wheldon , Roger Yasukawa , Buddy Rice , Kosuke Matsuura , A.J. Foyt , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick , Vitor Meira
Teams Team Penske