TONY KANAAN WINS WILD ABC SUPPLY / A.J. FOYT 225 PRESENTED BY TIME WARNER CABLE Controversy Reigns As Danica Patrick Fired Up About Incident With Dan Wheldon West Allis, Wis. (June 3, 2007) --When the checkered flag fell on the ABC Supply /...
TONY KANAAN WINS WILD ABC SUPPLY / A.J. FOYT 225 PRESENTED BY TIME WARNER
Controversy Reigns As Danica Patrick Fired Up About Incident With Dan Wheldon
West Allis, Wis. (June 3, 2007) --When the checkered flag fell on the ABC Supply / A.J. Foyt 225 presented by Time Warner Cable Sunday afternoon, it was Tony Kanaan who pulled into the newly-christened A.J. Foyt Victory Lane at The Milwaukee Mile. The IndyCar Series stars offered a little bit of everything from unexpected part failures to tempers flaring on pit road.
By winning the Road Runner High Speed Online Pole Award on Saturday afternoon, Helio Castroneves appeared to have the race in hand, dominating the event and leading a race-high 126 laps from his front row starting spot. The feisty Brazlian was on pace to win his frst race at America's Legendary Oval, but hopes of victory came to a freakish end on lap 201 when the rear wing on his car suddenly broke while leading, sending him in a wild ride before crashing into the inside front stretch wall.
"I had the race won," said Castroneves dejectedly after placing 16th. "It's a shame that something so odd happened there at the end. The car just started spinning when my rear wing broke. It's unfortunate because the Team Penske car was fantastic all day. The car was getting better and better throughout the race."
The incident was eerily similar to Mario Andretti's freakish accident at The Milwaukee Mile in 1987 when the rear wing broke on his Lola at the tricky one-mile oval entering turn one. Castroneves was helped from his Dallara, but escaped injury.
Kanaan stayed in the hunt throughout the 225-mile sprint after overcoming a penalty for pitting too early under caution just shy of the 100-lap mark.
"Sometimes it's not always the best car that wins the race," Kanaan said after scoring his second consecutive victory at The Milwaukee MIle. "We could say that many times. I just hung there all day. It was a difficult race. We had a couple of misfortunes. I didn't hit my marks and I made my guys waste precious time, but when I make mistakes, they make up for them. When they make mistakes, I make up for them. That's what makes this team so strong. I definitely had to race this race, apart from the last five laps. Before that I had to be on the charge."
His Andretti Green Racing teammates Dario Franchitti and Danica Patrick raced hard with Ganassi Racing's Dan Wheldon, as Penske drivers Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish Jr. provided the ignition that led to the race's dramatic conclusion.
For Team Penske, their race turned from bad to worse, as Sam Hornish's car suddenly slowed while running second with five laps to go, when the wing appeared to be falling off his machine was well. Hornish made a pass through of the pit lane and then gingerly finished the race in ninth place.
Franchitti's team struggled with understeer handling issues early, before bouncing back to take second one week after becoming the first Scotsman since Jim Clark in 1965 to win the Indianapolis 500. He found himself with a front row seat for an incident that sent Patrick's car into a long slide on lap 89, touched off by contact with Dan Wheldon.
Wheldon and Franchitti were racing hard for position when both were slowed momentarily exiting the corner, allowing Patrick to get a strong run on both of them. Patrick passed Franchitti and was able to pull alongside Wheldon down the front straightaway. Franchitti darted to the inside setting up a three-wide situation approaching the first turn. While Franchitti lifted, contact ensued with Wheldon entering the corner on the outside with Patrick on the inside. Patrick slid sideways between turns one and two and made a brilliant save but was forced to pit and lose a lap as her team needed to replace a steering arm.
Patrick was able to make the lap up and sliced her way forward to wind up with an eighth place result, her second straight top ten Milwaukee Mile IndyCar Series effort. As the drivers exited their machines on the pit lane, a frustrated Patrick confronted Wheldon and walked off after an apparently heated exchange.
"Brian Barnhart (Indy Racing League Official) always tells us 'third man in should be the first man out'," Franchitti said of the accident. "I was backing off when Dan (Wheldon) and Danica (Patrick) made contact."
"Dario (Franchitti) and Dan (Wheldon) got slowed up and I passed Dario and got alongside Dan," Patrick stated. "I saw Dario pull to the inside and I heard 'three-wide' going into the corner so I held me line and Dan just turned down. He told me later he didn't want to get in the marbles but that usually means you got passed. He just turned into me and I spun."
"Danica was just being Danica," Wheldon retorted when asked about the two driver's post-race discussion of the incident. ""I think she had a run on Dario, and I think she thought she was alongside me. Unfortunately for her, she wasn't. As she got out of it, I don't know what happened. She spun or dropped to the back. She's a little disgruntled, but as (race chief steward) Brian Barnhart says, what goes around comes around. She nearly put me in the wall at Indianapolis, and I certainly have no problems with anyone else on the track. I've been in this business long enough to know when someone is there and when somebody is not."
"The grass actually helped me, "Patrick continued, explaining how she kept the car from crashing. "When it hit the grass the front wheels slid more than the rear and I was able to keep it going. I actually felt proud of myself, but it's frustrating to have a car like that and then have an end to the day like this. I don't know how many eighth place finishes I have had, but I know I've had enough of them."
Wheldon finished the distance in third place ahead of his Ganassi teammate Scott Dixon, while 2004 event pole winner Vitor Meira completed the top five. Scott Sharp finished in the sixth position and Ed Carpenter was seventh. Patrick, Hornish, and Jeff Simmons in a back up car that started shotgun on the field completed the top ten.
Andretti Green Racing has won three of the four IndyCar Series events held at The Milwaukee Mile, with Michael Andretti enjoying his return visit to the podium as an owner for the fourth time, counting Jaime Camara's 2006 Indy Pro Series win. He scored five Indy car victories at The Mile, throw in a Super Vee triumph as a driver in 1992, he has carried on the Andretti magic at The Mile to ten collective victories.
Up until Sunday, Michael Andretti was the most recent back-to-back Milwaukee Mile winner in 1991 and 1992. A feat he accomplished in 1986 and 1987 as a driver, as well.
Franchitti may have summed it up best when he reflected on his run. "To finish second to Tony (Kanaan) was a great end to the day. It was just another crazy, exciting, Milwaukee race."
-credit: milwaukee mile