Second Place Finish for Target at Japan Indy 300 Motegi, Japan, Saturday, April 22, 2006--Another strong result for Target Chip Ganassi Racing as Japan Indy 300 defending race winner Dan Wheldon drove the no.10 Target Honda home to a second...
Second Place Finish for Target at Japan Indy 300
Motegi, Japan, Saturday, April 22, 2006--Another strong result for Target Chip Ganassi Racing as Japan Indy 300 defending race winner Dan Wheldon drove the no.10 Target Honda home to a second place finish at Twin Ring Motegi from his third place starting spot. Wheldon challenged eventual winner Helio Castroneves for much of the race, even leading five laps and posting the second-fastest lap of the race (200.432 mph). Tony Kanaan, Sam Hornish Jr. and Buddy Rice rounded out the top five.
"We were very competitive at the start of the final stint and I was able to pass Kanaan and Franchitti," said Wheldon who moves into second place in the IndyCar Series Driver Points standing (104 points) behind Helio Castroneves (146 points). "I felt I was quick, if not a bit quicker than the no.3 car early on, but towards the end our car wasn't quite consistent enough. I was just a bit too loose and didn't quite have enough to catch Helio (Castroneves). With a little breathing room behind me, I chose not to take any chances and bring the car home in second place for some valuable points. It's a good result but we'll be looking forward to Indy."
Target teammate Scott Dixon, who started on the front row in second spot based on entrant points after two days of rain at Twin Ring Motegi wiped out qualifying, led the 200-lap race on two occasions (5 laps) and posted the fastest lap of the race (200.584 mph on lap 171) . The no.9 Target car was poised for a top finishing spot as Dixon came into the pits as leader for his final stop when a clutch problem contributed to a stall exiting the pit box, dropping the Kiwi a lap down.
"I'm pretty disappointed because we had such a good run going and the Target car was just fantastic," said Dixon who, with a 9th place finish in Japan, now stands 4th in the Driver Points standings behind Sam Hornish Jr. with 92 points. "On that last stop I lost the clutch, stalled it and fell back too many spots too late in the race to make a decent comeback. It really is a shame. Even after messing up my first pit stop when I overshot the box by quite a bit, we were able to pick our way back and save enough fuel that we made it into the lead a few times. Heading into that last pit stop, the no.9 Target car was so strong that I was so confident that we could have come out ahead of Helio (Castroneves) for the lead. It's disappointing but having a car that good today bodes well for the month of May."
The Target Team returns stateside early this week and begins preparations for the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500, starting with the first day of practice on Tuesday, May 9th at the famed 2.5 mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway.