Concrete Effort for Target Team at Nashville Results in Two Tops Ten Finishes Nashville, Tennessee, Saturday, July 16th, 2005-- Even after scattered showers washed out Friday's qualifying session and starting positions for the Firestone Indy...
Concrete Effort for Target Team at Nashville Results in Two Tops Ten Finishes
Nashville, Tennessee, Saturday, July 16th, 2005-- Even after scattered showers washed out Friday's qualifying session and starting positions for the Firestone Indy 200 Saturday night race were determined from combined practice times, Target Chip Ganassi Racing's felt they were in a good position to have a strong showing at Nashville SuperSpeedway. And they were right. It would end up being one of the team's better performances of the season to date resulting in two top tens.
Darren Manning's no.10 Target car was be the highest Toyota powered entry to start the race from the inside of row five after posting the ninth fastest time in Friday practice. Ryan Briscoe was right beside him in tenth and Scott Dixon not far behind in 12th spot on the grid.
From the moment the green flag dropped, it was a "concrete" jungle out there and the natives were restless. Due to the abrasive nature of the track surface, excess rubber on the outside line made running side by side and passing quite the adventure. The Target team was faring well with Briscoe's no.33 Toyota Panoz having made his way up into fifth place by lap 88 and Scott Dixon and Darren Manning working together to maintain their speeds and their positions on the lead lap keeping the leaders at bay behind them.
Just as they were looking for a caution to help their cause, a yellow flag came out on lap 116 and the field started to slow, but from the corner of his eye, Manning caught a quick glimpse of leader Tony Kanaan heading his way. A suspension break sent Kanaan into the no.10 Target car and heavy contact between them and the wall, ended the day prematurely for Manning.
"Scott (Dixon) and I were working really well together putting up some good lap times and holding off the leaders," said Manning who was credited with a 20th place finish. "The yellow we were looking for came out for debris. I slowed down but I knew Tony (Kanaan) was close behind so tried to give him some room. Sounds like he had his suspension break and we made contact. There was nothing I could do. It's so unfortunate because I really had the Target Toyota Panoz where I wanted it after putting front wing in on the earlier stops."
On a subsequent restart, Briscoe went to the highline to make a pass when contact with the wall sent him into the pits for a new tire and dropped him down to 14th spot. The young rookie made his way back up the field once again to post his best finish of the season to date with an eighth place.
"The Target team prepared a great car for me today," said Briscoe. "I had some push at the start that held me up but we fixed that in the early stops. I was working my way up when I was passing (Tomas) Scheckter on the outside and he pushed me up into the wall. I had to come in for a new tire and almost lost a lap. It was disappointing because we really had the car for a top 5 finish but the Target Toyota was definitely competitive and we'll look to be stronger in Milwaukee."
Dixon kept his no.9 Target Toyota clear of any trouble to post a season high sixth place, equaling his performance on the streets of St. Pete earlier in the season.
"I struggled with the final two restarts at the end there because we decided to only take on fuel on that last stop but I'm pretty satisfied with the race we ran." said Dixon. "The Target team gave me a good car and this result is certainly something to build on. We just want to keep moving forward."
Dario Franchitti took the win at Nashville Superspeedway after passing Patrick Carpentier on lap 194. Sam Hornish would take second spot away from Carpentier with a white flag lap pass. Dan Wheldon, despite not finishing the race with mechanical issues still remains the leader in the hunt for the IndyCar series championship title.
The rest of the summer will be rather busy as the IndyCar Series will run six races in the next seven weeks. As the lyrics to the song made famous by country music legends George Jones and Tammy Wynette say, "Milwaukee Here I Come from Nashville, Tennessee" Target Chip Ganassi Racing will head on down Highway 65 to their headquarters in Indianapolis, IN. before making their way to the historic Milwaukee Mile for the next stop in the IndyCar series schedule. The ABC Supply Company -A.J. Foyt 225 will be presented on Sunday, July 24th at 12:30 pm EDT