IRL: Nashville: Race report

LEBANON, Tenn., Saturday, July 17, 2004 – Andretti Green Racing driver Tony Kanaan passed teammate Dan Wheldon for the lead on a Lap 181 restart and held off Sam Hornish Jr.’s pass attempt on the final lap to win the Firestone Indy 200 at ...

LEBANON, Tenn., Saturday, July 17, 2004 – Andretti Green Racing driver Tony Kanaan passed teammate Dan Wheldon for the lead on a Lap 181 restart and held off Sam Hornish Jr.’s pass attempt on the final lap to win the Firestone Indy 200 at Nashville Superspeedway on July 17.

It was the third victory of the season for Kanaan, the IRL IndyCar® Series points leader who started fifth in this race.

"I was concerned, but I knew we were strong, and I just needed to hold (Sam Hornish Jr.) up, and that is what I did,” said Kanaan, who leads Wheldon by 61 points. “We did struggle in the beginning, and we were struggling a little bit in the end, too. To capitalize, I had to finish in the top three, and they gave me the win, so I’ll take it."

Hornish Jr. was second and his Marlboro Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves finished third.

They were followed to the finish line by Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Darren Manning and Townsend Bell, who was making his second start in the No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.

Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice, who won the MBNA Pole Award, finished sixth after making contact with Wheldon on Lap 176.

Rice's Rahal Letterman Racing teammate Vitor Meira, who started on the front row, led the first 113 laps. But he stalled the No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Centrix Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone during a pit stop. He finished 12th.

I think (teammate) Vitor Meira and I had the strongest cars, but the best cars don’t always win, like tonight,” Rice said. “We’ll regroup and get prepared for Milwaukee and Michigan. I know we’ll be right at the front again at those places.”

In the Menards Infiniti Pro Series Cleanevent 100, Thiago Medeiros became the first Indy Racing League driver to win four consecutive races as he led all 77 laps of the event.

The team did a good job,” said Medeiros, who leads Paul Dana by 96 points. They gave me a great start this weekend. We were quickest in all the sessions that we had here. I think I did the easiest part, I just drove the car around.”

Medeiros set the series record for most wins from the pole position and also equaled the series record for wins in a season.

Dana and rookie Jesse Mason finished second and third, respectively, to equal their career-best finishes.

FIRESTONE INDY 200 POST-RACE NOTES: • This is Andretti Green Racing’s fifth win this season and the sixth since joining the IndyCar Series. • Rookie Mark Taylor, making his debut with Access Motorsports recorded his career-best finish of seventh.

<pre> TOP 10 IN INDYCAR SERIES POINTS: 1. Tony Kanaan 325 2. Dan Wheldon 264 3. Buddy Rice 253 4. Helio Castroneves 242 5. Sam Hornish Jr. 200 6. Scott Dixon 188 7. Darren Manning 187 8. Bryan Herta 177 9. Dario Franchitti 173 10. Vitor Meira 170

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Mark Taylor , Darren Manning , Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Townsend Bell , Dan Wheldon , Buddy Rice , Paul Dana , Chip Ganassi , Jesse Mason , Sam Hornish Jr. , Thiago Medeiros , Vitor Meira
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing