IRL: Phoenix: Round three race report

Kanaan Dominates in The Desert, Takes Points Lead AVONDALE, Ariz., Sunday, March 21, 2004 -- Tony Kanaan completed a dominating weekend for Andretti Green Racing leading 191 of 200 laps to win the Copper World Indy 200 on March 21 at Phoenix ...

Kanaan Dominates in The Desert, Takes Points Lead

AVONDALE, Ariz., Sunday, March 21, 2004 -- Tony Kanaan completed a dominating weekend for Andretti Green Racing leading 191 of 200 laps to win the Copper World Indy 200 on March 21 at Phoenix International Raceway.

Kanaan's performance was the most dominant performance in an IRL IndyCar® Series event since Scott Dixon led all 206 laps in the rain-shortened event at Richmond in 2003.

Kanaan's win allowed him to take a six-point lead over Marlboro Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves. Scott Dixon was second, followed by pole sitter Dan Wheldon.

Sam Hornish Jr., who won the season-opening Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead, Fla., finished 15th -- falling to fourth in the points.

In other IndyCar Series news, U.E. "Pat" Patrick announced he will field an IndyCar Series team beginning at the Indianapolis 500 in May. Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. will drive the No. 20 Patrick Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone entry. Steve Newey will be Unser's engineer.

COPPER WORLD INDY 200 POST-RACE QUOTES

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (No. 5 Quaker State Telmex Tecate Panoz G Force/Honda/ Firestone): "It was something I did to the gearbox. On the warm-up lap at the start, I went down to get the right gear for the start of the race, and I heard a noise in the gearbox. These gearboxes are a lot different, and I probably didn't do a complete downshift. When I started the race, I was in the right gear, but when I tried to go from fourth to fifth, there was no gear there. I completely lost drive. It's unfortunate because today was the day that we needed to learn what to expect from the car."

ED CARPENTER (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I was going into Turn 1 on that lap, and (Tora) Takagi was trying to go under Greg Ray. Scott Sharp, a lapped car, was in the mix. I tried to take advantage of it and shoot under Scott. I tried to turn in a little too hard and just pinched it off and spun out. It was just impatience on my part. We had a really good car, and I'm proud of the guys. It's a shame. It's my mistake, and it's unacceptable."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): (It seemed like Scott Dixon was closing on you at the end): "Closing is one thing, passing is another. At that point, he was strong, but we could hold him up, and I'm happy. I think the team did a great job; it's not just me. I just drove the car around, but the team made great pit stops. Honda has been working hard. That's the best thing that we can give to the guys that work hard in the shop. The win is the perfect thing. After 21 years racing, sometimes I know what I'm doing."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 1 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/ Firestone): "We had a really good car. It's just sort of hard to pass here. You couldn't get a run on somebody. It just seemed really hard. I think sometimes I had a better car than Tony (Kanaan). On new tires, it looked like he was a little better. It's kind of a shame that we had that yellow towards the end there because I think his car would have have fallen off a little more, but a good day for Team Target. It's good points."

DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Toyota): "It's certainly excellent for Andretti Green Racing. I'm certainly happy for TK (Tony Kanaan). He was on a mission from nowhere. I'm very happy for him and his 7-Eleven crew. The Klein Tools/Jim Beam car was strong at the start of the run but went a little loose at the end. If we can keep having results like this when we're struggling a little bit, I'm really looking forward to my first win. I'm happy, but I'm more happy for Tony. That was a race where I just have to bring it home. I'm happy that I brought it home. I'm really happy for Andretti Green Racing. They deserve this more than any team out there. They work hard. They put four competitive cars together. I don't think too many people have ever done that."

ALEX BARRON (No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Quite happy overall. We moved up a long ways, obviously. We were a little bit conservative at the end with the pick up on the tires. I thought maybe I could get third, but I'm real happy with the result. I struggled a bit this weekend, a little bit in qualifying, and to have a good race car, that's what we were concentrating on in warmup. The engineering staff and the guys put together a good car for me. The Red Bull Cheever Racing Chevrolet-powered car ran great in the race. We just struggled a bit early in the weekend, but we came back, and that's what counts."

DARREN MANNING (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/ Firestone): "I'm pretty pleased, really. I didn't want to make any silly mistakes. I had a really fast car in the second half of the race. On my own, I was storming, really. We were really, really fast. I could have made some moves, but on these little, short, mile ovals, you do have to do real dive-bomb moves. After a solid result at Homestead, this early in the season, I didn't want to make any silly mistakes. Fifth place is great for me and Team Target. We had a great car all weekend, and obviously, (teammate) Scott (Dixon) got second place, so a second and a fifth is pretty good."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "The car was really loose at the start of the race, so we made a front wing adjustment during our first pit stop, which was a huge improvement. After that, I could run with the leaders, but unfortunately at this point, we were a lap down. I just stayed with Tony (Kanaan) and Scott (Dixon,) and on the next pit stop, my crew did a great job getting me out in front of them, which put me back on the lead lap. The Marlboro Team Penske car was really good for the rest of the race. We just kept working our way through traffic, and during the last yellow, we decided to stop twice to make additional adjustments to the front wing and go for it. We were able to gain a position at the end, and bring it home in sixth to maintain second place in the points."

BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Pioneer/Argent Mortgage Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "That wasn't the day we had planned. I got a decent start, and we picked off a couple of guys in the first 10 laps. But the car just wanted to push to the wall. I think that was the case for many guys. I ran with Bryan (Herta) for a long time and I thought I was quicker. But by lap 20, it was all I could do to hang on and turn the car. Surprising though, I was catching the leaders as they were in traffic. But catching people was one thing. Passing them was another. You could see that with the leaders. I had Tony (Kanaan) and Sam (Hornish) coming up on me fast, but I stayed on my line and they couldn't run by me. You really had to give them room so they could pass. In the second stint, I probably drove the car too hard and I burned off the tires too quickly. We went with different tire pressures looking to cure our push. I tried to drive it harder to see if the front end would stick but it wouldn't. So after that I was holding on until the second yellow with Ed (Carpenter). We went back to our original setup and the car wasn't as bad as the second run. But it never did turn into the corners like we wanted."

TORA TAKAGI (No. 12 Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "It was a very long and hot afternoon. The track was especially slippery after the (USAC) Silver Crown race earlier in the day. As the track cleared up, the Pioneer team did a great job adjusting the car and improving our position on the track. I am very excited to be leaving Phoenix with another top-10 finish. I leave tomorrow to go home to Japan where I will be participating in quite a few PR-related activities surrounding the Motegi event."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "We had a real fast race car today. We could move in and out of traffic as well as anyone else out there. The Marlboro Team Penske car had a little bit of push in Turn 2, and then it got loose after we put on our second set of tires. It caught me by surprise, and I ended up brushing the wall. It would've been nice to start the season with two wins, but that's the way things go sometimes. It's a long season, so now we just have to work hard and start thinking about Japan."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Arca/Ex Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It was obviously a difficult track out there today. We had a very good car. There is no doubt we were making some progress in traffic and it came down to the four of us at the end. I had a couple of runs at Tomas (Scheckter.) One time he blocked me, and one time we drove side-by-side for a lap, and that was pretty interesting, but I couldn't get by him. I came up into Turn 3 behind him, and no one told me it was a yellow. The first thing I knew it was yellow was Tomas getting off the throttle, which he obviously had to do because there was a wreck. But nobody told me it had gone yellow, and I tried to slow down but I took both of us out. It's very frustrating because I understand it was yellow for a half a lap, but I don't why why I wasn't informed about it. I am disappointed for the Arca/Ex team. Today we had a good car. One of those things."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I heard yellow, yellow, yellow and I slowed down and got hit from behind."

ROBBIE BUHL (No. 24 Purex/Dreyer & Reinbold Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "The rear of the car came around on me as I was trying to gain some spots in front of us. I'm sorry for all our guys, it creates a lot of work but it's part of the game."

***

The next IRL IndyCar Series event is the Japan Indy 300 on April 17 at Twin Ring Motegi. The race will be broadcast by ESPN2. The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series event is the Freedom 100 on May 22 at the Indianapolis Motor.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Greg Ray , Al Unser Jr. , Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Chip Ganassi , Jim Beam , Sam Hornish Jr. , Mo Nunn
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing