IRL: Pikes Peak: Honda race report

Franchitti Brings Home 11th Consecutive Victory for Honda Continuing a string of strong performances on Indy Racing League "short tracks", Dario Franchitti led a race-high 128 laps Sunday en route to his second IndyCar Series victory of the...

Franchitti Brings Home 11th Consecutive Victory for Honda

Continuing a string of strong performances on Indy Racing League "short tracks", Dario Franchitti led a race-high 128 laps Sunday en route to his second IndyCar Series victory of the season in the Pikes Peak Honda Indy 225. Like his earlier win this year at Milwaukee, where Franchitti led 111 laps, Pikes Peak also is a one-mile oval, and Franchitti's Andretti Green Racing Honda was again one of the best-handling cars in the field.

Franchitti moved ahead of teammate Tony Kanaan on the 30th lap and held on to his advantage until just before the first round of pit stops, when Penske Racing's Sam Hornish, Jr. moved to the front. Hornish appeared to be Franchitti's strongest challenger in the middle portion of the 225-lap contest, but then spun and crashed out on Lap 157. Other than another brief appearance at the front by Kanaan on Lap 161, Franchitti was in control for the rest of the day.

Also making a strong charge up through the field in the second half of the race, Adrian Fernandez followed up his win last weekend at Kentucky Speedway with a second-place run today. Already a two-race winner this year, Dan Wheldon kept his championship hopes very much alive with a third-place finish, two spots ahead of teammate and points leader Kanaan. Vitor Meira finished seventh in the second Rahal Letterman entry, while Bryan Herta rounded out the four-car Andretti Green Racing effort with a ninth-place finish.

Kosuke Matsuura bounced back from a crash in practice Saturday to finish 13th after starting at the rear of the 22-car field in a back-up car. Fellow rookie Mark Taylor was next across the line, 14th for Access Motorsports, while championship contender Buddy Rice had his day cut short by a crash in the opening lap. The Rahal Letterman Racing driver remains second in the standings, but is now 68 points behind leader Kanaan with four races remaining.

Next week the IRL IndyCar Series moves on to its fifth, and final, short track event of the season. The Firestone Indy 225 takes place at Nazareth Speedway on August 29.

Dario Franchitti (#27 Arca/Ex Andretti Green Racing Honda) Started 4th, finished 1st, his second victory of the season, Honda's 11th consecutive IRL race win: "We had a strong car right at the start. I probably went out a bit too strong because at the end of the stint the car got very loose. But I learned my lesson after that and didn't go out so strong right after my pit stops. I'm lucky the engineers at Andretti Green gave me a great car today and Honda obviously brought us some major horsepower. These low-grip tracks really suit my driving style and I was able to take advantage of that today.

Adrian Fernandez (#5 Telmex/Quaker State Fernandez Racing Honda) Started 7th, finished 2nd, moves up to seventh in the drivers' championship: "I'm very happy. It was an exciting race today. The team gave me a great car and quick pit stops. I was very aggressive on the restarts. I got too aggressive once, got up into the 'marbles' and had to back out of the throttle and watch a lot of guys pass me down the inside. We got them all back, one by one, except for Dario [Franchitti]. I just didn't have enough for him today. But we've built some huge momentum these last couple of races. I'm happy about that and very proud of my guys today."

Dan Wheldon (#26 Jim Beam/Klein Tools Andretti Green Racing Honda) Started 2nd, finished 3rd, remains third in the drivers' championship: "It's always a difficult race here at Pikes Peak. It's a combination of the altitude we race at [nearly 6,000 feet above sea level] and the layout here. And today was as difficult as we expected. The car worked well at the start of each run, then went off, then came back a little just before each pit stop. Dario [Franchitti] was a very deserving winner. His car seems to be very good at all the short ovals this year. It was a good day for the entire Andretti Green Racing team."

Tony Kanaan (#11 7-Eleven Andretti Green Racing Honda) Started 1st, finished 5th, continues to lead the drivers' championship: "I saw Buddy [Rice] go out at the start, and drove a conservative race after that. We made the car better at the first pit stop, then a little worse at the second. But at the end the car was good and I had a good battle with my teammate [Dan Wheldon] for a while. Fifth is a good result for us. If we can average a fifth place finish for the rest of the year we should win the championship."

Vitor Meira (#17 Centrix Financial Rahal Letterman Racing Honda) Started 3rd, finished 7th: "The car was just too loose in traffic. Every time I would make a run on another car, the rear end would break loose. When I was by myself, the car was good. I think everyone had some type of situation with a loose condition. If you were in a pack, the air would affect the car. The guy with the 'least loose' car was the best. That was Dario today. I'm sure that is what happened to Buddy, too. When you are in the middle of the pack, you have so much air coming around you that you can barely hang on to the steering wheel. If a car cuts down in front of you, the car really moves. It has a lot to do with the high altitude. And with the air from the other cars, the car is a handful. But I'm glad we were able to get seventh for Centrix, our primary sponsor, since they are based in Colorado."


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Mark Taylor , Adrian Fernandez , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Dan Wheldon , Buddy Rice , Kosuke Matsuura , Jim Beam , Sam Hornis , Vitor Meira
Teams Team Penske