IRL: Richmond: Race report

Wheldon Wins His Second Race of Season At Richmond RICHMOND, Va., Saturday, June 26, 2004 -- Dan Wheldon inherited the lead when race leaders pitted for fuel and tires on Lap 192, and ran the final 121 on one tank of fuel to win the SunTrust...

Wheldon Wins His Second Race of Season At Richmond

RICHMOND, Va., Saturday, June 26, 2004 -- Dan Wheldon inherited the lead when race leaders pitted for fuel and tires on Lap 192, and ran the final 121 on one tank of fuel to win the SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond International Raceway.

It was the second victory of the IRL IndyCar Series season for Wheldon in the No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone, and the second in a row for Andretti Green Racing. Tony Kanaan won the Bombardier 500k two weeks ago. He finished fifth in the SunTrust Indy Challenge.

A post-race review by IRL senior vice president of racing operations Brian Barnhart disallowed Helio Castroneves' pass of Vitor Meira on the final lap because the race was still under caution. Meira finished a career-best second and Castroneves, the pole sitter, third.

POST-RACE QUOTES:

DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone): (About his donuts on the frontstretch): "I didn't know how to do the donuts. I had to check. I didn't do donuts at Motegi. Tony (Kanaan) did them for me." (About his race): "A fantastic job for Andretti Green Racing. The Firestones stuck. I tried to spark the Honda at the end (for the donuts), and it didn't go, but it gave me great power in the race." (About decision to short fuel): "Knowing 'The Brother' -- we don't call him Tony Cotman (crew chief) -- we call him 'The Brother' -- I trust him, and same with (engineer) Eddie Jones. They did a good job for me. (Cotman) can work some strategy. I thought Roger Penske was good, but 'The Brother' is really good. When I first worked with him, I thought he was crazy. But look at him, he pulled it off today. I have to give 'The Brother' and Eddie Jones credit."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "I knew there was only one lap, and I went for it. With five laps to go, I was doing 16.0 (second laps), so I was going for it. Just one lap short for the victory. I was so confident. When the pace car pulled off, I knew it was going to go green. I was so focused, I didn't see anything. I just went for it."

ALEX BARRON (No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "I got bumped into Turn 1. I think the 55 car bumped on the inside and put me into the wall. It's really early in the race, and it's really a shame. We had a really good car. I think we could have moved up a lot."

DARREN MANNING (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/ Firestone): (About his accident): "(It was) just backmarkers. Scott Sharp was messing about. He just checked me and Sam (Hornish Jr.) up. Sam got out of it. He got a bit sideways, and I was right behind Sam and then just got a bit sideways and pushed up into the marbles. It's a big shame, really. Team Target and Toyota are doing such a great job. We had probably the fastest car out there. It's just a shame. The last few races have finished this way. You take some chances, and you get other people making mistakes that cost you the race."

AL UNSER JR. (No. 20 Patrick Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "The Chevy engine was great, and the Firestone tires were consistent throughout the run. We just had handling problems. We haven't gotten the handling right all weekend, and in the race, we were a moving chicane. That is not the way we race, so I brought the car in."

MARK TAYLOR (No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "It was a struggle out there. I couldn't get the thing working for me, and I was just trying to get a finish. I don't know if he (Franchitti) was down inside of me or not, but I didn't get the call. I went down to the inside, and we touched wheels. I need to look at the tape to see what happened. It is a real shame because we were working for a finish. We weren't on the pace all night, and we were just trying to get the thing worked out to see why we struggled so much."

ED CARPENTER (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "It was a stupid move that Greg Ray tried to pull. He was five laps down and should have just parked his car instead of taking me out of the race. He was driving recklessly and gave me a 16th-place finish when I had a car good enough to finish in seventh."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 1 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "The Toyota/(Panoz) G Force was pretty good at the start of the race, but for whatever reason, I started to have difficulty passing. I had quite a bit of oversteer when I got close to anyone, so traffic became my biggest issue for the rest of the race. We'll take the eighth-place finish, but the Target team is looking for a little more consistency. We know we're better than this, and we hope to show that next week in Kansas."

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (No. 5 Quaker State Telmex Tecate Panoz G Force/Honda/ Firestone): "It was a good race. The guys gave me a great race car. I managed to put myself in a good position at the start of the race by passing some people. There was a lot of contact in the race, a lot of avoiding accidents and a few close calls. The car was very consistent throughout the whole race, and we had good pit stops. At the end, I was hit by (Tomas) Scheckter trying to avoid the accident that (Dario) Franchitti had. It broke some of my right-side aerodynamic pieces, but the car was fine. I couldn't believe it. That's two races in a row. These cars are built very strongly, for sure. At the end, there were a lot of yellows and not enough laps left to fight with the other guys. I thought I had a car for a top three, but our time will come."

A.J. FOYT IV (No. 14 Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "We had a good race. The Conseco car was competitive all night. We were passing cars, and we stayed out of trouble. We could still run hard, so it was fun for me as a driver. We got our best finish of the year, so I'm happy about that."

FELIPE GIAFFONE (No. 24 Team Purex Dreyer & Reinbold Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "We just didn't have enough time to get the car exactly where I wanted it. I didn't have the grip we wished for, so we went down one lap quickly. You let one car by and then you really lose position because it's all about momentum. Overall, I have to be happy because we're gaining as a team, and in the next two or three races, I hope to be right there."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "The Marlboro Team Penske crew gave me a great car. We could run high or low, and we were able to work our way through the traffic and run up front. Unfortunately, I touched wheels with the No. 4 car (Tomas Scheckter), damaging the front wing. The guys did a great job replacing the wing and getting me back on the track, but at that point, we were four laps down. That's what can happen when we're racing so close. We really need to catch a break and get through a race without getting hit or me making a mistake. The guys have worked so hard and put great, competitive cars under me every race, and I just feel bad for them because we keep having problems."

BRYAN HERTA (No. 7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We had great cars. We split the strategy there, and Dan (Wheldon) took the risk, and it worked out for them. It's great that they won. We had a good car, too, and I think we could have been right up there."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It was a good race. We got what we could. In the position we were in, we couldn't gamble like Dan (Wheldon) did, so I'm happy for him. One more win for the Andretti Green Racing team, and four out of the six races, so we are looking pretty strong. I'm happy. I gained a lot of points, am still leading the championship, and from now on, that's what I'm going to do, keep leading the championship."

BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Racing Pioneer/Argent Mortgage Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "The car wasn't what we were hoping for tonight. It was sliding too much. At the end, I didn't have the tires to hold off Tony (Kanaan) and Bryan (Herta). They had about 60 less laps on their tires at the end, but the Firestones held up great for over 100 laps at the finish. We ran 115 laps on the last set. We still need to work on the short-track setup with the (Panoz) G Force. We are still learning this car for the short tracks, but we did find a direction to go now, and that is optimistic. I know we'll be ready for Kansas. That is a lot like Texas."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Centrix Panoz G Force/ Honda/Firestone): "We had the white and green flag, so I restarted normally, but the yellow (light) kept blinking. I thought something happened behind me in the pack that I didn't know about because of the yellow. My spotter said, 'Still yellow, still yellow,' so I didn't get a good jump on the restart. When Helio (Castroneves) passed me, I realized there must have been a mistake, so I got on the gas. My thought was to stay slow because of the yellow."

KIM GREEN (President, Andretti Green Racing): "Certainly, I wasn't up in race control to see what happened. I'm disappointed that the actual race results are different from what the fans saw, but I'm sure the League reviewed all the information and made the decision based on what actually happened."

***

The next IRL IndyCar Series event is the Argent Mortgage Kansas Indy 300 at 12:30 p.m. (EDT) July 4 at Kansas Speedway. The race will be broadcast live on ABC and the IMS Radio Network. The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series event is the Aventis Racing for Kids 100 at 5:45 p.m. (EDT) on July 3 at Kansas Speedway. The race will be broadcast by ESPN2 on a tape-delayed basis on July 4.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Greg Ray , Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Chip Ganassi , Roger Penske , A.J. Foyt , Brian Barnhart , Jim Beam , Vitor Meira
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing