Team 7-Eleven's Kanaan retakes points lead with runner-up finish at Gateway MADISON, Ill. (Aug. 10, 2003) -- Team 7-Eleven driver Tony Kanaan netted his third runner-up finish of the 2003 season Sunday at Gateway International Raceway and, in ...
Team 7-Eleven's Kanaan retakes points lead with runner-up finish at Gateway
MADISON, Ill. (Aug. 10, 2003) -- Team 7-Eleven driver Tony Kanaan netted his third runner-up finish of the 2003 season Sunday at Gateway International Raceway and, in the process, moved back to the top of the Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar^Ù Series point standings.
Kanaan, who started third in the #11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, established his presence early by taking the lead just five laps into the race and then stayed there for 17 circuits. The 28-year-old Brazilian ran second for the next 50 laps before again taking the point 75 laps into the 200-lap event.
By the midpoint of the race, Kanaan had dropped back to fifth, but slowly began to re- assert himself with the front-runners. He passed Michigan winner Alex Barron for fourth with 80 laps to go and then moved to third with the help of his Team 7-Eleven pit crew 59 laps from the end. When leader Scott Dixon exited the event on lap 158, Kanaan found himself in the #2 spot behind Helio Castroneves. Following a restart on lap 166, Kanaan stalked the leader while holding off the charges of Gil de Ferran, but never found an opportunity to mount a sustained challenge for the win. The three drivers clicked off the final stage of the race nose-to-tail and went on to finish in that order.
Tomas Scheckter finished fourth on Sunday and was followed by Kanaan's Andretti Green Racing teammate Dan Wheldon, who scored the second top-five finish of his rookie season in the #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone.
Kanaan's performance -- coupled with Dixon's misfortune -- shuffled the top four in the IndyCar Series standings with five races remaining. Kanaan, who has eight top-five and nine top-10 finishes this season, now leads de Ferran 357-350. The top two are followed by Castroneves, who has tallied 347 points, and Dixon, who now sits at 333.
The IndyCar Series continues next weekend at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Ky., with the Belterra Indy 300. Qualifying for Round 12 of the 16-race series is set for Saturday with the 200-lap race slated for Sunday at 2 p.m. (EDT) -- live on ABC Sports.
TONY KANAAN, #11 TEAM 7-ELEVEN DALLARA/HONDA/FIRESTONE:
"I gave it everything I had and it wasn't enough for Helio. But, hey -- the championship lead is back with us, so we've got to keep going forward. That's what we are here for -- we are fighting for the championship. I gave 100 percent to win this race today, but I couldn't do it, so I'll take second.
"The whole 7-Eleven team did a great job and we're back in the lead. This is what we needed."
KIM GREEN, PRESIDENT, ANDRETTI GREEN RACING:
"This was pretty exciting short-track racing. The car wasn't perfect in all conditions. We certainly were fast by ourselves, but in traffic, it wasn't quite what we needed. We've got to work on that. We've got another short-track coming up in a couple weeks. But, it was a great weekend by everybody. We worked hard all weekend. We had great pit stops -- that last pit stop we passed a couple guys in the pits, so it was great teamwork. Tony drove a good, solid race. We just didn't quite have enough to beat [Helio] Castroneves. But, it puts us back in the points lead, which is great, although five races is still a long way to go."
- AGR -