Kanaan Charges to Third in Fast Texas Race Although he started deep in the field in 13th, defending IndyCar Series Champion Tony Kanaan charged through the field -- picking up six positions in the first three laps alone -- and led a total of...
Kanaan Charges to Third in Fast Texas Race
Although he started deep in the field in 13th, defending IndyCar Series Champion Tony Kanaan charged through the field -- picking up six positions in the first three laps alone -- and led a total of 62 laps before finishing third to lead the Honda contingent Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway. The race was won by Panther Racing's Tomas Scheckter, with Sam Hornish, Jr., just fifty-three thousandths of a second behind in the 10th-closest finish in Indy Racing League history.
In a fast and remarkably clean race -- the last 129 laps were caution-free -- two separate "packs" developed in the closing laps, headed by a five-car lead group made up of Scheckter, Hornish, Kanaan, Scott Sharp and Helio Castroneves. In what has become almost a traditional finish at the 1.5-mile high banked track, Scheckter and Hornish finished virtually side-by-side, as did the closely trailing Kanaan and Sharp, having another strong run for Delphi Fernandez Racing. Castroneves rounded out the top five in his Team Penske entry.
Just behind the lead group, a second pack of six cars had its own side-by-side duels to the checkered flag. Current series points leader and Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon crossed the finish line in sixth place, just a wheel ahead of Super Aguri Fernandez Racings Kosuke Matsuura, in seventh for his best result of the season. The next pair across the line consisted of Andretti Green Racing's Dario Franchitti and Vitor Meira, leading the Rahal Letterman Racing team in ninth. Bryan Herta, one of six race leaders, was next to round out the top 10 finishers.
Rookie points leader Danica Patrick started third; and finished 13th in her first race on the Texas high banks, with Roger Yasukawa an appearance-deceiving 15th for Dreyer and Reinbold Racing. The veteran faded in the late laps after running solidly in the top 10 through the first half of the race. Buddy Rice's return to the cockpit after suffering a neck injury at Indianapolis was a short one, as the 2004 Indy winner dropped out with transmission failure after just 25 laps.
Tony Kanaan (#11 7-Eleven Andretti Green Racing Honda) Started 13th, finished 3rd, his fourth top-three finish in six races: "We had a competitive car tonight, but not the fastest car. The fastest car won, and Tomas [Scheckter] deserved his victory, so congratulations to him. What is important for us is that the team picked up a lot of momentum. We didn't qualify all that well, but we had a very good race car and that took us to the front right away. And we were able to stay in the lead group throughout the race. That was something we haven't been doing lately, so I think the race we ran here will help us with the rest of the season. We made up some ground in the points, and we'll continue to do that as well."
Scott Sharp (#8 Delphi Fernandez Racing Honda) Started 16th, finished 4th, his third top-five finish of 2005: "I am really ecstatic. We were pretty loose early in the race and for the first couple of stints, I really had to fight the car a bit in traffic. The team just did an awesome job. They did a great job in the pits and that catapulted us forward. Chris [Finch] and John [Ward], our engineers, made some great changes on the car and really dialed us in. It was a great finish for us. I tried to get Tony [Kanaan] there at the end. I got a couple of runs up but I just didn't have enough speed to get around him."
Dan Wheldon (#26 Jim Beam/Klein Tools Andretti Green Racing Honda) Started 8th, finished 6th, continues to lead the IndyCar championship points standings: "Overall, I was about three miles an hour off the pace set by Tomas [Scheckter] and [Sam] Hornish, and that's why we struggled in the race. The boys did a good job in the pits, and we hung in there all night long, but I think we have a little bit of work to do before our next super speedway race."
Kosuke Matsuura (#55 Super Aguri Fernandez Racing Honda) Started 14th, finished 7th, his best finish of the season, set second-fastest race lap of 215.683 mph on Lap 163: "It was an outstanding race for us. Except for the last pit stop, our strategy, our car, our setup, just everything was perfect. On the last pit stop when I entered the pit lane, there was another car in front of me and I lost of couple of seconds there. On the out lap, I lost front end grip and nearly went onto the race track [from the warmup lane]. It was scary. The car was really good at the end. On the last lap, I was in sixth but Dan Wheldon was a little bit quicker, so I had to give up a position. But I think we did a great race."
Vitor Meira (#17 Menards Rahal Letterman Racing Honda) Started 5th, finished 9th: "We had a good car tonight. But we lost contact with the lead pack in the middle of the race, and couldn't get back in touch with them. The bigger [lead] pack was able to pull away from our smaller pack. I was surprised by so many green flag laps, too. It wasn't like a normal Texas race with a lot of yellow flags in the middle of the race. I think we ran the last 120 laps under green. That is very surprising. My car felt very good all race. In fact, I ran flat-out [on the throttle] for one and a half stints [fuel runs]. Actually, my right foot was getting sore from pushing on the throttle. I was able to stay in fifth in points and we are going to Richmond next. I was second there last year, so maybe we can be better this time around."