Kanaan, Franchitti Finish 1-2 for Honda in Texas Andretti Green Racing teammates Tony Kanaan and Dario Franchitti proved to be "Texas Tough" Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway, the pair combining to lead 173 of the 200-lap Bombardier 500 for...
Kanaan, Franchitti Finish 1-2 for Honda in Texas
Andretti Green Racing teammates Tony Kanaan and Dario Franchitti proved to be "Texas Tough" Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway, the pair combining to lead 173 of the 200-lap Bombardier 500 for Honda's fourth Indy Racing League IndyCar Series victory in five events this year.
All of Honda's wins have been 1-2 results or better, topped by the 1-7 finish for the manufacturer at last month's Indianapolis 500. As a result, Honda currently leads the IRL Manufacturers' Championship standings with 47 points of a maximum 50 points. In addition, Kanaan's second race victory of the season, following his earlier win at Phoenix, vaults him to the top of the IRL driver's points standings ahead of his teammate and Twin Ring Motegi winner, Dan Wheldon.
In another typical Texas IndyCar battle, multiple-car "drafts" were the order of the day. But Honda drivers consistently were at the front of the field, leading all but three laps. While Franchitti set the early pace, Kanaan moved to the front for the first time on lap 23 and was rarely out of the top three thereafter. Following the final restart on lap 185, Kanaan and Franchitti teamed up to run nose-to-tail and edge away from the field in the closing laps.
Owner/driver Adrian Fernandez survived a late-race pit road collision with defending series champion Scott Dixon to run fifth, his best result since joining the IRL at the series' Phoenix race in March. Just behind Fernandez was Rahal Letterman Racing's Vitor Meira, equaling his Indianapolis 500 run with another sixth-place finish. Greg Ray and his Access Motorsports team also had their best result of the season with a seventh-place result.
Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice ran with Kanaan and Franchitti through most of the contest, leading seven laps, until contact with Darren Manning on lap 179 sent the Rahal Letterman driver to the pits and out of the race with a broken "half shaft" [the drive axle from the transmission to the rear wheels]. Rookie points leader Kosuke Matsuura led eight laps, but fell victim to mechanical problems, as did the Andretti Green duo of Bryan Herta and Wheldon.
Tony Kanaan (#11 7-Eleven Andretti Green Racing Honda) Started 3rd, finished 1st, his second win of 2004, Honda's fourth win: "At the beginning, I was running with Dario [Franchitti] and Buddy [Rice]. But soon I thought 'I have a car to win tonight' and decided to try to move to the front and set the [race] pace. The car was great all night, so I thought it would be better to be out in front and away from any trouble, and that strategy worked out pretty well for me! Every time an Andretti Green car has started from the pole this year, one of us has gone on to win the race, and I believe that reflects very well on the whole team and the effort we are making this year."
Dario Franchitti (#27 ArcaEx Andretti Green Racing Honda) Started 1st, finished 2nd: "It's a great result for the entire team. I had a great final restart and almost got around Tony [Kanaan], but I realized I didn't have anything for him at the end, so I thought it would be better for both of us just to line up and try and pull away from the field. And that's exactly how things worked out. The only problem I had all night was when I broke the transmission trying to do a victory burnout with Tony!"
Adrian Fernandez (#5 Quaker State/Telmex/Tecate Fernandez Racing Honda) Started 9th, finished 5th: "It was quite an experience. It was a tough race. You have to depend a lot on your spotter and Jeff [McComb, team coordinator] did a very good job in that respect. Our pit stops were good. I had an incident at the end of the race after the pit stop [contact with Scott Dixon] that cost us some positions, and I had to come in to check the car and we changed the tires. In all, it was a great race."
Vitor Meira (#17 Centrix Financial Rahal Letterman Racing Honda) Started 13th, finished 6th: "We had a great car tonight. I was able to go to the front and race with the leaders. It was just a big chess game out there tonight. I think there is so close of a difference between first and sixth that any one of the top six could have won. I thought we were in a good position in the closing laps, but the cars immediately in front of me starting running side-by-side so I couldn't get around them on the high side, and I couldn't hold the car down low. Still, a good result for us, and I'm looking forward to Richmond in two weeks."
Buddy Rice (#15 Argent/Pioneer Rahal Letterman Racing Honda) Started 2nd, finished 15th (not running, drive shaft): "I don't know what happened in Turn Three [when Darren Manning made contact with Rice]. I was on the outside of Tony [Kanaan] and I fell back in the turn. The next thing I knew I got hit in the side. I don't know who it even was out there. Maybe I came down a little and he came up or something else. But I had to save it and when I came into the pits the drive shaft was broken. I need to see it on the video to know exactly what happened. But I didn't hear [from the team spotter] that anyone was near me or beside me. I don't know if I had enough for Tony but I think I had the second best car. At least they knew we were here tonight. It's tough for the point chase."