Target Team Toughs it out at Texas Dallas / Ft. Worth, Texas, June 12th, 2004-- Texas Motor Speedway's 1.5 mile oval certainly proved to be a tough test of perseverance and patience for Target Chip Ganassi Racing drivers Scott Dixon and Darren...
Target Team Toughs it out at Texas
Dallas / Ft. Worth, Texas, June 12th, 2004-- Texas Motor Speedway's 1.5 mile oval certainly proved to be a tough test of perseverance and patience for Target Chip Ganassi Racing drivers Scott Dixon and Darren Manning throughout the 200 lap action packed Saturday night race. With a new engine and aerodynamic package designed to slow cars, more wheel-to-wheel action was expected for the Bombardier 500, but both fans and especially the drivers got a little more than that, as contact between cars was the predominant factor in the race which was eventually won by Tony Kanaan, who claimed his second IRL IndyCar Series victory of the season.
Darren Manning kept his Target crew busy with two nose cone changes to the no.10 car due to various incidents of contact with other cars, and worked his way from a 14th place starting position to find himself battling for 2nd place with Buddy Rice. Contact between their two cars on lap 181 eventually put both out of contention for the win, with Manning having to settle for an 8th place finish.
"Well, I got a chance to work my way up several times," said Manning who is fifth in the championship standings with 124 points. "I'm just so pleased at the way this Target team works together. The engineers on both cars were constantly working on helping the handling of the cars throughout the race and helped me get the best out of the car. There was lots of action out there and with the guys running side by side like that it would cut the air and downforce making the cars lighter and that's probably why there was so much contact in this race. Buddy (Rice) and I were both going for it at the end. I had some good runs coming out of turn 2 and 4 and chose to make a move down low out of 2. Buddy gave me some room but I had nowhere to go. It's disappointing but I'll take the points and get ready for the next one."
Scott Dixon had his hands full as well as he battled hard from his 16th place on the grid, moving his way up the leaderboard on various occasions, and seeing his fair share of contact as well, even looking like a ping pong ball as he was jostled between two cars early in the race.
"The car was okay early on, but after the first bit of contact I think I may have bent a front toe slightly and that ended up causing some drag," said Dixon of one of the factors that stymied his chances of running with the leaders. "Later on, I also had some trouble on an in lap on the green flag pit stop and ended up losing the lead pack, but when we were with the pack we were able to move our way up. At the end there was contact between Adrian Fernandez and I in the pits and that broke my front suspension. It's unfortunate to have your race end like that but the Target team is just going to concentrate on what's ahead."
Despite his second DNF of the season, with the points from this 14th place finish, Dixon still finds himself sixth in the IndyCar series Championship standings.
Target team owner Chip Ganassi sees lots of positives that can be taken from the race weekend from which the team expects to successfully build on by the time they make their return to Texas for the season finale, where they won the championship in 2003 with Scott Dixon.
"Darren Manning certainly showed he can run with the leaders tonight," affirmed a proud Chip Ganassi. "With a little more to work with, he will be that much stronger. Scott Dixon did all that he could as well and both Target drivers were looking very good there for a while. The team worked very hard to give these guys the best car they could with what they had and I'm very happy with the Target team's efforts this weekend. I like what I see and despite the end result here tonight, it's going to look good from here on through to the end of the season."
Target Chip Ganassi Racing now heads to an IRL Open Test in Milwaukee this week before heading to Virginia for the sixth race in 16-race 2004 season, the SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond International Speedway. Fans can watch the race on ESPN2 at 7:30 pm (EDT) Saturday, June 26th or they can listen in on the IMS Radio Network. Throughout the 2004 season, fans are invited to follow the team's progress by logging onto their official website at target.com/racing for news, features, photos and much more.