Kanaan Prevails at Richmond Keeping his cool when almost all others were losing theirs on a hot, sultry Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway, Tony Kanaan dominated the second half of the SunTrust Indy Challenge, leading 166 of the...
Kanaan Prevails at Richmond
Keeping his cool when almost all others were losing theirs on a hot, sultry Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway, Tony Kanaan dominated the second half of the SunTrust Indy Challenge, leading 166 of the 300 laps to score his first IndyCar Series triumph of 2008.
Kanaan's strongest challenger through the first two-thirds of the contest was his Andretti Green Racing teammate Marco Andretti, who led 90 laps until his team elected to go "off sequence" in his pit stops due to the high number of cautions and the possibility of a rain-shortened event. However, the strategy backfired when the rain never came and the final 72 laps ran caution-free. As a result, Andretti was forced to make his final pit stop under green flag conditions and dropped off the lead lap, finishing ninth.
It was another typically successful weekend for Honda, engine supplier for the full IndyCar Series. A total of 26 Honda-powered drivers ran 6,400 miles of practice, qualifying and racing this weekend without a single engine-related failure reported.
The race was interrupted nine times by the caution flag, including seven for crashes that eliminated 10 of the 26 cars in the starting field, but all without injury to the drivers involved.
One of those to crash out was rookie Jamie Camara, who to that point was having his strongest race of the season for Conquest Racing, as the Brazilian came from his 24th starting position to lead the field for 44 laps during the middle stages of the race. Unfortunately, like several other drivers tonight, Camara lost control exiting Turn 4 on Lap 217 and made contact with the outside wall to end his night.
Almost five seconds behind Kanaan at the finish, Helio Castroneves came from 18th on the starting grid to finish second, his eighth top-five finish in nine races this year. The Team Penske driver remains second in the championship standings, 43 points behind leader Scott Dixon.
Meanwhile, Dixon passed his slowing Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, Dan Wheldon, to finish third. KV Racing Technology's Oriol Servia was the top-finishing former Champ Car driver, running fifth, with Danica Patrick rounding out the top six.
Tony Kanaan (#11 Andretti Green Racing Honda) Started 1st, finished 1st, first win of 2008, 13th career IndyCar victory: "I feel bad about Marco [Andretti]. I think he had as good a car as I did and we worked very well together early in the race. But we did it. I want to dedicate this win to my son and to Robert Clarke, who is retiring and did a lot for me, and also all the guys from HPD. This shows the strength this team has. It was a great team effort tonight. We're coming. Scott [Dixon]'s doing what he needs to do, but now we're in the chase."
Helio Castroneves (#3 Team Penske Honda) Started 18th, finished 2nd: "Wow! That's the only thing I have to say. What a race! It was a lot of fun for us, we passed a lot of cars tonight. But probably not as much fun for a lot other people. We did not have the fastest car out there, but it was not the worst, either. My car was really good on new tires, but would start sliding around more and more as the run went on. AGR [Andretti Green Racing] was very consistent, and that's what won them the race tonight. Second is definitely pretty darn good on a night like this one."
Robert Clarke (Executive Advisor, former President, Honda Performance Development) on tonight's race, his final IndyCar Series event as a part of HPD: "I have a lot of mixed emotions tonight. I've made a lot of friends in the sport, and in this series, over the years, and very much enjoyed being a part of open-wheel racing. I tried to contribute what I could to the sport. I think it's very appropriate that Tony [Kanaan] won tonight. Now that we're supplying engines to the entire field we're not supposed to have favorites, but I've watched him develop as a driver all the way from IndyLights to IndyCar Series champion, so seeing him win here is special to me. I want to thank everyone I've worked with -- all the drivers, team owners, mechanics, engineers, and of course, everyone at Honda Performance Development, my 'home for' the last 15 years -- I'm going to miss you all."