DETROIT, MI - Tony Kanaan kept his hopes for a second IndyCar Series title alive, winning a crash filled Detroit Indy Grand Prix at the Raceway at Belle Isle.
Kanaan, who claimed his IndyCar Series-best fifth victory this season, stayed on the track while most of the leaders pitted during a late-race caution and was in front when IndyCar Series officials declared the race a timed event rather than its scheduled 90 laps due to the mandated 2 hour, 10 minute time limit for all road/street events because of the six crashes.
But as the leaders raced on the next-to-last lap of the 89-lap event, the second-place car of Buddy Rice ran out of fuel, triggering a three-car accident that also involved IndyCar Series title contenders Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti.
Despite being involved in two incidences on track Danica Patrick avoided the wreckage to finish a career-best second. Dan Wheldon was third followed by Darren Manning and Kosuke Matsuura.
Polesitter Helio Castroneves and Tomas Scheckter struck the turn 1 wall on lap 67 to bring out a full-course yellow and bunch the field. Points leader Scott Dixon beat Dario Franchitti out of the pits after both drivers stopped for fuel.
Franchitti, who assumed the lead after Castroneves’ lap-25 pit stop, led Kanaan for most of the middle stretch of the race, but lost the lead during a lap-49 stop. Franchitti led the most laps and collected three bonus points.
The first yellow flag came on lap 27 when Ed Carpenter stalled near turn eight. Danica Patrick, Vitor Meira, Sam Hornish and Sarah Fisher tangled during a lap-31 incident that knocked the latter three cars out of the race. Hornish was hit by Sarah Fisher and appeared to injure his wrist.
His hand was covered with an ice bag after he got out of the damaged car.
Scott Sharp, who ran into Darren Manning early in the race, struck Patrick and hit a turn-eight tire barrier on lap 47 to bring out a third caution. Carpenter stalled again on lap 55 to bring out a brief yellow.
All of the incidences allowed two of the slower drivers in the race to join Kanaan on the podium
Patrick stayed on the track and led briefly before a round of stops dropped her back into the middle of the pack. She was far behind the lead quartet when Rice, Dixon and Franchitti crashed and got past the wreckage to claim the second spot.
Castroneves, who won the last two races held here before the event took a six-year hiatus, led the first 25 laps but pitted five laps after most of the field. He ended the day 12th with his fifth DNF of the season.
He had words with Scheckter as he made his way back to his trailer from the course medical center.
The 2.1-mile circuit was shorter than the one used the last time open-wheel cars ran here in 2001 and was widened to permit more passing, but the only lead changes came in the pit area.
Despite the accident, which dropped Franchitti from fourth to sixth, he ended the day three points ahead of Dixon in the championship standings heading into the season-ending race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. Kanaan, 39 points behind his teammate, remains mathematically alive in the championship hunt.
The next IndyCar Series event is the PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 presented by Mr. Clean at 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 9 at Chicagoland Speedway. The race will be televised live by ABC and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. The next Indy Pro Series event is the Chicagoland 100 on Sept. 9 at Chicagoland Speedway.
DAY 3 NOTEBOOK:
- Joe Dumars, the Detroit Pistons' president of basketball operations and a Pro Basketball Hall of Famer, says TV doesn't do justice to IndyCar Series racing.
- "Unless you've been at a race in person, you can't appreciate it," said Dumars, the honorary starter and a past visitor to the Indianapolis 500. "People don't understand the size of NBA players and people don't understand the speed of these cars.
- "Any time I can be a part of something like this is great. It's great for the city of Detroit. All the people who have made this happen, my hats off to them because they are doing this because they want to and not because they have to. That's when you know it's genuine."
DETROIT INDY GRAND PRIX POST-RACE NOTES:
- This is Tony Kanaan's fifth win of the season and his 12th career IndyCar Series win. His last win Kentucky last month.
- This is Andretti Green Racing's 31st win in the IndyCar Series, the most by any entrant in the IndyCar Series.
Danica Patrick finished a career-best second. Her previous best was third at Texas and Nashville this year. It is also her best road/street course finish. Patrick matches Sarah Fisher's 2001 mark for best finish by a female driver in a major open-wheel event.
- This is the second consecutive season that the points lead has changed with two races remaining and then again with one race remaining. This also occurred in 2002.
- Darren Manning matched his career-best finish of fourth. He last finished fourth at Pikes Peak in August 2004.
DETROIT INDY GRAND PRIX POST-RACE QUOTES:
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, winner Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix): "It was a tough race. We got a good start. I got ahead of Dario and at that point I had to save fuel because we did not put a lot of fuel in. The luck was on my side, we got another yellow and that worked out perfecttly. Some of the races this year, luck was on the opposite side of me and it looks like we turned that situation around here at the end of the season. So five wins in the season. We're going for six - trying to break Dan's (Wheldon) record. So we'll see. We're very happy for the whole 7-Eleven Team. I've got to thank the fans. I've got to thank Roger Penske for bringing this race back. It's a great event. I'm glad we're going to come back here next year."
DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished third): "I think that the race, first and foremost, put on by Roger Penske and his group of people was just absolutely fantastic. This is the kind of thing that IndyCar needs. Along with Helio (Castroneves) getting on "Dancing with the Stars" or that ballerina thing that he's doing anyway, I think it's good. I think the race was good for the fans. It was very entertaining. For Target Chip Ganassi racing it was good in one aspect, from our standpoint, finishing in the top three. It was a little unfortunate for Scott (Dixon), but he's still in a great position to be able to win the championship and that's what we need."
DARREN MANNING (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Honda/ Firestone, finished fourth) : "I think we deserve this on some of these road courses. I think this was a little something back from St. Petersburg."
KOSUKE MATSUURA (No. 55 Panasonic Panther Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished fifth): "I knew the race was going to be a survival game and the best thing I could do is stay on the track and out of trouble. It turned out to be a survival game at the end. Toward the end of the race, the car wasn't good. But I used (my) brains and stayed on the track."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Canadian Club Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished sixth): "The Canadian Club car was fantastic today. We just got beat out of the pits by Scott (Dixon). And then Scott, I guess he blocked me one lap and then the next lap he spun in front of me and blocked the track. So it was just one of those things. I'm more upset with the officials right now for not throwing a full-course yellow and attempting to get me out of there, but it was just a wild, crazy day. The way everybody's driving right now, anything can happen."
BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished seventh): "Obviously, it was a crash-fest, and I just hate to get involved in the points championship because of where I'm at. Those two (Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti) were battling it out and to take them out with a lap to go or get involved in an accident because I ran out of fuel is just disappointing for everybody involved. Track position was key for us today. I think we finally got a car that was fast, and we were able to run the times of the leaders. It was just hard to get by and that second stint we kept moving up and passing people. Things were starting to come together. It's just disappointing to be squeezed that tight on fuel. We thought it was a timed race, and we were in a position to be fine and then once they kept running it out, we ran out of fuel. I had no place to go really. It's very difficult to get out of the way. I went down and apologized to Dario, Mike Hull and Mr. Ganassi. I just feel bad. They were cool and they understand. It wasn't like I was trying to crash. It's just disappointing to be involved in the championship that way. I didn't mean for any of that to happen. I just wanted a solid strong finish for Dreyer & Reinbold and our new sponsor Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas. It was extremely exciting. It's where we want to be at. Dennis Reinbold and Robbie Buhl have stepped up and tried to make their team better. We are in a good position. We just need a little bit more help and a little more luck here and I think we'll be OK. Our finish was good from starting basically last. To move up and run up front, we were in an excellent position. I'm just disappointed I didn't want to crash those two guys out. I knew they were behind me, and I was trying to just keep pace. I was running with the leader; to have that happen just sucks."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished eighth): "I wasn't trying to pass Buddy (Rice). I was in a good position and would not have risked it. He ran out of fuel. I sideswiped Buddy but tried to keep going. I was just trying to stay ahead of (Dario) Franchitti for valuable points. I would never have done anything intentional to jeopardize our race. Heading to Chicago the points situation is a lot tighter than I wish it was. Today was a good battle for the Target team and Chicago should be a better one especially for the fans."
A.J. FOYT IV (No. 22 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished ninth): "It was a wild race, but we hung in there, my guys gave me a good car and we had a good strategy going, but we just came up a little short on fuel. We were looking at a top-six finish and right as that yellow came out we ran out of fuel and that was the end of it. I hate it for the guys, but I'm glad we are able to bring the car home in one piece. We put together a good run out there in a good car and I think that's promising for the team. We just came up a little short."
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Hitachi Power Tools/Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished 10th): "It's just unfortunate we couldn't salvage more than that. If we could have just kept the car straight, we would have definitely finished a bit higher. We spun a couple times out there today and the course was tough, but thankfully we were able to finish and the car is in good shape. I just lost it a couple of times out there and that hurt us at the finish."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished 12th): "The Team Penske car was good at the start of the race, and we were able to maintain our starting position. Then, on the first restart, I saw the #5 car (Sarah Fisher) letting other cars go, so I thought I would get the same treatment. However, she turned right into me when I tried to pass her in turn one, and I ended up in the tire barrier. The contact broke my front suspension and hurt my hand a bit, but fortunately my crew was awesome in putting the car back together so we could get back out on the track in an attempt to pick up some points. Hopefully we'll be able to rebound next week in Chicago so that we can end the season on a high note. I've had a lot of success there in the past, so hopefully the same will be true this year.''
TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 2 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "There was no problem. He hit me from behind. I don't know what he was thinking. Maybe he should start thinking about driving, and stop thinking about dancing because that was a stupid move. He just pitted for fuel so he knew I had to pit soon and he would have taken position. But to ride me into a fourth gear corner and hit me from the back, it's not good for any of us."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I don't understand why Tomas (Scheckter) let Tony (Kanaan) by and not me. I was putting pressure on him and all of a sudden he shut the door. Needless to say, I was a little confused. It's just unfortunate what happened out there. Obviously, I'm not happy with today's result, but I guess it's just one of those racing deals. Now we just have to look ahead to Chicago and hopefully we'll be able to end the season on a high note."
VITOR MEIRA (No. 4 Delphi Panther Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "As soon as I saw it, I couldn't go anywhere. Buddy (Rice) was behind me and Darren (Manning) had a bad start. While I was right underneath him, he touched Danica and (I) almost crashed into him. There was nowhere to go. I tried to go to the side but Sarah was coming backwards and I thought there was nowhere to go. It's a shame for the Delphi crew."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol): "We can't catch a break right now. We've been running so fast; we had a great run going. We were just saving fuel. For some reason I had a clutch go. We replaced the clutch this morning but we replaced it. We only used the clutch once on 'Gentleman start your engines.' We don't know what it is. We'll have to figure it out. We need a break. The Ethanol Team deserves a break. We're putting in the performances every point up until Sunday and on the Sunday we can't show what we have. It's disappointing."
||Tony Kanaan (11)
||Danica Patrick (7)
||Dan Wheldon (10)
||Darren Manning (14)
||Kosuke Matsuura (55)
||Dario Franchitti (27)
||Buddy Rice (15)
||Scott Dixon (9)
||AJ Foyt IV (22)
||Ed Carpenter (20)
||Scott Sharp (8)
||Sam Hornish Jr (6)
||Tomas Scheckter (2)
||Helio Castroneves (3)
||Vitor Meira (4)
||Sarah Fisher (5)
||Marco Andretti (26)
||Ryan Hunter-Reay (17)
Winner's average speed: 83.841 mph
Time of race: 2:11:50.5097
Margin of victory: Under caution
Cautions: 6 caution flags for 19 laps
Lead changes: 5 among 5 drivers
Lap leaders: Castroneves 1-26, Franchitti 27-49, Rice 50-56, Patrick 57-65, Franchitti 66-69, Kanaan 70-89.
Point standings: Franchitti 587, Dixon 584, Kanaan 548, Wheldon 449, Hornish 427, Castroneves 414, Patrick 405, Sharp 382, Scheckter 345, Andretti 338, Rice 338.