IRL: Bombardier 500 Race Report
Date: June 09, 2003 22:40
Honda Press Release
Kanaan Runs Second in Texas, Increases Points Lead
Honda-powered Tony Kanaan extended his championship points lead in the IRL IndyCar Series with a second-place run Saturday night at the Bombardier 500. The Andretti Green Racing driver trailed race winner Al Unser Jr. across the line by barely a car length in an exciting one-lap "shootout" finish following a late-race caution period.
Three Honda-powered drivers finished in the top five here at Texas Motor Speedway, all within one-half second of the victor. Team Rahal's Kenny Brack ran fourth to keep himself firmly in the fight for the IRL championship. Bryan Herta, making his first IRL start as a substitute for the injured Dario Franchitti, rounded out the top five. The Californian survived a bump with Helio Castroneves as both avoided a multi-car late race collision on lap 191 that involved more than a half-dozen cars and eliminated Scott Sharp and Felipe Giaffone. The ensuing caution period also set up the final lap green/white flag battle between Unser and Kanaan.
With tonight's result, Kanaan increases his IRL lead to 26 points over new second place driver Unser, while Brack moves up one position to fourth in the standings, 42 points behind Kanaan.
Meanwhile, Super Aguri Fernandez Racing's Roger Yasukawa increased his lead in the chase for series Rookie of the Year honors with a ninth-place run, his best result of the season and second consecutive top-ten result. Local favorite Greg Ray appeared headed for a tenth-place finish, but was one of several cars to sustain damage in the Lap 191 incident. The resulting pit stop for repairs dropped the Texan to 11th at the flag. Dan Wheldon was the only Honda-powered driver to retire from the race, as debris jammed his throttle linkage and he dropped out of the contest after 152 laps.
Tonight's race was the first of a pair of back-to-back races in the western U.S. Next week, the IRL IndyCar Series travels to Pikes Peak International Raceway outside of Colorado Springs, Colorado, for the Honda Indy 225.
1. Toyota 44 points
2. Honda 36
3. Chevrolet 23
Tony Kanaan (#11 7-Eleven/Andretti Green Racing Honda) started 4th, finished 2nd: "I had a good restart after the last yellow and Al [Unser] raced me hard, but very clean. He gave me the outside line and I tried to pass, but it was not to be. The inside line was a little quicker and my hat's off to him, he deserved to win. There was some very intense racing out there tonight, I hope the people liked it. My goal is the championship, and we improved our position with a second place finish. I want to extend my [points] lead at every race, and that's what we are doing right now.
Kenny Brack (#15 Pioneer/Team Rahal Honda) started 6th, finished 4th: "It was an up-and-down day, I guess. We picked up some good [championship] points tonight, so that was good. But I lost three or four positions on the next to last restart, and that was unfortunate. Then again, it also meant that I wasn't involved in that last crash, either. And my team did a fantastic job in the pits. Every stop was great and once I came into the pits in seventh place, and then went back out in fourth, so my hat's really off to them tonight."
Bryan Herta (#27 Archipelago/Motorola/Andretti Green Racing Honda) started 9th, finished 5th: "Well, I'm smiling, but it's only the fifth-best smile I could have on my face. I had a little too much understeer all race long tonight, and I put that down to me not knowing these cars very well yet, and how much of a change to make during the race to improve it. We'll do better next time. I had a really close call with Helio [Castroneves] in that last crash. He checked up to avoid it and I got into the back of him pretty solidly. I couldn't help it, and it was a pretty close call."
Roger Yasukawa (#55 Panasonic/Autobacs/Super Aguri Fernandez Racing Honda) started 11th, finished 9th: "It's our best finish of the season, so I'm reasonably happy with the result. It was a lot of fun to run here in Texas for the first time, and I learned a lot. But one of the things I learned was that I didn't clean off my tires good enough before the next-to-last restart. So I got loose in the first turn, and that's when [Gil] de Ferran got around me for eighth place. But we had a tenth-place finish at Indy, and ninth tonight, so I guess we'll shoot for eighth next week in Colorado."