Firestone Indy 225 Race Report
Date: August 25, 2003 13:19
Honda Press Release
Herta Runs Third at Nazareth Speedway
For the second consecutive race weekend, Bryan Herta posted a third-place finish to lead the Honda field at the Firestone Indy 225. It was the Andretti Green Racing driver's fourth top-three finish in eight starts this year, including a victory at Kansas Speedway in July, since replacing the injured Dario Franchitti.
Starting fifth on the tight Nazareth Speedway tri-oval, Herta lost traction and fell back three places in the opening laps, but worked his way back into the top six shortly after the first round of pit stops. A brief battle with Gil de Ferran netted Herta fourth place, which became third after Alex Barron crashed out on Lap 199.
Tony Kanaan, the IndyCar Series points leader coming into today's contest, ran a strong third in the opening laps, moving up to second place when Scott Dixon encountered drive train problems on Lap 56. But Kanaan was later hit from behind by Tomas Scheckter as the leaders worked their way through lapped traffic, ending his race on Lap 106 and dropping the Brazilian to third in the point standings. Fighting a fever and flu all weekend, Access Motorsports driver Greg Ray also dropped out with transmission failure just past mid-race.
Kenny Brack posted his fourth top-five finish of the season, gaining a pair of positions on the opening lap of the race and additional places on each caution-ending restart to finish fifth for Team Rahal. Dan Wheldon and Roger Yasukawa continued their battle for series Rookie of the Year honors, as Wheldon passed the Super Aguri Fernandez Racing driver with less than 15 laps remaining to finish seventh, although Yasukawa continues to lead the rookie standings by 18 points.
After three consecutive race weekends, the Indy Racing League takes one week off before starting the final, three-race stretch run of the 16-race series with the Delphi Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 7.
1. Toyota 121 points
2. Honda 89
3. Chevrolet 76
Bryan Herta (#27 Archipelago/Motorola Andretti Green Racing Honda) started 5th, finished 3rd, second consecutive and fourth top five finish of the season: "It was a difficult race, as we knew it would be. I don't think we had the pace to match the top two guys or [Scott] Dixon today, but we were right there in terms of speed with the 'second tier' cars. This is a hard place to get the car exactly right, but today was the best the car's run all weekend and third place is another great result for the team."
Kenny Brack (#15 Miller Lite/Pioneer Team Rahal Honda) started 8th, finished 5th: "Fifth is not a bad finish for us. We had a great start and great restarts all day and that's where we made up ground. Unfortunately, we had a little problem on our first pit stop, when I hit one of Buddy Rice's tires and got into the pit box crooked. That cost us some positions. But we were able to make up places on each restart and that was the key. Once everyone got up to speed, the field sort of strung out and it became very difficult to pass."
Dan Wheldon (#26 Jim Beam/Klein Tools Andretti Green Racing Honda) started 14th, finished 7th, top rookie finisher: "The team did a great job today, the handling was the best it's been all weekend and both our pit stops went like clockwork. But it was very difficult to overtake here today. This was the most comfortable I've been in the car here, but I'd like to come back and test here. There's still some room for me to improve. We're always reaching for a top-ten finish, and today was a good, solid result and we'll put it on the truck and take it to Chicago with us."
Roger Yasukawa (#55 Panasonic/Super Aguri Fernandez Racing Honda) started 10th, finished 8th: "It was a tough race, but a good finish and one that we needed. The car would start out strong and run well for about 40 laps or so, but then I would start losing traction and the performance would fall off. The last 20 laps I could hardly get on the throttle exiting Turn Three, and that's how Dan [Wheldon] got by me at the end of the race."
Greg Ray (#13 Trim Spa Access Motorsports Honda) started 17th, finished 17th (not running - mechanical): "Just after our second pit stop, I started losing gears out of the gearbox. Pretty soon there just wasn't anything left in the transmission. I guess we could have gone behind the wall and replaced all the gears, but then we would have been down so many laps that it really wouldn't have helped us in the championship, so we called it a day."
Tony Kanaan (#11 7-Eleven Andretti Green Racing Honda) started 3rd, finished 18th (not running -contact): "Helio [Castroneves] was coming up on some lapped traffic as we approached Turn Two and had to slow down a little. I had to slow down as well and then I got hit from behind. I know it wasn't intentional, but it is disappointing for sure as we lost a lot of [championship] points today."