Emerson Indy 250 Race Report
Date: August 12, 2003 03:16
Honda Press Release
Kanaan Regains Points Lead With Second Place Run
Tony Kanaan's second-place run at the Emerson Indy 250 was enough for the Honda-powered driver to regain the IRL IndyCar Series points lead in action Sunday at Gateway International Raceway just outside of St. Louis, Missouri.
Starting from the inside of the second row, Kanaan used the outside line to pass both pole qualifier Helio Castroneves and Kenny Brack in the opening laps. The Andretti Green driver went on to lead 21 laps, but was unable to close on Castoneves in the final stages of the race as the two-time Indy 500 winner went on to win his first IndyCar race of the year.
Kanaan's teammate, Dan Wheldon, had his best run of the season as the Indy Car rookie finished fifth after starting on the sixth row. Greg Ray was another Honda-powered driver posting a strong run today, equaling his season best with an eighth-place run for Access Motorsports. Roger Yasukawa continues to lead the rookie points standings, but crashed out of the contest on Lap 89 while battling Ray for tenth place.
After starting on the front row, Team Rahal's Kenny Brack was another early departure, dropping out with mechanical problems after just 86 laps. A frightening accident in pit lane on Lap 40 resulted in injuries for a Kelley Racing crewman. Contact sent the Honda-powered entry of Bryan Herta into the back of Al Unser Jr. Anton Julian, left rear tire changer for Unser, was struck by the Unser's car and transported to St. Louis University Hospital, where he is being held for observation and is listed in fair condition.
The latest stretch of back-to-back IRL IndyCar Series races continues next week at Kentucky Speedway with the Belterra Casino Indy 300, followed by the Firestone Indy 225 August 24th at Nazareth Speedway in Pennsylvania.
1. Toyota 104 points
2. Honda 79
3. Chevrolet 59
Tony Kanaan (#11 7-Eleven/Andretti Green Racing Honda) started 3rd, finished 2nd, fifth top-three finish of the season: "I knew it was going to be tough to pass today, so I decided to give it everything I had right from the start of the race. Gil [de Ferran] saw me working the high line in Turns Three and Four on the pace laps, and he decided to help me clean up the track before the start. That helped us both out and worked out very well for me as I got around Kenny [Brack] and Helio [Castroneves] for the lead. Racing with these guys is hard, but fair, and that makes it fun for all of us. All the way to the end, I was pushing as hard as I could. I think my car was better [than the Penskes] in Turns One and Two, but I wasn't strong enough in Three and Four. Every time I put in a fast lap I'd look in my mirror and Gil would still be right there! It makes me happy to be leading the championship again, but seven points [his margin] is virtually nothing. I think the championship will go all the way down to the last race."
Greg Ray (#13 Trim Spa/Access Motorsports Honda) started 13th, finished 8th: "All in all, a pretty good day for us. We were a little bit 'pushy' at the start of the race, but made some adjustments at our first couple of pit stops and improved the car. We've been working on our pit stops since Michigan, and all of our guys are performing better, but we had an equipment problem with the fuel breather line and had to come back in again. But we stayed on the lead lap and on the last restart [Lap 165] I thought I had something for both Tora [Takagi] and maybe even Sam [Hornish]. I had a huge run on Tora but he came down on me pretty hard in Turn One and left me no room, so I had to get hard on the brakes and lost my momentum. We got close again near the finish but ran out of laps."
Roger Yasukawa (#55 Panasonic/Super Aguri Fernandez Racing Honda) started 9th, finished 18th (not running - contact): "I was trying to pass Greg Ray and think I got into some dirty air. The car just suddenly got very loose on me and I couldn't save it. Not the way we wanted today to go for us, I have to say I'm pretty disappointed."
Kenny Brack (#15 Pioneer/Team Rahal Honda) started 2nd, finished 19th (not running - mechanical): "I don't know what kind of problem we had, but the car just lost power. I came into the pits and the guys made a lot of changes to the electronics and some other things. But when I went back out the problem was still there and we had to call it a day. It's a shame, because I think we could have had a very good result today."