Bridgestone Indy Japan 300 Race Report

4/21/2007 9:53:00 PM

Bridgestone Indy Japan 300 Race Report
Circuit: Twin Ring Motegi (1.5-mile oval) Tochigi, Japan
2006 Winner: Helio Castroneves (Honda) 153.248 mph average
Weather: Mostly sunny, mild, 74 degrees F

Race Results:

Fn. St. Driver Team Chassis Laps Average Speed/Notes
1. 3. Tony Kanaan Andretti Green Racing Honda Dallara 200 162.295 mph average race speed
2. 2. Dan Wheldon Target Chip Ganassi Honda Dallara 200 -0.4828 seconds
3. 7. Dario Franchitti Andretti Green Racing Honda Dallara 200 -11.5538
4. 6. Scott Dixon Target Chip Ganassi Honda Dallara 200 -13.0623
5. 5. Dario Franchitti Team Penske Honda Dallara 199 Running
6. 12. Tomas Scheckter Rahal Letterman Racing Honda Dallara 199 Running
7. 1. Sam Hornish Jr. Team Penske Honda Dallara 199 Running
8. 17. Danica Patrick Rahal Letterman Racing Honda Dallara 199 Running
9. 8. Dan Wheldon Vision Racing Honda Dallara 199 Running
10. 11. Buddy Rice Dreyer & Reinbold Honda Dallara 199 Running
11. 4. Scott Sharp Andretti Green Racing Honda Dallara 198 Running
12. 18. Darren Manning A.J. Foyt Racing Honda Dallara 198 Running
13. 14. A.J. Foyt IV Vision Racing Honda Dallara 197 Running
14. 15. Jeff Simmons Dreyer & Reinbold Honda Dallara 197 Running
15. 16. Sarah Fisher Vision Racing Honda Dallara 192 Running
16. 10. Vitor Meira Andretti Green Racing Honda Dallara 154 Did not finish - contact
17. 13. Kosuke Matsuura Delphi Panther Racing Honda Dallara 50 Did not finish - handling
18. 9. Ed Carpenter Super Aguri Panther Honda Dallara 0 Did not finish - contact

Kanaan Fast & Efficient To Win Twin Ring Motegi

Tony Kanaan not only had one of the fastest IndyCars today at the Honda-owned Twin Ring Motegi circuit, it also was the most fuel-efficient and that combination proved impossible to beat as the Andretti Green Racing driver and 2004 series champion claimed his first victory of 2007 at the Bridgestone Indy Japan 300.

It was yet another successful race weekend for the new 3.5-liter Honda HI7R IndyCar Series engine, which races on 100 per cent fuel-grade ethanol in all IndyCar Series events in 2007. The 18 drivers and teams competing at Motegi completed 5,691 laps of practice, qualifying and racing this weekend - a total of 8,536.5 miles - without a single engine-related failure once again.

Starting third, Kanaan and series points leader Dan Wheldon broke away from the rest of the 18-car starting field several times, and along with Team Penske's Helio Castroneves were the quickest cars in the field. But while Wheldon led 126 circuits of the 200-lap race distance, Kanaan was more often content to sit in the slipstream of his former teammate, conserving fuel in the process. As a result, Kanaan was among the last cars to pit each time he stopped, while Wheldon was forced into a more conservative race strategy when he lost radio communications with his Target Chip Ganassi team early in the race.

Kanaan assumed the lead for the fourth and final time after the final round of "splash of fuel only" pit stops with less than 10 laps remaining, and held off a charging Wheldon by just four-tenths of a second to record his eighth career IndyCar win.

Dario Franchitti rounded out the top three finishers Saturday in his Andretti Green Racing Honda, with Scott Dixon fourth. Sam Hornish Jr. lost precious seconds when he stalled during his final stop, dropping him to fifth. Rahal Letterman Racing's Scott Sharp had his best result of the year, sixth.

The IndyCar Series is wasting no time in returning home, with teams packing immediately after the conclusion of Saturday's race in preparation for the long trip back to the USA, followed next Sunday's race at Kansas Speedway.

IndyCar Series Drivers' Championship (after 3 of 17 races)

1. Dan Wheldon 118 points (1 win) 7. Tomas Scheckter 74 points
2. Tony Kanaan 115 (1 win) 8. Scott Sharp 65
3. Scott Dixon 112 9. Buddy Rice 60
4. Helio Castroneves 101 (1 win) 10. Danica Patrick 59
5. Sam Hornish Jr. 91
Vitor Meira
59
Dario Franchitti
91 12. Marco Andretti 58

Tony Kanaan (#3 Team Penske Honda) Started 3rd, finished 1st, his 8th career IndyCar victory and first at Honda-owned Twin Ring Motegi: "Our car was very strong today throughout the race, but this was a day when you had to be patient, and patience paid off for us today. This was a very important win for the entire Andretti Green Racing team. Ganassi and Penske have been so strong on the one-and-a-half-mile tracks for the past year or so, while it was an area were we had to make some improvements. Our team worked very hard over the winter to improve our performance on the big tracks like Motegi, and that makes this win very sweet for us."

Robert Clarke (President, Honda Performance Development) on today's race: "Another perfect weekend for Honda, with 100 per cent reliability throughout the weekend. I think it was a very good race for the fans. The changing weather conditions over the course of the weekend made it challenging for the teams. There was a lot of passing and other action on the track, and the various fuel strategies at the end made it tactically interesting as well. The job doesn't get any easier for us, as we will be racing in Kansas next weekend and then on to Indianapolis for the 'Month of May', but I believe we are very well prepared once again."

Dan Wheldon (#10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) Started 2nd, finished 2nd, takes over series championship lead after three of 17 races: "I think when you consider the pace of our car, we were one of, if not the fastest, ones out there. Once again, Honda provided us with a great engine, as they do for everyone in the field. That makes it a bit tougher for us, as I remember when we had a horsepower advantage and that certainly made it easier! We lost radio communication with both the pits and my spotter very early in the race, so we had to be a bit conservative with our pit strategy as a result. The way pit strategy came into play late in the race, I think that was very costly for us."