Kanaan Powers Way to Kentucky Speedway IndyCar Series Win
Andretti Green Racing driver Tony Kanaan took his second straight IndyCar Series win and first at Kentucky Speedway tonight in the "Meijer Indy 300 Presented by Coca-Cola and Edy's" by 1.7457 seconds over Ganassi Racing driver Scott Dixon.
Kanaan, who started the race from the pole position after qualifying 1.276-mph better than second-place starter and teammate Dario Franchitti, led a race-high 131 laps and took his sixth and final race lead following a caution restart on Lap 191 by sailing his No. 11 Team 7-Eleven car past the No. 20 of third-place finisher A.J. Foyt, IV at the start/finish line.
Kanaan's fourth win of the season combined with Dixon's fourth top-two finish in the past five races and series-leader Franchitti's eighth-place showing tonight significantly tightens the series championship race with three events remaining on the 2007 docket.
Dixon, who entered the race 24 points off the championship pace, will move into the series Aug. 26 race at Infineon Raceway eight points behind Franchitti and Kanaan will sit 52 markers away from the top spot.
"Obviously the car that is leading always has an advantage," said Kanaan, who nailed down his 11th career series win. "Dixon finished second, so I didn't make up much ground (in the championship). I have to win races and that's what I did today. Dario is doing a great job. He just had an unfortunate day today. If I can help him out, I will, if not, I'll try to win the championship."
Dixon and his No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing entry reeled in their 11th top-five and 12th top-10 finish through 14 starts this season.
"It was a tough day. He (Kanaan) had speed nobody could touch," Dixon said. "It was his day to lose. It's nice to close the gap a little, we can see light at the end of the tunnel. We have to go out and win races and if we can't win, we have to finish second and so on. We definitely don't need 'T.K.' winning anymore."
Foyt, IV, climbed from the 10th starting spot to capture his first career series top-five finish and second straight top-10 result after closing out last week's race eighth at Michigan International Speedway. His No. 20 Vision Racing entry was one of three team cars in the race top-10.
"I think it's really one of those deals where the team is coming together," Foyt, IV said. "I can't ask for anything more from my guys. The pit stops keep getting better. Everybody is just working hard and Team Manager Larry Curry is doing whatever he can to get us faster. This is my first year in the IndyCar Series with an engineer to work with, so I think it definitely helps." Marco Andretti placed fourth in his No. 26 NYSE Andretti Green Racing machine and Tomas Scheckter completed the race top five.
Franchitti's race ended with high drama for a second straight week. He walked away from spectacular crash in which his No. 27 Canadian Club machine flipped and flew in the air backwards last week at Michigan International Speedway and was involved in a near carbon copy of that incident when he took the checkered flag tonight and his car made contact with the rear end of the No. 55 car under the command of 11th-place finisher Kosuke Matsuura.
The No. 27 went airborne and nearly flipped upside down while flying forward. The rear end of the car made contact with the wall near the entrance of Turn 1. The contact helped bring the race machine to rest.
"That was my fault, I didn't realize it was the checkered flag lap," Franchitti said. "I'm disgusted with myself."
He posted his 13th top-10 finish through 14 starts this season.
"Meijer Indy 300 Presented by Coca-Cola and Edy's" Extras: -The "Meijer Indy 300 Presented by Coca-Cola and Edy's" crowd of 56,482 was the fourth-largest IndyCar Series crowd through eight events at the track. The track played host to its largest IndyCar Series crowd of 62,595 on Aug. 14, 2005.
-Tony Kanaan's margin of victory was the third-widest IndyCar Series win in track history. Buddy Lazier posted the widest IndyCar Series margin of victory at the track on Aug. 27, 2000.
-Tony Kanaan now owns one win, three top-five and four top-10 finishes at Kentucky Speedway through five career series starts. Kanaan led more than 100 Kentucky race laps for the second time in his career. He led 126 laps on Aug. 15, 2004.
Kentucky Speedway will continue its season Oct. 13 when the Major League of Monster Trucks visits the track for the first time. High-horsepower machines will race on a custom-built dirt track constructed on the speedway infield. Tickets for the debut event are on sale now and can be reserved online at www.kentuckyspeedway.com, by phone at 888-652-RACE (7223), at Kentucky Speedway ticket offices located at 400 Buttermilk Pike, Suite 200, in Ft. Mitchell, Ky., and the Sparta, Ky., Fan Center off of Interstate 71 Exit 57 and Ky. Hwy. 35 N.
Story by Mike Schmaltz
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