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SunTrust Indy Challenge Honda Race Report
 Date: July 01, 2003 17:44
 Submitted by:  Tuan
 Source: Honda Press Release
 Credibility Rating: N/A


Kanaan Finishes Fifth in Rain-Shortened Richmond Run

IRL IndyCar Series points leader Tony Kanaan ran in the lead group throughout the SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond International Raceway, but the Honda driver came out on the short end of a late-race battle for fourth with two-time defending series champion Sam Hornish Jr. Rain then brought an early end to the race after 206 of a scheduled 250 laps with Kanaan still in fifth place. Chip Ganassi's Scott Dixon led from flag to flag to score his third victory of the season and solidify his hold on second place in the standings.

Team Rahal's Kenny Brack posted a strong run, moving up six positions in the opening laps to run eighth until the first round of pit stops on Lap 55. A problem with the left rear wheel, resulting in an extra stop on the next lap, dropped the Swede all the way back to 14th, near the end of the lead lap cars. But the former Indy 500 winner clawed his way back through the field, regaining positions both on the track and on his final pit stop to end the night in seventh.

Dan Wheldon, making his fifth start of the season for Andretti Green Racing, steadily improved throughout the race, moving into the sixth place as the race reached its scheduled mid-point. Although the IndyCar rookie was passed by Hornish and Brack in the closing laps, he held on for an eighth-place finish, his best result of the season. Super Aguri Fernandea Racing's Roger Yasukawa finished just outside of the top ten tonight, but continues to lead the series rookie standings.

Greg Ray ran as high as fourth in the early laps, then survived a quick spin on an aborted Lap 155 restart to finish 12th for Access Motorsports. Bryan Herta also had a close call late in the race, brushing the wall while trying to pass both Hornish and Brack on the same restart, recovering to finish 14th. Next week, the IRL IndyCar Series reaches the mid-point in the 16-race 2003 season with the Kansas Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway.

Tony Kanaan (#11 7-Eleven/Andretti Green Racing Honda) started 4th, finished 5th: "Tonight was tough. I can't blame anybody but myself. I'm driving it and I think I chose the wrong setup. I couldn't really tell my engineer what I needed and the car struggled a little bit during the race. But, to get out of here with a top five finish is not too bad. I figured this race would be pretty tough for me. It seems like I couldn't figure out this racetrack and what I needed - right from 'day one.' But, we did our best and a top five is good. We have some bright days ahead of us. I think we tested pretty good at the tracks we will go to in the next few weeks. Honda has been giving me great power and we'll go for the win next time."

Kenny Brack (#15 Pioneer/Team Rahal Honda) started 14th, finished 7th: "We got good luck and bad luck tonight. Right at the start, I could hear the team on the radio, but they couldn't hear me. That was probably good for the team, since I was yelling a lot tonight. That was some pretty wild racing. We got a pretty good start and moved up a bunch of spots. On my first pit stop, the rear tire didn't get all the way on the hub. We came out of the pits in fourth, but I had to pit again, and we went back to 12th or so. There were so many close calls for me, especially on every restart. At the end, we got a break because the right-front tire was going flat and we would have had to pit. But the rain came, and we were able to take the red and checkered flags. We picked up some points tonight and finished our seventh straight race."

Roger Yasukawa (#55 Panasonic/Autobacs/Super Aguri Fernandez Racing Honda) started 18th, finished 11th: "The race went fairly well. I think we had a pretty good strategy. Unfortunately, on my second restart, I didn't get the brake temps up enough, and I went to the higher line through Turn One. I lost a lot of positions there. That put me a lap down, eventually. I think, all in all, it was a good race. It was a little bit of up and down, but considering how the weekend went, I'm happy to have the finish. We'll go on to the next one at Kansas City."

Greg Ray (#13 Trim Spa/Access Motorsports Honda) started 5th, finished 12th: "We were very solid at the beginning of the race. The car felt great. I was biding my time, not being too aggressive. I had a little bit of a different fuel strategy, and we lost positions on our last pit stop. Everyone got a slow restart. I had a pretty good run on them on the inside. I just turned the wheel and spun it. I was really disappointed. I felt like we really had a top-five car here. I want to thank TrimSpa and EDS and all of our sponsors. We had a great race going, but I made a mistake on that last restart, and it cost us."

Bryan Herta (#27 Archipelago/Motorola/Andretti Green Racing Honda) started 8th, finished 14th: "I got a really good jump on the last restart and tried going outside [Sam] Hornish and [Kenny] Brack. We were three wide for a second and I thought 'This is pretty cool', but then I brushed the wall in Turn Four. I got a lot of pickup on the tires and the car didn't want to turn in. I had to back out of the throttle, so instead of picking up several positions, I fell back. I guess it only counts as a 'cool move' if you stick the landing!"

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