Belterra Casino Indy 300 Race Report
Date: August 18, 2003 20:43
Honda Press Release
Herta Runs Third in Record-Setting Kentucky Race
Charging up from his 13th starting position, Bryan Herta led the Honda contingent at the Belterra Casino Indy 300 to finish third in the fastest race in IndyCar Series history. Herta, Scott Dixon and in particular Sam Hornish Jr. were a league apart, finishing a lap or more ahead of the rest of the 20-car starting field. Defending two-time series champion Hornish won the 200-lap race, slowed only once for a caution, at a new record average speed of 197.897 mph.
Indy Racing League points leader Tony Kanaan also moved up early from his sixth-row starting spot, gaining five positions in the opening laps to reach sixth place. For the second half of the race the Andretti Green Racing driver was locked in battle with Helio Castroneves and Al Unser Jr. His sixth-place finish increased his points lead to eight (385 - 377) over Castroneves with four races remaining in the 2003 season.
Kenny Brack brought out the only yellow flag of the day when a fire broke out aboard his Miller Lite/ Pioneer Team Rahal Honda, and he pitted without incident. The single caution also was an IndyCar Series record.
Dan Wheldon, in the third Andretti Green Honda, made steady progress throughout the race to finish in eighth position, six places ahead of his start. Roger Yasukawa increased his lead in the series Rookie of the Year standings with a solid 12th place run for Super Aguri Fernandez Racing, while fifth-starting Greg Ray fought back from early-race handling problems to run 15th in his Access Motorsports entry.
The current string of three consecutive IRL IndyCar Series race weekends concludes next week with the August 24th Firestone Indy 225 at Nazareth Speedway in Pennsylvania.
1. Toyota 114 points
2. Honda 84
3. Chevrolet 66
Bryan Herta (#27 Archipelago/Motorola Andretti Green Racing Honda) started 13th, finished 3rd, third top five finish of the season: "This was a great result for us today, because it has been a tough few weeks for us, especially with the accident last week at Gateway. But today was probably one of the best races I have ever driven and I'm pretty happy about that. I really feel like I maximized every lap out there today. The entire team performed flawlessly. This is a tough place to keep the car under you, but the team did that for me today, and we made up ground at just about every stop as well. Coming from as far back on the starting grid as I did, I saw all kinds of traffic today - most of it good but some of it a little hairy! Starting in the middle of the season like we did, we just want to contend for wins, and we had a shot at it today."
Tony Kanaan (#11 7-Eleven Andretti Green Racing Honda) started 11th, finished 6th, continues to lead IRL points standings: "We're taking the races one at a time, trying to increase our points lead at each and we did that today. Obviously, I was not as fast as Sam [Hornish], but I had a very good, consistent car today. It was one of the toughest races of my life. To keep up with the leaders, I had to give it everything I had every lap, and Helio [Castroneves] and I had a great fight at the end of the day. Man, we raced really hard out there! I was trying as hard as I could to pass him, but I couldn't. We were very evenly matched. Now we go to Nazareth and I'm very confident about our chances there. We know from our win at Phoenix that we have a very good short oval car, and Nazareth is one of my favorite race tracks on the circuit. I'm looking forward to next weekend as we count our way down to the finish."
Roger Yasukawa (#55 Panasonic/Super Aguri Fernandez Racing Honda) started 16th, finished 12th: "We had a pretty good car today, but we ran out of fuel coming into the pits for our first stop and lost a lot of positions. We weren't fast enough to make up the ground we lost, so then it became a case of making it to the finish and collecting as many points as we could today."
Greg Ray (#13 Trim Spa Access Motorsports Honda) started 5th, finished 15th: "We were okay at the beginning of the race, but then picked up a big push [understeer] in traffic. I got stuck down low at one point and lost a lot of positions. We made changes at the first stop that improved the car, but by then we were already a lap down on the leaders. A couple of more changes at the next two stops and we had a great car by the end of the race; we were running consistent 216 mph laps. But by then it was too late in the game for us."