Delphi Indy 300 Race Report
Date: September 08, 2003 11:59
Honda Press Release
Herta Third in Chicagoland Photo Finish
In the closest three-way finish in Indy Racing League history, Bryan Herta battled two-time defending series champion Sam Hornish Jr. and Scott Dixon all the way to the wire in Sunday's Delphi Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway. The first three cars were covered by just one-hundredth of a second in a photo finish, with Herta running third behind Hornish and Dixon.
Dan Wheldon had another strong run for Andretti Green Racing, leading an IndyCar race for the first time in his career and finishing fourth, a tenth of a second behind teammate Herta. Tony Kanaan narrowed the gap in the IndyCar championship points race to leader Helio Castroneves with a strong sixth-place effort after pitting during the pace lap to replace a deflating tire and starting at the rear of the 21-car field. He now trails Castroneves by 14 points with two races remaining.
Rookie points leader Roger Yasukawa also looked to be in position to score his first IndyCar Series race win after a late-race caution period ended on Lap 194, but fell back after brushing wheels with Herta as the pair contested the race lead. The Super Aguri Fernandez driver finished eighth for the second consecutive event, his sixth top 10 result of the year.
Kenny Brack crashed out of the contest just past the mid-point of the race, the result of an apparent suspension failure aboard his Team Rahal Honda, but escaped serious injury. Greg Ray and his Access Motorsports team withdrew from the event on Friday, when suspension failure sent his car hard into the Turn Three wall in practice. He also was uninjured in the accident.
After four races in the last five weeks, the Indy Racing League now takes one week off before continuing the stretch run of the 16-race series at California Speedway on September 21.
1. Toyota 128 points
2. Honda 95
3. Chevrolet 86
Bryan Herta (#27 Archipelago/Motorola Andretti Green Racing Honda) started 7th, finished 3rd: "It was a pretty adventurous day for us. We were a little unlucky at the start, but then fortunate at the end with that last yellow [flag]. We had a misfire in the early laps; I had to switch ignition maps and fell back to 16th or 17th place [16th] before we got going again. But then I saw Helio [Castroneves] slowing as I dropped down to the warmup lane for my last pit stop and that was a good break for us. After the final restart, I thought we had a pretty shot at the win, but I couldn't hold the bottom line to protect the inside, and I could see Sam [Hornish] working the high side as well. I thought maybe Scott [Dixon] would line up behind me to the finish, but he went down low as my car slipped up the track. It could've gotten real messy, but there was a lot of give-and-take among all three of us. I'm not sure I could have done anything different in the final laps. Every lap but the last one was pretty good for us!"
Dan Wheldon (#26 Jim Beam/Klein Tools Andretti Green Racing Honda) started 10th, finished 4th, led a total of 32 laps, his first IndyCar laps led : "We had a good race car all day long, and a very good car in traffic. That made it a lot of fun to get up there and mix it up with the guys. But obviously, we had to change our strategy a bit after the last caution. With both of my teammates Bryan [Herta] and especially Tony [Kanaan] up at the front with me, I had to stay out of trouble and do what I could for the team. But it was great to lead an IRL race and it was a strong result for the entire Andretti Green team today."
Tony Kanaan (#11 7-Eleven Andretti Green Racing Honda) started 14th, finished 6th: "My job is to pass other cars, and I did a bunch of that today! I just tried to be smart and take advantage of what other people were doing, and it paid off for us. We made up a lot of positions throughout the race. The finish may not have been quite as high as I would have liked, but it was a pretty good day and we made up a lot of ground on [championship leader] Helio [Castroneves] in the points, so I can't complain."
Roger Yasukawa (#55 Panasonic/Super Aguri Fernandez Racing Honda) started 18th, finished 8th: "Overall, it was a great race for us. For the first time this season, we were in a position to win in the final stages of the race. And I thought my first win was coming, but Bryan [Herta] and I bumped wheels after the last restart. We were running side-by-side, but he came up the track just a bit and his right rear bumped my left front. The contact must have knocked our car out of alignment or something because the car went real loose after that and I had no choice but to back off to make the finish. Still, we ended up with another top ten result, and I learned a lot today by running up at the front of the field."