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Backmarkers Gum Up Finish

Nick Bromberg | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, May 2 2010

The cars of Helio Castroneves, top, and Danica Patrick run wheel to wheel at Kansas Speedway. (Photo courtesy of the Indy Racing League)

By Nick Bromberg | Senior Correspondent
RacinToday.com

Kansas City, Kan. – Dario Franchitti, who finished second in Saturday’s Road Runner Turbo 300 IndyCar Series Race, admitted that he probably wouldn’t have been able to pass Scott Dixon had he gotten close to Dixon.

But because of the heavy lapped traffic between Dixon and the rest of the field on the final restart at Kansas Speedway, he never had the chance to even sniff the ethanol fumes from Dixon’s exhaust.

Seven lap-down cars lined up between Dixon and then second place Helio Castroneves on the final restart on lap 194, and those cars made it impossible for Castroneves, Franchitti or eventual third place finisher Tony Kanaan to get close.

“I think it’s up to the series to keep them in position and police hem. If they continue to drive like that, then you’re going to have to get them out of the way,” Franchitti said.

“You know, in situations when I’m a lap down I try and give the right of way to the lead-lap cars, especially with three laps to go. Are they going to get the lap back, finish in the top five? I don’t quite understand the thinking. It’s almost a respect thing. It’s not just about the more experienced guys in the series; it’s whether they’re rookies or whatever, the guys up front fighting for the race. You have to respect they had a better day, not interfere with that. We’ve seen two or three times this year where back markers have cause problems, big problems.”

Franchitti and Kanaan seemed to agree that it wasn’t the fact that the cars were in between themselves and Dixon that was the problem, but rather that the backmarkers raced the leaders so hard when there were so few laps remaining.

“I don’t think it should be up to the league. When it’s three laps to go you know exactly where you are. You know the second, third and fourth place guys are directly behind you and you’re not fighting with position in front of somebody because yo just don’t have anybody to fight for. Why are you going to fight us? That’s the problem,” Kanaan said.

“It’s a matter of common sense, honestly. They know exactly what they’re doing, which is even worse.”

Bid days spoiled: Japanese drivers Hideki Mutoh and Takuma Sato were headed for top 10 finishes until they collided with each other on a restart on lap 186.

Sato, a former Formula One driver in his first race ever on an oval, was sixth and looking to the outside of Mutoh, who was fifth. However Mutoh was forced to the outside because of a lapped car, and when he moved towards the wall, Sato was already there and the two made hard contact with the wall.

“Today was a very exciting day for me being my first oval race,” Sato said, “ I was running in sixth place with 14 laps to go when a yellow flag came out. There was a pack in front on the restart while I was racing Hideki side-by-side. It looked like he was pushing up the wall and I had nowhere to go. After having a conversation with Hideki, he was being pushed up into me by the lapped orange car. We both had nowhere to go.”

May momentum: John Andretti and Richard Petty will head to the Indy 500 later this month with a bit of momentum on their side.

Andretti, driving a Petty Blue No. 43 car co-owned by Petty and fielded by Andretti Autosport, finished ninth at Kansas.

“I can’t be disappointed with this,” John Andretti said. “I felt if we finished in the top 10, that would be better than I could expect and we finished ninth. We ran up there, we ran good and we ran good on the long runs. Like everybody, I think we wish (Scott) Dixon hadn’t caught it quite so good because then we could have finished a little better, but I’m pleased. We weren’t perfect, but it was good for me. I had a good time.”

Results Saturday of the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 IZOD IndyCar Series event on the 1.52-mile Kansas Speedway, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (2) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running

2. (3) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running

3. (15) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running

4. (8) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running

5. (22) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running

6. (1) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running

7. (12) Mario Moraes, Dallara-Honda, 199, Running

8. (5) Alex Tagliani, Dallara-Honda, 199, Running

9. (17) John Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 199, Running

10. (6) Vitor Meira, Dallara-Honda, 199, Running

11. (9) Danica Patrick, Dallara-Honda, 198, Running

12. (7) Will Power, Dallara-Honda, 198, Running

13. (26) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 198, Running

14. (10) Mike Conway, Dallara-Honda, 198, Running

15. (25) Dan Wheldon, Dallara-Honda, 198, Running

16. (13) Raphael Matos, Dallara-Honda, 198, Running

17. (14) Sarah Fisher, Dallara-Honda, 198, Running

18. (20) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 197, Running

19. (23) Alex Lloyd, Dallara-Honda, 197, Running

20. (19) Bertrand Baguette, Dallara-Honda, 197, Running

21. (18) Simona de Silvestro, Dallara-Honda, 197, Running

22. (27) Mario Romancini, Dallara-Honda, 196, Running

23. (4) Hideki Mutoh, Dallara-Honda, 186, Contact 24. (11) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 186, Contact

25. (21) Jay Howard, Dallara-Honda, 172, Contact

26. (24) Milka Duno, Dallara-Honda, 84, Contact

27. (16) EJ Viso, Dallara-Honda, 71, Contact

Race Statistics

Time of Race: 1:50:43.1410

Winner’s average speed: 164.741

Margin of victory: 3.0528 seconds

Cautions: 4 for 33 laps

Lead changes: 3 among 3 drivers

Lap Leaders: Briscoe 1-31, Dixon 32-48, Franchitti 49-50, Dixon 51-200

Point Standings: Power 190, Dixon 164, Castroneves 162, Hunter-Reay 159, Franchitti 152, Wilson 137, Briscoe 132, Kanaan 129, Meira 101, Matos 98.

– Nick Bromberg is a frequent contributor to RacinToday.com

Nick Bromberg | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, May 2 2010
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