Kanaan Wins In Iowa

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, June 20 2010

Tony Kanaan is congratulated on his victory at Iowa Speedway Sunday by teammate Marco Andretti. (Photo courtesy of the IZOD IndyCar Series)


Tony Kanaan put a definitive end to three years of crash-filled frustration at Iowa Speedway Sunday with a victory in the Iowa Corn 250.

Kanaan passed fellow-Brazilian Helio Castroneves for the lead with 11 laps remaining for his first IZOD IndyCar Series victory of the season, and first since Richmond International Raceway in 2008 _ 32 starts ago.

Kanaan, of Andretti Autosport, had crashed out of the three previous races on the 0.894-mile bullring in Newton, Iowa, where he had finished no higher than 14th. Kanaan, who led 71 laps in this event in 2008 before finishing 18th, led three times for 62 laps Sunday after qualifying a disappointing 15th.

“Been a long time,” said Kanaan, driver of the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda, in Victory Lane. “I have to thank my team and the entire crew. They did a great job. I had a great car all day…a great battle with Helio. It brought back memories (of their boyhood karting battles).

“And I have thank my teammates. Marco (Andretti) and Ryan (Hunter-Reay) came over after qualifying. I was very disappointed. I made a mistake during qualifying and I was pretty down. They talked to me for 45 minutes and cheered me up. Marco gave me a little bit of his setup and Ryan actually helped me with the setup, putting it together for today. It was a great job as a team and it feels good.”

Kanaan, the 2004 series champion, posted the 14th victory of his IndyCar career and second of the season for Andretti Autosport. Hunter-Reay won on the Streets of Long Beach in April.

Castroneves finished second, 4.2030-seconds behind Kanaan, followed by E.J. Viso, Ryan Briscoe and pole-sitter Will Power. Viso’s third-place result was a career-best after starting 19th.

“Team Penske did a great job,” said Castroneves, driver of the No. 3 Dallara/Honda. “We finished fourth (Briscoe) and fifth (Power) as well, so all of our cars were in the front.

“Somehow the No. 3 car was always wearing out the left front (tire). When I needed it the most, unfortunately it wasn’t there. It was very hard to set up the car during the race. I should be happy but with 10 laps to go, it slipped right through my hands. Tony did seem to have a better car. He could run everywhere but more consistent. It’s a shame for us, but for the championship it‘s very good.”

Viso’s third-place bested the fourth he scored on the Streets of St. Petersburg (Fla.) in 2008. The result also matched KV Racing Technology’s highest series finish. Mario Moraes placed third for the team at Chicagoland Speedway in 2009.

“It’s been a very tough year for the team,” said Viso, a native of Venezuela and driver of the No. 8 PDVSA-Jet Aviation Dallara/Honda. “We all knew that we could get there (on the podium). We finished in the position we deserved to have. I hope this is the start of good things to come for the rest of the season.”

Rounding out the top 10 were Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing, Vitor Meira of A.J. Foyt Racing, Hunter-Reay, Graham Rahal of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and Danica Patrick of Andretti Autosport. Meira was the last driver on the lead lap.

Kanaan’s average winning speed was 131.205 mph in a race featuring 16 lead changes among seven drivers and only four cautions for 51 laps.

Power’s fifth-place finish allowed the Australian to regain the championship points lead from Dario Franchitti. Power has an 11-point advantage (274-263) over Dixon, who is Franchitti’s Target teammate.

The Iowa event winner in 2007 and 2009, Franchitti’s day was ended by a gearbox issue with 50 laps remaining in the 250-lapper en route to an 18th-place finish. Franchitti is third in points with 258, seven ahead of Castroneves, heading into the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International on July 4.

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, June 20 2010
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