Mon, Jul 19, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Tony Kanaan gets third IRL victory of year in Tennessee


Tony Kanaan raced to his third IRL victory of the season Saturday night, taking advantage of teammate Dan Wheldon's tire problems.

Kanaan saw his Wheldon's right rear tire going flat after a tangle with Buddy Rice's car and grabbed the lead to himself before holding off Sam Hornish Jr. in a 12-lap shootout Saturday night in the Firestone Indy 200.

Kanaan led only those final 19 laps, but that was enough to pad his lead in the IndyCar Series points race over Andretti Green Racing teammate Wheldon. Kanaan also won at Phoenix and Texas.

Hornish Jr., driving for the Marlboro Team Penske team that won here last year with Gil de Ferran, tried to chase Kanaan down. Hornish appeared to be ready to pass Kanaan on the backstretch of the final lap but couldn't finish and lost his momentum.

Hornish finished second ahead of teammate Helio Castroneves, who was third for a second straight year here. Darren Manning was fourth with Toyota engines followed by Townsend Bell with a Chevrolet engine.

Rice, the pole-sitter who was trying for his second straight victory, led 52 laps before losing the lead to Wheldon, who gambled on a pit stop on lap 165 by not taking any tires and beat everyone out of the pits.

Rice tried to duck under Wheldon on the restart only to find himself bumping tires in Turn 2, damaging the nose of his car. He finished sixth.

Kanaan checked out both sides of Wheldon's car during the caution and notified his team that Wheldon's rear tire was going down. He took advantage of the problem by passing Wheldon in Turn 1 on lap 181. Wheldon's tire came off the wheel three laps later, and he wound up 13th.

Vitor Meira, Rice's Rahal Letterman Racing teammate who had finished second in the last two races, appeared to have the car to beat. He passed Rice going into Turn 3 of the opening lap and led the first 113 laps heading into the pits during the fourth caution caused when Tomas Scheckter slammed into the wall of Turn 2.

But Meira and his crew stumbled.

Given the signal to head out, he started when someone noticed the vent hose still attached to the car. He stopped, and they pushed his car back a couple feet. With the hose removed, Meira then stalled the Honda engine, a mishap that moved him to 15th.

He zoomed back onto the track and quickly passed nine drivers to get up to seventh within 10 laps.

Back up to fifth, Meira had another pit problem on the final caution when an air gun malfunctioned. He finished 12th.

With no chance to race in Scotland, Dario Franchitti viewed this stop close to his Tennessee home as his hometown race. A broken first gear knocked him out after 65 laps.

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