Kanaan Wins Milwaukee As Team Penske Suffers Rear Wing Failures

West Allis, WI – Tony Kanaan and Team 7-Eleven scored a somewhat surprising victory in Sunday?s ABC Supply/AJ Foyt 225 when the races? most dominate driver, pole winner Helio Castroneves suffered a collapsed rear wing while leading with only a few laps to go. A good crowd of 31, 838 witnessed the dramatic event under constantly changing skies.

After grand marshal A.J Foyt?s amusing “Girls and boys start your engines.” The race began as three time Indy winner Johnny Rutherford brought the field down in the Honda pace car under ominous skies. As the green flag flew, Castroneves jumped from the pole to the lead over third starting Tony Kanaan. The biggest early move came from Tomas Scheckter, who blasted from 13th starting position to eighth place by lap 12. Meanwhile, Helio lapped Sarah Fisher on the 15th lap.

Dan Wheldon began challenging Kanaan for second on lap 20, as the first of a record six yellow flags flew for debris. As the leaders pitted, Buddy Rice stayed out to lead his first laps since the Watkins Glen race nearly a year ago. Buddy then proceeded to lead strongly until lap 61, when Castroneves reassumed the point.

Meanwhile, Danica Patrick was charging, taking 6th position on lap 63 after starting last, turning some of the race?s fastest laps in the process.

On lap 86, Patrick attempted to make a move under Wheldon for 5th place. The result was light contact, with Danica executing a half-spin before bringing her slightly damaged car to the pits for a quick repair. After the race, Patrick made sure Wheldon knew how she felt about being ?chopped?.

After the ensuing round of pit stops, Dan Wheldon was the leader until turn 3, when Helio Castroneves grabbed the lead in turn 3. Helio was still leading by a second at the halfway point, trailed by Wheldon, Sam Hornish Jr., Scott Dixon and new Indy Champ Dario Franchitti. A few laps later, Hornish Jr. appeared to be struggling, nearly sliding into the turn 2 wall. Sam made a great save, but lost several positions in the process.

The third yellow, once again for debris on lap 136, brought about another round of pit stops and, as before, the Target-Ganassi team got Wheldon out first, trailed by Castroneves. At this point, 13 cars remained on the lead lap.

The green light shone again on lap 146 and, this time, Wheldon was able to hold Helio at bay, moving to a two second advantage within a few laps. At this point, it appeared that the leaders would need one more fuel stop before the finish.

Then, on lap 157, early leader Buddy Rice slipped out of the groove in the center of turn one, striking the safer barrier with the right side. As Buddy climbed out unhurt, another round of pit stops began. And, once again, the Target team helped Dan Wheldon keep the lead. Vitor Meira emerged in third place behind Wheldon and Castroneves, but ahead of Hornish Jr., Kanaan, Dario Franchitti and Dixon.

When the green flew, Castroneves immediately blew by Wheldon, as the former leader appeared to fade slightly. Hornish Jr. was now up to second behind his Team Penske teammate, with early leader Kanaan third.

As the race entered its final stages, Tony Kanaan finally found a way past Hornish Jr. on lap 195 for second place, with leader Castroneves hold a comfortable lead of nearly three seconds.

Suddenly, the race turned upside-down: as leader Helio Castroneves suffered a collapsed rear wing as he was coming off turn 4 to complete lap 201. The Team Penske Dallara immediately turned sideways and hit the inside wall nose first. In the blink of an eye, the races? most dominate driver was through! “I had the race won,” said Castroneves, “It’s a shame that something so odd happened there at the end. The car just started spinning when my rear wing broke. It’s unfortunate because the Team Penske car was fantastic all day. The car was getting better and better throughout the race. I just have to laugh it off. It’s amazing that I have such bad luck at this place.”

Tony Kanaan became the new leader, taking the green flag on lap 209. The yellow was quickly displayed again, however, as 10th place Marco Andretti slid through the marbles and brushed the wall at the exit of turn 2. All of the leaders stayed on the track, anticipating a 10 lap shoot-out.

As Tony Kanaan led the re-start, second running Sam Hornish Jr. suddenly slowed with his rear wing visibly flapping in the breeze! Dario Franchitti now found himself running second behind his teammate, with Dan Wheldon, Scott Dixon and Vitor Meira trailing.

Franchitti was happy for his Andretti-Green teammate, “We expected a slower pace for the race with more stop and start,” said Franchitti, driver of the #27 Canadian Club car. “It was hard to get positions on the restart with the heavy traffic, but when we got caught back up my car was very good. It was very quick on its own and we worked very hard at each stop to make it better. By the end, the car was quite good. To finish second to Tony is great. He drove a fantastic race to come back from where he did and I am really proud of the team to get a 1-2 today.”

Commenting on Helio?s misfortune, race winner, Kanaan stated in victory lane, “Sometimes it’s not always the best car that wins the race. We could say that many times. I just hung there all day. It was a difficult race. I definitely had to race this race, apart from the last five laps. Before that, I had to be on the charge.?

However, there was just as much crowd interest on pit road as there was in victory lane. Danica Patrick confronted Dan Wheldon after the race in a one-side discussion. “I just came up to him, looked up at him, put my arm around him, started walking and said, ‘What happened. What was that for? Did you not see me? Why didn’t you back off?’ And he didn’t say anything,” Patrick explained.

“I said, ‘I was clearly inside you’ because I heard him saying in an interview that I wasn’t all the way up alongside of him. I’m not sure what is lost in translation there, but I was completely alongside of him. I’ve made many more passes happen with being less far up in someone.

“Then he said, ‘You can’t get caught up in the marbles’ and I said, ‘Well, that’s a pass Dan.’ I told him, ‘If you don’t think I’m going to remember this, I don’t know why you’re being like this, but if you don’t think I’m going to remember, you’re crazy,”‘ she added.

Wheldon shrugged off Patrick?s comments, “She obviously thought she was past me,” he said. “She wasn’t. I guess maybe she’s just feeling the pressure of trying to get her first win. These things happen in racing.”

It seems that the Danica-Wheldon kafuffle will be the talk in Texas next week, more so than Kanaan being the latest winner.

Official Results of the ABC Supply / A.J. Foyt 225 presented by Time Warner Cable
1. (3) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda, 225, Running $121,400
2. (10) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 225, Running $99,050
3. (4) Dan Wheldon, Dallara-Honda, 225, Running $92,050
4. (2) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 225, Running $65,500
5. (9) Vitor Meira, Dallara-Honda, 225, Running $61,400
6. (11) Scott Sharp, Dallara-Honda, 225, Running $51,900
7. (8) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Honda, 225, Running $50,400
8. (17) Danica Patrick, Dallara-Honda, 225, Running $49,000
9. (5) Sam Hornish Jr., Dallara-Honda, 224, Running $49,000
10. (18) Jeff Simmons, Dallara-Honda, 224, Running $47,400
11. (15) Darren Manning, Dallara-Honda, 224, Running $45,800
12. (6) Kosuke Matsuura, Dallara-Honda, 223, Running $44,400
13. (12) A.J. Foyt IV, Dallara-Honda, 222, Running $43,000
14. (16) Sarah Fisher, Dallara-Honda, 221, Running $41,300
15. (14) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 209, Contact $39,900
16. (1) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, 201, Contact $48,500
17. (13) Tomas Scheckter, Dallara-Honda, 159, Mechanical $37,000
18. (7) Buddy Rice, Dallara-Honda, 156, Contact $39,000

Race Statistics:
Winner’s average speed: 127.220 mph
Time of race: 1:47:42.4393
Margin of victory: 2.5707 seconds
Cautions: 6 caution flags for 51 laps
Lead changes: 8 among 4 drivers
Lap leaders: Castroneves 1-24, Rice 25-61, Castroneves 62-91, Kanaan 92, Wheldon 93-98, Castroneves 99-138, Wheldon 139-169, Castroneves 170-201, Kanaan 202-225.

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