Tony Kanaan claimed his first victory of the 2008 IndyCar Series season, winning the SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond International Raceway by 4.7691 seconds over Helio Castroneves.
Kanaan, starting from the pole, led 166 of the 300 laps to claim his 13th career victory and his first since Belle Isle in September 2007.
Team Penske’s Castroneves improved 16 positions to record his fourth second-place finish of the season. Scott Dixon finished third and remains atop the IndyCar Series championship point standings, with a 43-point advantage over Castroneves.
Dixon’s Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Dan Wheldon finished fourth, followed by KV Racing Technology’s Oriol Servia in his first start at the .75-mile oval.
The race included nine cautions, with 102 laps run under yellow, the second-most in IndyCar Series history, however, the final 72 laps were run under green.
INDYCAR SERIES POST-RACE NOTES:
This is Tony Kanaan’s 13th career victory and his first since Belle Isle last season.
This is Andretti Green Racing’s 34th victory in the IndyCar Series and its second this season. Danica Patrick won earlier this year at Twin Ring Motegi.
There were 102 laps under caution, second-most in IndyCar Series history. The 2002 race at Nazareth had 116 laps run under caution. There were 99 caution laps at Dover in 1998.
Helio Castroneves improved 16 positions to finish second, his fourth second-place finish of the season (St. Petersburg, Motegi and Texas).
Scott Dixon finished third, his seventh consecutive top-five finish and eighth top-five finish of the season.
Oriol Servia finished fifth, his best finish in the IndyCar Series. His previous best was sixth at Milwaukee.
Justin Wilson finished seventh, tying his best finish in the IndyCar Series. He also finished seventh at Milwaukee.
Townsend Bell finished a season-best eighth. His previous best was 10th at Motegi and Indianapolis. Jaime Camara led his first laps in the IndyCar Series. They also were the first laps led for a Conquest Racing driver on an oval since Laurent Redon led 39 laps at Richmond in 2002.
INDYCAR SERIES POST-RACE QUOTES:
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven, finished first): “It was tough race at first but once we got going, I knew we could do it with the car. The problem was we had a lot of yellows and people making mistakes. Traffic was really good; everybody did a good job trying to keep away from the leaders. It was a great race apart from all of the yellows.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske, second): “We tried everything. Team Penske did a great job in our pit stops. I was driving my wheels off of it.. I was trying everything I could to make up spots. The only chance I got was mostly on restarts and the start of the race. Andretti Green seemed to be better than us. They seemed to be more consistent, especially when the tires started dropping a little bit. It’s a shame. I wanted to win so bad, especially for the folks from Philip Morris. We had a good showing.”
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, third): “It was a tough night. We had a very good car. Once again it was very tough to pass here. Even when the tires got old, it was very hard to get close to people. If we were out front, I think we had a car to win. TK (Tony Kanaan) definitely looked pretty strong tonight, but I think the Target car still had a good run. I think I just messed up my first pit stop and maybe the left rear or one of the rear guys had trouble getting it back on. We dropped back to about eighth or ninth, so it was good to come away with third.”
DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, fourth): “I was trying to be aggressive while trying to finish the race. It was difficult behind the other cars, and we knew there would be more than a few wrecks tonight. The car shut off on the last lap for some reason, and that's not what we need when we're trying to close the points gap.”
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 5 KV Racing Technology, fifth): “When we unloaded the car right away I said we have a top-five car, and fortunately was able to prove it. I’m very pleased with how the team performed. Everybody expected us to do well on the road and street courses, but I really wanted to prove the team is capable of doing a good job on ovals.”
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Motorola, sixth): “It was a carnage fest out there tonight with all the wrecks and cautions. I am happy with my finish. Obviously I wish we could have finished in the top five. The Motorola crew did a great job. I am also very happy that Tony (Kannan) got his win. He totally deserved it.”
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 02 McDonald’s Racing Team, seventh): “What a crazy race. There was some really good driving and some really bad driving out there. I was just trying not to get caught out and stay out of trouble and bring the car home. The McDonald’s car wasn’t the quickest car out there today, but we managed to salvage some good points, and hopefully that will help us out in the championship. The team did a good job on the pit stops. I’m not sure how many we did, maybe 10. I had a bit of a moment with E.J. (Viso) at the end. His team told him yellow at the end of Turn 3 for the checkered flag and it caused a big moment. He lifted off the throttle, and I had to also but got sucked up behind him and I was all sideways and crossed up to avoid him. I thought I had crashed and was going to cross the finish line with no wheels on the car. I thought ‘I’ve come through all this only to crash at the very end.&rsquo ; Fortunately we were able to keep all four corners on it and bring it home.”
TOWNSEND BELL (No. 23 Dreyer & Reinbold William Rast, eighth): “We just made smart decisions tonight. Great spotting by Dane (Carter). We just had the mindset of wanting to make it to the end. This race was sketchy, which is what I expected. It was a total dogfight that first half of the race. Our car was great. We’re going to continue to work on things. It’s just fun to get another top-10. I’m pleased. It’s our best finish of the year. We can’t complain about that. The guys did a great job in the pits, and I can’t wait to get back into the car again.”
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Blockbuster, ninth): “I am incredibly disapointed. The Blockbuster car was the best car on the track today.”
The 2008 IndyCar Series season continues with the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen July 6 at Watkins Glen International. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) by ABC. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPNDeportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio and indycar.com. The 2008 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Corning Duels same-day doubleheader on July 5 at Watkins Glen International.
The races will be telecast at 2 p.m. (EDT) July 10 on ESPN2 and live on indycar.com.