Kanaan finds relief with Richmond win Howard returns for the Glen Mid-season by the numbers Public to vote for Firestone “Tire”-rific move of the race Drivers reap post-race awards
1. Kanaan finds relief with Richmond win: On the tail end of a frustrating first half of the IndyCar Series season, Tony Kanaan found relief on a steamy night at Richmond International Raceway.
Kanaan avoided the single- and multi-car mishaps that led to nine caution periods on the 0.75-mile D-shaped oval - the shortest on the circuit populated by a race-record 26 entries - to win the SunTrust Indy Challenge for the first time.
The Andretti Green Racing driver made up some ground on series points leader Scott Dixon (82 points arrears), who finished third. Of course, allotted some better luck on three other ovals and the tables might have been turned.
Kanaan was leading late in the season opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway when the spinning car of rookie E.J. Viso clipped the No. 11 7-Eleven car. Result: Eighth place. He was leading on Lap 105 at Indianapolis when the car white-walled Turn 3, spun and was broadsided by an approaching car. He was running third on Lap 212 at Iowa Speedway when the car spun at the exit of Turn 1 and made contact with the SAFER Barrier. Result: 29th. Result: 18th.
Thanks a considerable sum to throw away, especially when the three drivers in front of him - Dixon, Helio Castroneves and Dan Wheldon - have consistently been in the top five.
"I'm going to enjoy my win for sure," said Kanaan of his 13th victory in the IndyCar Series, which included five in 2007. "I knew that I had to keep fighting. There's nothing else I can do. If you're going to have the season you expect every year, then it's going to be pretty boring I would say.
"I knew it was going to turn around. I didn't know when. I thought it was last weekend and I made a mistake. When those kinds of things happen, I have a tendency to actually have more strength to turn the situation around. I think I work better when I put a lot of pressure on myself, and I came in determined to win this race and it worked out."
Kanaan led a field-high 166 laps - more than his total in the previous eight races (133). He inherited the point when teammate Marco Andretti had to make a green flag pit stop (after completing 135 laps on a 22-gallon load of ethanol) on Lap 206 and ran away from Castroneves down the caution-free stretch.
"I was just sweating with 10 laps to go -- what's going to happen now?" Kanaan said. "It's like, OK, something is going to blow up; it's going to rain. Actually, if it rains, I was going to win, but maybe I was going to spin in the rain.
"I knew that we had a good car, but that's how funny racing is. Sometimes it comes when you least expect it."
2. Howard returns for the Glen: Jay Howard will return to the cockpit of Roth Racing's No. 24 entry this weekend for the Camping World Grand Prix at the Glen after a five-race absence.
The 2006 Firestone Indy Lights champion last competed at Kansas in April and said he is looking forward to racing again.
“Happy to get back in the car is an understatement,” said Howard, who competed in the first four races of the season with the team. “It’s hard to describe feelings when I’m on the sidelines watching. More than anything, I’m looking at this point forward and not looking at what happened over the last five races. I’m just going to go out and do what I do best and try to get a good result for the team.”
Howard had a high finish of 13th (Kansas, Motegi) and completed the Rookie Orientation Program at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway when he was replaced behind the wheel by veteran John Andretti for the 92nd Indianapolis 500. Andretti continued in the car for the next four races (all ovals), recording a team-high 11th-place finish at Iowa Speedway on June 22.
With six of the nine remaining races on road/street courses, Howard’s experience will be welcome.
“We’re glad to welcome Jay back for the next race at Watkins Glen,” Roth Racing president Margaret Roth said. “Jay has a wealth of road racing experience and was well on his way to a top 10 in St. Pete before a late-race incident, so we look forward to a good weekend from him at The Glen.”
Howard will get re-acclimated with the car on the 3.4-mile Watkins Glen International circuit, where he competed once (2006 in Firestone Indy Lights).
“All my background before I came to the U.S. and even the first four years racing in the U.S. was on what I would call a permanent track,” he said. “I had never seen a street course or oval before 2006, so it’s going to be a bit more like being at home for me. On the oval the car has been improved with what (engineer) Larry (Curry) brought to the team. I’m hoping that translates to the road course and we find more speed on the road course and everyone will be happy.”
3. Mid-season by the numbers: A look at some statistics at the IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights midpoint of the 2008 season.
1: IndyCar Series driver to complete every lap of competition this season (1,886): Dan Wheldon.
3: First-time winners in the IndyCar Series: Danica Patrick, Graham Rahal and Ryan Briscoe.
5: Different winners in seven Firestone Indy Lights events.
6: Different winners in nine IndyCar Series events.
8: Races remaining on the posted IndyCar Series schedule, five of which will be on road/street courses.
9: Races remaining on the 2008 Firestone Indy Lights schedule, six of which will be held on road courses.
15: IndyCar Series drivers who have finished in the top five.
22: Scott Dixon's finishing position at St. Petersburg, his only finish outside of the top four.
27: Firestone Indy Lights cars that started at Indianapolis for the Firestone Freedom 100 – a series record.
28: IndyCar Series cars that started at Texas – largest IndyCar Series field outside of Indianapolis since 2002.
43: Point lead of Scott Dixon after nine races in 2008.
65: Point lead of Dario Franchitti after nine races in 2007.
4. Public to vote for Firestone “Tire”-rific move of the race: Fans will have the ultimate say in who receives a $10,000 race bonus from Firestone. After each IndyCar Series race, Firestone executives pick three “Tire”-rific Moves of the Race, on-track moves where the drivers had to rely on their Firestone Firehawk tires. Fans can vote for the winner at indycar.com.
John Andretti won the fans’ vote from the race at Iowa by one vote and was awarded $10,000 during pre-race ceremonies at Richmond.
From the SunTrust Indy Challenge, fans can choose from:
Jaime Camara for charging to the front and leading 44 laps. Marco Andretti for putting 135 laps on a single set of Firehawks. Helio Castroneves for advancing 16 positions to finish second. In past seasons, Firestone has awarded the bonus to the driver who led the lap that corresponded to the total number of races in IndyCar Series history.
5. Drivers reap post-race awards: Tony Kanaan reaped the benefits from winning the SunTrust Indy Challenege. Kanaan was presented an IndyCar Series timepiece from Ritmo Mundo, the official timepiece of the IndyCar Series. Ritmo Mundo presents a timepiece to the winner of each IndyCar Series event in 2008. Kanaan, who also collected the $10,000 PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award, won the $5,000 DirecTV Crystal Clear Moment of the Race, and he also collected $1,000 from Bosch.
Jaime Camara won the $2,000 Lincoln Welders Hard Charger Award for being the race leader who started furthest back, and Oriol Servia collected the $2,000 XTrac Award.
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 a same-day doubleheader, the Corning Duels, on July 5 at Watkins Glen International. It will air at 2 p.m. (EDT) July 10 on ESPN2 and live on indycar.com.