Miami Indy 300 Race Report

3/7/2005 12:23:00 AM

Miami Indy 300 Race Report
Circuit: Homestead-Miami Speedway (1.5 mile oval), Homestead, Fla.
2004 Winner: Sam Hornish Jr. (Toyota) 151.094 mph average speed
Weather: Sunny, mild, 72 degrees F

Race Results:

Ps. St. Driver Team Engine Chassis Laps Average Speed/Notes
1. 11. Dan Wheldon Andretti Green Racing Honda Dallara 200 142.033 mph average
2. 8. Sam Hornish Jr. Team Penske Toyota Dallara 200 -3.693 seconds
3. 14. Tony Kanaan Andretti Green Racing Honda Dallara 200 -3.703 seconds
4. 2. Vitor Meira Rahal Letterman Racing Honda Panoz 200 -3.715 seconds
5. 7. Helio Castroneves Team Penske Toyota Dallara 200 -3.850 seconds
6. 12. Darren Manning Target Chip Ganassi Toyota Panoz 200 -11.446 seconds
7. 19. Patrick Carpentier Cheever Indy Racing Toyota Dallara 200 -11.627 seconds
8. 17. Alex Barron Cheever Indy Racing Toyota Dallara 199 Running
9. 18. A.J. Foyt IV Foyt Racing Toyota Dallara 196 Running
10. 21. Paul Dana Hemelgarn Racing Toyota Dallara 192 Running
11. 1. Tomas Scheckter Panther Racing Chevrolet Dallara 158 Not running - contact
12. 15. Kosuke Matsuura Super Aguri Fernandez Honda Panoz 158 Not running - contact
13. 6. Scott Sharp Delphi Fernandez Honda Panoz 158 Not running - contact
14. 13. Bryan Herta Andretti Green Racing Honda Dallara 158 Not running - contact
15. 9. Danica Patrick-R Rahal Letterman Racing Honda Panoz 158 Not running - contact
17. 10. Roger Yasukawa Dreyer & Reinbold Honda Dallara 158 Not running - contact
19. 4. Buddy Rice Rahal Letterman Racing Honda Panoz 92 Not running-mechanical
22. 5. Dario Franchitti Andretti Green Racing Honda Dallara 12 Not running-mechanical

Wheldon Wins Season Opener in Miami

Dan Wheldon got the 2005 Indy Racing League season off to the best possible start for himself, Honda and his Andretti Green Racing team by dominating the second half of the Miami Indy 300, leading 158 of the 200 laps on Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Pulling away on a late-race [Lap 175] restart, Wheldon eased out a 3.6-second margin of victory ahead of a three-abreast photo finish for second place involving teammate Tony Kanaan, fellow Honda driver Vitor Meira and Sam Hornish Jr.

Starting 10th, Wheldon moved up to the lead group by staying on track when most other competitors pitted during an early caution period on Lap 12. Once among the leaders, Wheldon quickly asserted his dominance, moving into the lead for the first time on Lap 20. After that, the 2004 championship runner-up would never run lower than sixth, and claimed the lead for good on Lap 151.
But behind Wheldon, it was a typical IRL IndyCar battle, with plenty of close racing highlighted by a four-way sprint to the finish for runner-up honors involving Kanaan, Meira, Hornish and Helio Castroneves. The four battled hard throughout the final 30 laps of the contest with first Hornish, then Kanaan appearing headed for second place. Coming out of Turn Four on the 200th and final lap, Hornish pulled to the outside to beat Kanaan to the line by just one-hundredth of a second, with Meira in the far outside 'lane' and fourth, another hundredth of a second back.

Seven cars were eliminated in a chain-reaction collision on a Lap 159 restart, including the front-running Honda-powered entries of Kosuke Matsuura, Scott Sharp, Bryan Herta, Danica Patrick and Roger Yasukawa. Former series champion Scott Dixon and early race leader Tomas Scheckter also were collected in the crash. No serious injuries were reported, although Patrick was transported to an area hospital as a precautionary measure with a suspected mild concussion.

Drivers' Championship (after 1 of 17 races)

1. Dan Wheldon 53 points (1 win) 11. Tomas Scheckter 19
2. Sam Hornish Jr. 40 12. Kosuke Matsuura 18
3. Tony Kanaan 35 13. Scott Sharp 17
4. Vitor Meira 32 14. Bryan Herta 16
5. Helio Castroneves 30 15. Danica Patrick 15
6. Darren Manning 28
7. Patrick Carpentier 26 17. Roger Yasukawa 13
8. Alex Barron 24 19. Buddy Rice 12
9. A.J. Foyt IV 22 22. Dario Franchitti 12
10. Paul Dana 20

Manufacturers' Championship: Rookie of the Year:
1. Honda 10 points (1 win) 1. Paul Dana 20 points
2. Toyota 7 2. Danica Patrick 15
3. Chevrolet 5 3. Ryan Briscoe 12
Tomas Enge 12

Dan Wheldon (#26 Jim Beam/Klein Tools Andretti Green Racing Racing Honda) Started 11th, finished 1st, fourth career IndyCar victory: "Obviously, it's a fantastic way to start the season. I think we should rename this race 'The Honda Indy 300', because Honda obviously was very strong today. Around this place, if you have a fast car that handles well - even in traffic - you can get to the front whenever you want to. The power I had from Honda was exceptional, and I had a very good car in terms of balance and setup. I honestly believe this going to be 'the' most competitive championship in the world {among drivers, teams, engine manufacturers}. I think we're going to give you guys [fans and media] a great show throughout the season."

Tony Kanaan (#11 7-Eleven Andretti Green Racing Honda) Started 14th, finished 3rd, defending series champion: "I think we did great today. Last year we had our worst result all year [eighth] here. If this is our worst result in 2005, I'll take it with a big smile on my face! Over the last five laps, I gave it my best shot to finish second to Dan [Wheldon]. My car was good down low, but both Sam [Hornish] and Helio [Castroneves] were strong running up high. Coming out of the last corner, I was ahead of Helio but I could see Sam coming up on my right and I guess he just beat me to the finish. It was a great finish."

Vitor Meira (#17 Menard's Rahal Letterman Racing Honda) Started 2nd, finished 4th: Well, the main thing is that the team gave their best, and I certainly tried my hardest as well. It's a good result to start the year, and if we keep working like this then my first win will come sooner, rather than later. I went very high to the outside on the last lap and thought I had a chance at them [Kanaan and Hornish], but then got sideways exiting the corner and had to catch the car. That was the difference for us today."

Roger Yasukawa (#24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Honda) Started 10th, finished 17th (not running - contact): "I'm not sure what happened - all I saw was flying parts going by. I had to go to the high side [to try and clear the accident in front of him], but there was no where to go. But man, we had a great race car. Running in the top five in my first race with this team is a fantastic feeling."

Buddy Rice (#15 Pioneer/Argent Mortgage Rahal Letterman Racing Honda) Started 4th, finished 19th (not running - mechanical): " Things were going well for us, the car was getting stronger as the race went on and I really thought we could gain on the leaders in the second half. Then I saw some smoke coming out and our day was over. It's a shame because we were waiting to try to make a big run to the front at the finish. Now we'll have to get back to the shop and get ready for Phoenix. That is a home race for me so I'd like to get there and show well."