Kanaan Steps Into the Void Left by Wheldon
Tony Kanaan took advantage of teammate Dan Wheldon’s misfortune to move into the lead, then ran away from the field Sunday to win the Argent Mortgage Indy Grand Prix in Sonoma, Calif.
Kanaan beat Buddy Rice by 1.182 seconds -- about eight car-lengths -- for his second IRL IndyCar win of the season, completing a sweep for Andretti Green Racing on Sunday. Owner Michael Andretti’s son, Marco, won the Menards Infiniti Pro Series race earlier.
It was Wheldon’s broken fuel pump that allowed Kanaan to take the lead on the 53rd of 80 laps at Infineon Raceway.
“I have had bad days, and he capitalized a lot on them,” Kanaan said of Wheldon, the IndyCar points leader.
Kanaan averaged 91.040 mph around Infineon’s 12-turn, 2.26-mile track in the first IRL race held on a road course.
Red Bull Cheever Racing teammates Alex Barron and Patrick Carpentier finished third and fourth, 1.854 seconds and 2.664 seconds, respectively, behind Kanaan.
A 19th-lap crash took out the two fastest qualifiers as Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe were attempting to pass rookie Danica Patrick.
Patrick’s was the last of six cars that remained on course as the rest of the pack pitted on Lap 17, after Ed Carpenter spun and stalled. Briscoe’s car slammed into the side of Patrick’s and she gathered up Castroneves.
“I don’t know what the heck he was thinking. He just decided to pass everybody in one corner, and he ended up taking everybody out,” Castroneves said.
Briscoe, who won the first pole of his career Saturday, called it “a pretty big mess.”
“I just got on the brakes a bit late, it looks like,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sam Hornish Jr. went out in the first lap because of a broken gearbox. He returned to the race 25 laps down.
That dropped Hornish from second to third in the points standings, and Kanaan moved to second behind Wheldon.
Oriol Servia was fighting his emotions as the leaders began the final lap of the Montreal Molson Indy race. He was feeling cheated and was angry.
“I was really, really on fire in the car,” Servia said. “If the officials had not made the right decision, I can tell you the last lap in the hairpin [turn] was going to be ugly.”
There was no last-lap confrontation, though, as Servia was handed his first Champ Car victory when series officials ordered rookie Timo Glock to let him pass.
Glock, whose best previous finish in nine races this season was sixth, was on an out-of-sequence pit strategy that put him in the lead late in the 79-lap race. He made his last stop on Lap 56 and fell to 11th but found himself out front when all the drivers ahead of him pitted under caution on Lap 60.
As he tried desperately to hold on to the top spot, Glock twice blocked Servia’s Newman/Haas Racing Lola, nearly forcing Servia into a concrete wall as the two came close to bumping wheels.
He was warned by Champ Car officials following the first of those blocks on the final turn of Lap 69 but did it again in the same spot on Lap 76, when Servia got alongside and appeared set to take the lead.
At that point, the former Formula One driver from Germany was told to give the top spot to Servia and he finally did, pulling over just long enough to let him pass midway through the final lap on the 2.709-mile, 15-turn road circuit.
Once in the lead, Servia, filling in for the injured Bruno Junqueira, beat Glock to the finish line by exactly one second -- about 10 car-lengths -- to earn his first win in 95 Champ Car races.
Justin Wilson finished third, followed by reigning series champion and current points leader Sebastien Bourdais.
Five-time AMA Superbike champion Mat Mladin finished his double-victory weekend at Virginia International Raceway by leading by as much as 15 seconds in winning Sunday’s featured race at the AMA Superbike Championship. He had rebounded from 15th to win Saturday’s featured race.