Firestone Indy 200
Home
Herta's Up Next
by Esteban Morales

July 16, 2005

     Most teams in racing have a difficult time finding a way into victory lane. Quite the opposite applies to defending Indy Racing League champions, Andretti Green Racing. AGR dominates on and off the track with a stellar group of talent stemming from owners Kim Green and Michael Andretti that has formulated into one of the most dominating teams in IndyCar history. To put this into perspective, even when it appears the team is on the verge of discarding a win through fluke errors, one of the four AGR drivers finds a way into victory lane. The latest example took place during the Firestone Indy 200 held at Nashville Superspeedway.

     After finally finding a steady pace in two seasons, Tomas Scheckter collected his third pole this season. Once the race was underway his fortunes lasted up until lap 5, however, when AGR's Dario Franchitti took the lead. Scheckter's teammate, Tomas Enge, ironically closed the gap between the two leaders after he spun and collided in turn 1. Franchitti led Scheckter, and the rest into pit lane while the Scottsman's teammate, Tony Kanaan, led the field back out. As if the AGR duo at the front of the field was not enough, team domination was assured after Bryan Herta ellected a separate strategy that saw him stay out while the others pitted.

     Herta was able to hold off his teammates for just two laps following the restart on lap 38. Tony Kanaan then led the way with Franchitti close behind. The teammates stuck nose-to-tail for over 70 laps until a very eventful caution brought a new dimention to the event. A routine yellow flag for debris was thrown on lap 117. As Kanaan led the field, a piece of strewn debris hit and shattered part of his Dallara's suspension. Kanaan went on to collect Darren Manning's Target Chip Ganassi Racing machine in the process. As the leaders hit pit road for a second time during the extended caution Bobby Rahal kept Danica Patrick out allowing her to inherit the lead of the race.

     Patrick lost her lead just as easily as she took it when Franchitti found a way around her during the lap 131 restart. While the leaders were busy at the front, the flagman had his hands full with the rest of the field and unfurled the yellow once again following contact between rookie Ryan Briscoe and veteran Patrick Carpentier. Franchitti held on to the lead while attrition continued to take its toll on the rest of the field. The yellow flew again on lap 160 as the pole-sitter's car began to smoke. While Franchitti continued to avoid trouble at the front his remaining teammates, Dan Wheldon and Bryan Herta, suffered a suspension and wheel bearing failure, respectively. The leaders pitted for the final time that night while Red Bull Cheever Racing teammates, Alex Barron and Patrick Carpentier, took command of the event.

     Barron led as the grid went green but an anxious Carpentier quickly charged to the front in hopes of winning his first IndyCar event. Just a handful of laps later Barron and Vitor Meira collided resulting in the last caution of the night. With no teammate to defend the lead with, Carpentier fought hard throughout the closing stages of the race. Carpentier was able to hold off Franchitti for just three laps after the restart until having to give way to the inevitable. The lone AGR driver collected his first win of the season just before heading to the historic Milwaukee Mile, a track that has already seen him climb the podium.

Results:

1. Dario Franchitti
2. Sam Hornish Jr.
3. Patrick Carpentier
4. Scott Sharp
5. Helio Castroneves
6. Scott Dixon
7. Danica Patrick
8. Ryan Briscoe
9. Buddy Lazier
10.Ed Carpenter
11.Roger Yasukawa
12.A.J. Foyt IV
13.Jimmy Kite
14.Kosuke Matsuura
15.Alex Barron
16.Vitor Meira
17.Tomas Scheckter
18.Buddy Rice
19.Tony Kanaan
20.Darren Manning
21.Dan Wheldon
22.Bryan Herta
23.Tomas Enge