AJ Foyt 225
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The Penske & AGR Show
by Esteban Morales

July 24, 2005

     The brazen select who would ever say no to A.J. Foyt are few and far between. None were found at the A.J. Foyt 225 held at the famed Milwaukee Mile as Foyt brought the field to life with the most famous words in motorsports. One could make an argument for rookie Ryan Briscoe, although he was sitting on the sidelines due to precaution rather than rebellion following a hard shunt before the race. While the Target Chip Ganassi Racing crew faced another dismal weekend, the Penske boys were all smiles as Sam Hornish Jr. took his third pole of the season with teammate Helio Castroneves starting beside him.

     With the drop of the green Hornish relentlessly began dominating the event while making his drive look easy at times. To spectators' dismay, Hornish refused to have a race unfold at the front as he thoroughly squashed the field while Castroneves momentarily allowed Dan Wheldon to take a peek at the leader's gearbox. Hornish lapped over half the field and would have continued doing so were it not for a lap 58 caution for debris. The field pitted and was led back out to the restart on lap 71 where Hornish resumed domination.

     While extending his lead, Roger Penske's driver almost swapped ends as his Dallara began to lose grip at the rear on lap 112. Wheldon seized the opportunity and took the lead. The points leader did not have much of a chance to make a getaway though; Danica Patrick backed into turn 2 resulting in a second caution on lap 126. Wheldon cleanly led through yellow flag pit stops while Buddy Lazier, subbing for injured Tomas Enge, was pushed into the pit road retaining wall by Ed Carpenter. The veteran's day came to an end as Wheldon led the field back to the flag on lap 141. Wheldon led over Castroneves and Hornish, who fell to 3rd, through heavy traffic and a third yellow generated by Buddy Rice making contact with turn 2.

     Most of the leaders made their final pit stop while Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan engendered intrigue with a questionable strategy that saw them lead the pack. Franchitti led over Kanaan, Wheldon, Castroneves and Hornish, now a distant 5th, at the flag. Hornish began his thrash to the front by brushing with Castroneves while diving into 4th. His teammate was unable to recover and made light contact in turn 2 resulting in the last yellow of the event. Hornish continued to tear through the field once the green flew. Wheldon momentarily held onto 3rd but ultimately gave way as Hornish set his eyes on Kanaan. By lap 200 Kanaan had blurs of Marlboro red and white in his mirrors and soon found himself wheel to wheel with Hornish for a few laps; Hornish kept to the outside and snatched 2nd. With three out of four AGR drivers behind him, Hornish locked onto a fuel-starved Franchitti. Hornish executed his signature pass along the outside on lap 211 and soon pulled away. Assuming he could cruise to victory was wishful thinking at best. Just two laps later he lost the lead almost identically as he had previously with a loose condition. Hornish gathered it all back up and took chase once again. Lap 217 saw the final lead change with Hornish back out in front for good solidifying Penske domination on the short tracks so far this season.

Results:

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