Toyota Indy 400
by Esteban Morales
October 16 , 2005
Andretti Green Racing came very close to perfectly capping a 2005 season that saw Dan Wheldon carve his face onto the Borg Warner and simultaneously capture the series championship. As the IndyCar season drew to a close at the California Speedway fans were almost treated to another exciting wheel-to-wheel finish reminiscent of last year's. To their dismay though, Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan did not race to the finish line. Similar to Ferrari's controversial Formula One antics in years past, Kanaan appeared to let off the gas on the final lap after picking up a burst of momentum exiting turn 4 that would have surely won the race. Though Kanaan claimed he missed a shift, the onboard camera and audio suggested otherwise.
While some may hesitate to call it a true flag to flag victory, Franchitti did come into the Toyota Indy 400 with pole in hand. Tomas Scheckter started next to the Scotsman and valiantly tried to give Chevrolet its last IndyCar victory, at least for now. Scheckter hounded Franchitti from the drop of the green battling side by side with the AGR driver. By the fourth lap Scheckter took the lead and held off Franchitti, Sam Hornish Jr. and Tony Kanaan.
After having visible trouble in the race, lightly brushing a wall and pitting out of sequence, A.J. Foyt IV backed his car into turn 2 during his final IndyCar start before moving to NASCAR's Busch series. The lap 31 yellow gave way to pit stops, though Scheckter led them in Kanaan emerged on point. The drivers saw a short green flag stint just before another yellow was thrown after Bryan Herta's visor strangely flapped open and refused to close properly. Kanaan led them to the green on lap 55 and began his race-long battle with teammate Franchitti. Scheckter soon joined them at the front and retook command of the event on lap 65. From then Panther Racing's lead driver dominated the event and held onto his lead through green flag pit stops just before the halfway mark. Scheckter only lost the lead after stalling his car during his third pit stop of the day on lap 124 and was never able to fully recover.
Franchitti assumed the lead once again and continued his side-by-side battle with Kanaan; both even pitted together several times. Franchitti, however, visibly had the upper hand throughout most of the race while Kanaan occasionally pulled from behind the draft and threatened to take the lead. The AGR teammates comfortably drove away from the rest of the field just as the final yellow emerged late in the race after Danica Patrick and Jaques Lazier touched and collided with the turn 4 SAFER Barrier. Franchitti and Kanaan were given the green with eight to go and again both ran away with the race while the rest battled for scraps. Franchitti went on to capture an emotional victory capped off with turn 2 donuts in memory of the late Greg Moore.