IndyCar » 01 April 2007
St Pete 2007: Helio nearly perfect.
Tony Kanaan recovered from an embarrassing opening lap collision with his Andretti-Green teammate Dario Franchitti that resulted in Kanaan dropping to the back of the field to complete the podium, but only after star of the show Darren Manning spun away a potential podium with 25 laps to go.
"I didn't help the team when I crashed yesterday during qualifying and went back to sixth place, and that's probably why I caused the accident," Kanaan confessed, "I hate to say it, but we had the car to win the race, we just didn't put ourselves in the position to do it. It's done and third place is better than nothing. We'll just work on the next one."
Manning had been a revelation in his AJ Foyt Racing entry up to that point, but his spin dropped him several laps and he eventually finished twelfth.
"The last 30 minutes killed me," the Briton admitted, "My feet were numb and my hands were in such pain as I tried to keep ahead of Tony. The steering was so heavy on full tanks and new tyres because this track has so much grip, and it was tough to hold on.
"In hindsight, I should have let Tony go. It was a fantastic weekend overall for a one-car effort, and it's a testament to the spirit of this team. We're just scratching the surface on performance."
Marco Andretti overcame his poor start to the season at Homestead with a confident fourth place finish, while Franchitti had to fight back from his collision with Kanaan and a subsequent drive-through penalty for breaking the pit-road speed limit to take fifth.
"It was the first stint that killed me," Andretti insisted, "I was pushing so hard that I killed the front tyres, flat-spotted them, so I was hanging on for dear life. We lost a lot of ground, and you need to be a half-second quicker to pass. It's qualifying the whole race."
Franchitti admitted to being unclear as to what exactly happened on the opening lap, but paid tribute to his team for their efforts in getting him back on the road.
"I'm not sure what happened - Tony was going around the outside and I was trying to stay out of trouble, but I had a bit of understeer and we got together," the Scot revealed.
"I have to thank the Canadian Club crew for fixing the car. We had a couple gos at it and the guys did a great job getting it back together. They didn't get the car back 100 per cent, but they made a bloody good attempt. The big thing was that, in the last 50 laps, we lost the brake pedal, so I was just staying out of trouble."
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