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Rice steals Michigan prize as pit crews suffer.

Lap 100, half-distance, and Kanaan earned his three bonus points for leading the most laps, but now he was under a two-pronged attack from Rice and Meira. The pack behind was headed by Scheckter, desperately trying to catch the leaders and get his lap back, but on lap 108 he peeled off and headed for pit road in the hope of trying to do the job when the leaders made their next stop. But minutes later the second caution flag flew, again for debris, and the entire field except for Scheckter headed in for fuel and tyres.

Kanaan came out first again from Rice, while Penske got their stops right this time, Hornish jumping to third from Meira and Wheldon. The green flew on 116 and the top three went across the line side-by-side, Rice moving ahead but Kanaan coming straight back to retain his lead

The yellow was out again on lap 124, caused by a combination of slight contact between Meira and Castroneves and Dario Franchitti's bad luck returning with a blown engine, last week's winner posting this week's first retirement. More chaos followed in the resultant pit stops, as Meira's slowing car was run into by Fernandez's exiting one, spinning into Wheldon's front tyre changer. Again he escaped unhurt, while as Meria dropped down the field so did his team-mate, Rice coming in after everyone else after earning some possibly vital bonus points for leading a lap but losing serious track position in the process.

The restart on lap 132 saw Kanaan back in the lead from Hornish and Bryan Herta in the fourth Andretti-Green Dallara, while Rice and Meira were coming back through the field. Ahead of them the two Penskes raced frantically three-wide with Wheldon, the two Marlboro-backed drivers only just avoiding contact and an embarrassing interview with their boss Captain Roger Penske.

Meanwhile the lap-down Scheckter had caught Kanaan, and on lap 145 he went side-by-side with the leader. Tony tried to hold him back and in the process allowed everyone else to close up, the pack now led by Rice after a storming recovery from the Rahal-Letterman team leader. On lap 149 he tried to go around Scheckter who was still side-by-side with Kanaan, but the move didn't work and Rice was again forced to defend from Hornish. Then it all went wrong for Scheckter, the Panther car slowing on the backstretch out of fuel, coming to a halt and sparking a caution just at the right time for everyone else to make their final fuel stop.

Amazingly the pits provided action of the frightening kind for a third time, Fernandez locking up and spinning backwards into his pit box, knocking one of his crew members flying but again so luckily without injury. Meira was also in trouble, potential suspension damage from his earlier clashes dropping him down the field, and as they lined up for the restart it was a familiar tale, Kanaan ahead of Rice, Hornish and Wheldon.

The green flew on lap 163 and Rice again moved alongside Kanaan, but still he did not appear to have the power to go past, and Hornish took advantage to snatch second. Rice regained the spot within five laps but by that time Kanaan had built a gap.

As the laps ran down, however, Rice closed back in while further back the two Penske cars ran side-by-side ahead of the similar side-by-side Ganassi cars of Manning and Dixon. The entertainment was here, because no matter how he tried Rice seemed to have nothing for the leader. As Hornish and Castroneves ran alongside each other Manning moved outside both of them, and on lap 177 he was third, team-mate Dixon immediately taking Hornish for fifth.

Now fuel became the talking point, most team owners fearing they'd only just have enough for lap 200. The drivers couldn't worry, they had their hands full as the lead pair were caught by the following six. Battling hardest were the two Ganassi cars, almost colliding with 17 laps left.

Into the final 10 laps and the top six runners were lined up in a drafting pack, and Rice now moved outside Kanaan again, but this time he made the move stick. Kanaan ducked in behind the Rahal-Letterman car, the lead two putting daylight over Hornish and Manning, and suddenly Rice opened a gap to Kanaan. The championship leader looked beaten, but with three to go he suddenly closed back in, while further back there was almost an almighty shunt as Meira and Castroneves banged wheels, amazingly keeping going.



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Pit crew accidents like this one were a frightening aspect of Michigan.
Rice (on outside) worked hard for his win.
Rice, looking like a potential champion.
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Bryan Herta Autosport 2015 Indy 500 entry sponsored by Green1. (Picture Credit: Bryan Herta Autosport)
Will Power celebrates with his team after winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates with his team owner Roger Penske after winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates with his wife Liz after winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Saturday, August 30, 2014 during the last Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. This is the third consecutive win for Chevrolet at Auto Club Speedway. Chevrolet wins the Manufacturer`s Championship for the third straight season. (Photo by Gregg Ellman/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Team Chevy sweeps the podium as Tony Kanaan (center), driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Saturday, August 30, 2014, during the last Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Teammate Scott Dixon (left), driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6, finishes second, and Ed Carpenter, driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet V6, finishes third. Chevrolet wins the Manufacturer`s Championship for the third straight season. (Photo by Gregg EllmanLAT for Chevy Racing)
Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Chevrolet IndyCar V6, takes the chequered flag while racing to victory Saturday, August 30, 2014 during the last Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. This is the third consecutive win for Chevrolet at Auto Club Speedway. Chevrolet wins the Manufacturer`s Championship for the third straight season. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Chevrolet IndyCar V6, makes a quick pit stop while racing to victory Saturday, August 30, 2014 during the last Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. This is the third consecutive win for Chevrolet at Auto Club Speedway. Chevrolet wins the Manufacturer`s Championship for the third straight season. (Photo by Brian Cleary/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship by posing with the Astor Challenge Cup Saturday, August 30, 2014 after the last race of the season at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Chevrolet clinches its third straight Manufacturer`s Championship. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)

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