4 October 2004
Toyota Indy 300: Adrian's win, Tony's title.
Not so long ago Cheever Racing was becoming frustrated at hot property Tomas Scheckter's ability to become involved in big accidents, and the South African's current Panther squad must be enduring similar frustrations as yet another race ends with no result but a wrecked car. This time Scheckter was blameless, faced with nowhere to go after newcomer Tomas Enge spun the #20 Patrick Racing Dallara-Chevrolet, the pair colliding and hitting the turn four wall hard just one lap after the green had flown following Barron's accident. "I don't know exactly what happened," said Enge. "I was not very close to other cars ahead of me, as I had been earlier. I spun very quickly, but maybe it was a puncture and probably my mistake."
All this set up a one-lap sprint to the finish, Kanaan leading but Fernadez now ahead of Hornish, Castroneves and Rice. At the green Fenrandez went to the high side around turn two, and nosed ahead of Kanaan to take his second victory in a row - by 0.0183 of a second. "On the restart, I got sideways," grinned Adrian in victory lane. "I put so much power on. I wanted to get Tony (Kanaan) so bad, that I got sideways. I knew I had a stronger car. Tony really respected my line, and it was great. It was so close."
Kanaan was not disappointed at all, having sewn up the IRL title in style, while amazingly Wheldon fought his way back into third place, taking Franchitti, Rice and both Penskes in the space of a lap. "It was a tough race for us," Kanaan argued afterwards. "It probably didn't look that tough because we had a great car. I'm so excited for the team. I did some donuts over (in Turn 2) for (late driver) Greg Moore. He's still in my heart. My dad who couldn't be here, but it's a happy day, not a sad day. I have great teammates and great sponsors, 7-Eleven and Honda. It's a dream come true. Now I can relax a little bit."
Wheldon was happy for his team-mate; "That right there is a champion on the track and a champion off the track," he said of Kanaan, adding, "He'll represent the title like no one else." But the IRL's top Brit was also smarting over his penalty; "I think (IRL Sr. Vice President for Racing Operations) Brian Barnhart made a very bad call. I think when he makes a call like that he should go to the workshop and meet with my engineer and look over the data. I have a lot of respect for the guy, but the decision was very wrong."
Wheldon has one more chance for glory, and Kanaan the chance to relax and race for the fun of it, in the series finale on October 17, the Chevy 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. We of course will have the full story on crash.net.
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