20 March 2005
Hornish sneaks Phoenix win.
Kanaan, who had to start at the rear of the 22-car field after changing engines after practice, passed eleven cars on the first lap and had risen to seventh by lap three. Thereafter progress was slower, and the 2003 and 2004 winner only made it passed Scott Sharp for fourth place with 40 laps to go. A botched refuelling stop in which he had to return to his stall for a second time didn't help, but on a day where his AGR teammates Wheldon and Franchitti led nearly three quarters of the race, Kanaan's steadier approach paid off in the end.
Franchitti, deranged suspension and all, was able to hang on for fourth place and a top five result he would have gladly taken at the start of the day when considering his early retirement at Homestead. However in light of his showing on Saturday, where his car was easily the best in traffic, fourth seemed a disappointing end to the day for the Scotsman.
On his 100th IRL start, Scott Sharp was the only other driver to complete all 200 laps and finished fifth for Fernandez Racing while Wheldon completed the top six, one lap down after leading the opening 70 tours.
Polesitter Bryan Herta seemed to have a car to match Wheldon and Franchitti in the early laps but, like Wheldon, found himself trapped at the end of the lead lap just before half distance when a green flag pitstop backfired. Like Wheldon, Herta discovered that his car didn't handle as well in traffic as it did in clean air, and was never a factor thereafter, finishing seventh.
A potentially strong run from Darren Manning wasn't helped by early contact with rookie Paul Dana, but the Englishman was still the most competitive of Chip Ganassi's three Panoz-Toyota entries and crossed the line in eighth place.
Patrick Carpentier had a solid, in unspectacular run to ninth place, his pace undoubtedly affected by the rib injuries he suffered in his Friday practice crash.
Homestead bad boy Kosuke Matsuura briefly ran with the top five during the opening stages of the race but faded during the second half. Two laps down at the end, he finished tenth, holding off Vitor Meira, Scott Dixon and Alex Barron.
Dixon didn't endear himself to his rivals and proved to be something of a rolling roadblock all day while Meira, like the rest of his Rahal-Letterman team, never found a comfortable set-up.
AJ Foyt IV, Danica Patrick and Ed Carpenter all made it through the day unscathed, finishing five, six and seven laps adrift respectively with their main concern being trying to stay out of the way of the faster cars.
Like his Panther teammate Scheckter, Tomas Enge's day also ended up against the turn four wall, as did rookie Ryan Briscoe. Dreyer & Reinbold's Roger Yasukawa struggled desperately, and eventually retired with incurable handling woes 30 laps from home while Ron Hemelgarn's rookie driver Paul Dana was eventually 'retired' after a slow 33 laps.
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