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Kanaan denies Wheldon Kansas triumph.

Defending IndyCar Series Champion Tony Kanaan showed that the 2005 title chase isn't over just yet after fending off Dan Wheldon to claim victory in Sunday's Argent Mortgage Indy 300 at the Kansas Speedway.

Still searching for his first win of the season and coming off his first DNF since August 2003, Kanaan made swift work of his fourth row starting position to manoeuvre his way towards the front early on in the 200-lap blast around the flat-out 1.5-mile Kansas tri-oval.

Even though it would be Kanaan's Andretti-Green teammate Wheldon who would do most of the leading during a remarkably clean race, Kanaan had the reserves to keep his English born teammate half a nose behind him on the final tour, holding his line as the leaders charged off the final turn and keeping Wheldon at bay by less than half a car length.

Although the Brazilian driver only reduced his Championship deficit to Wheldon to an unofficial margin of 76 points with eight of 17 races completed, Sunday's win was valuable in the sense that Kanaan proved that it isn't just the Wheldon entry that has they keys to victory lane in 2005.

For his part Wheldon still showed winning form in abundance, leading a Kansas record 111 laps from 13th on the grid, holding off a typically tenacious Tomas Scheckter for much of the middle portion of the race. Even though the win deserted him in the end, Wheldon proved that his performance in Richmond was an anomaly and that he will still be one of the drivers to beat at every one of the remaining stops on the IRL tour.

Rahal-Letterman Racing's Vitor Meira qualified third and suddenly sprung into contention for the win late in the race. After losing to Buddy Rice by inches at Kansas in 2004 Meira crossed the line by a not too dissimilar margin this time, albeit in third place as a last corner dive to the bottom of the track resulted in a spectacular three-wide finish.

With only three of the 22 starters failing to finish and the final 60 laps running without a caution flag, positions throughout the top 15 changed almost lap after lap with a number of late race splash and dash fuel stops contributing to the late drama. Even though the 18 lead lap cars were strung out around the track when the chequered flag fell, Dario Franchitti still ensured that the top four finishers would be covered by less than half a second as he flashed across the line in a strong fourth place.

Scheckter continued his strong mid-season run for Panther Racing with fifth position ahead of veteran Scott Sharp and the leading Toyota runner Darren Manning. Richmond winner Helio Castroneves finished eighth with MBNA Polewinner Danica Patrick ninth after a day in which she ran strongly on the track but almost spun on pit road. Buddy Rice rounded out the top ten with Tomas Enge eleventh after his strongest IRL outing to date and Sam Hornish Jr 12th.

As the IRL season moves into its second half only Kanaan now remains within 100 points of Wheldon with everyone else seemingly scrapping over third place in the end of year standings.


Related Pictures

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Tony Kanaan, Indianapolis Motor Speedway 2005.
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)
Tony Kanaan with his MAV TV 500 trophy (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Tony Kanaan and crew celebrate winning the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California on Saturday August 30 2014 (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Tony Kanaan celebrates winning the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California on Saturday August 30 2014 (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Tony Kanaan and wife Lauren celebrate winning the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California on Saturday August 30 2014 (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Tony Kanaan and wife Lauren with the Winners Trophy after winning the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Confetti falls on the podium trio Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan and Ed Carpenter celebrate after the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan and Ed Carpenter celebrate after the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Tony Kanaan celebrates winning the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Tony Kanaan celebrates with Chip Ganassi after winning the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Tony Kanaan comes in for service during the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Tony Kanaan takes a selfie with his Target Chip Ganassi Racing crew in Victory Lane following the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Chip Ganassi congratulates Tony Kanaan on winning the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California on Saturday August 30 2014 (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Tony Kanaan celebrates winning the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California on Saturday August 30 2014 (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)

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