Franchitti Climbs Pikes Peak
August 22, 2004 | 3:03 P.M. EST
Franchitti moved ahead of teammate Tony Kanaan on the 30th lap and held on to his advantage until just before the first round of pit stops, when Penske Racing’s Sam Hornish, Jr. moved to the front. Hornish appeared to be Franchitti’s strongest challenger in the middle portion of the 225-lap contest, but then spun and crashed out on Lap 157. Other than another brief appearance at the front by Kanaan on Lap 161, Franchitti was in control for the rest of the day.
“We had a strong car right at the start," said Franchitti. "I probably went out a bit too strong because at the end of the stint the car got very loose. But I learned my lesson after that and didn’t go out so strong right after my pit stops. I’m lucky the engineers at Andretti Green gave me a great car today and Honda obviously brought us some major horsepower. These low-grip tracks really suit my driving style and I was able to take advantage of that today."
Also making a strong charge up through the field in the second half of the race, Adrian Fernandez followed up his win last weekend at Kentucky Speedway with a second-place run today. Already a tworace winner this year, Dan Wheldon kept his championship hopes very much alive with a third-place finish. Darren Manning finished fourth followed by points leader Tony Kanaan.
Kanaan set an IndyCar Series record for laps led in a season with 813. Marlboro Team Penske’s Sam Hornish Jr. surpassed 2,000 career laps led – an IndyCar Series record.
Next week the IRL IndyCar Series moves on to its fifth, and final, short track event of the season. The Firestone Indy 225 takes place at Nazareth Speedway on August 29.