Kanaan King At Kansas
July 3, 2005 | 1:02 A.M. EST
The victory was the first in nearly a year for the defending IRL IndyCar Series champion in the Team 7-Eleven Honda Dallara, allowing him to cut slightly into Wheldon’s sprint to the 2005 title.
Wheldon seemed to hold the upper edge as the pair raced side by side for the final three laps, but Kanaan rocketed out of turn four in the high groove to nip Wheldon at the wire in the sixth-closest finish in IRL history.
Rahal Letterman’s Vitor Meira trailed the pair down the stretch, and then dipped below the white line exiting the final turn. He finished inches behind Wheldon in the second-closest 1-2-3 finish in IRL history, .0242 seconds.
“It was close, huh?” Wheldon said in Gatorade Victory Lane. “I knew Dan was going to clean to me. It’s been awhile, almost a year.”
Kanaan’s last triumph was at Nashville Superspeedway, where the series next visits in two weeks.
Danica Patrick won the pole for Rahal Letterman but was never a factor for much of the race, struggling with her pit stops and failing to lead a lap while being mired around 15th in the 22-car field. However, she came on strong near the finish, and was running third when she pitted for a splash of fuel with 11 laps remaining.
“Today I learned the comfort zones of side-by-side racing,” she said after finishing ninth. I learned to set people up and not get frustrated. It would have been nine to finish up front. I worked hard. I raced side by side for virtually the entire 200 laps.”
Dario Franchitti finished fourth for Andretti Green, followed by the Chevrolet of Tomas Scheckter, who led 63 laps, the Honda of Scott Sharp, and the Toyotas of Darren Manning and Helio Castroneves.
Marlboro Team Penske’s Sam Hornish Jr. attempted a fuel gamble, but it failed when the final 70 laps were held under green.
Kanaan’s victory trims Wheldon’s lead in the points to 76 counters. Castroneves is third, 105 points out, while Franchitti moves up to fourth, 116 behind. Patrick’s finish moves her up into the top 10.