Wheldon wins Joliet race, but Sam's the man

September 11th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Wheldon wins Joliet race, but Sam's the man


Dan Wheldon won the battle, but Sam Hornish Jr. won the war -- and a $1 million payday.
Wheldon led the most laps (166 of 200) and captured the Peak Antifreeze Indy 300 on Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet. But Roger Penske's team took its first Indy Racing League championship with Hornish, who finished third in the race.

It was the third IndyCar Series title for Hornish, who earned a $1 million bonus.
''This is right up there with winning the Indy 500,'' Hornish said. ''I'm super excited. With this and winning Indy, which has been the highlight of my career, it's been an unbelievable season for me.


The final league tallies after Sunday's race at Joliet Speedway:

Rank/Driver: Points
1. Sam Hornish Jr. : 475
2. Dan Wheldon: 475:
3. Helio Castroneves : 473
4. Scott Dixon : 460:
5. Vitor Meira: 411:
6. Tony Kanaan: 384
7. Marco Andretti: 325
8. Dario Franchitti: 311
9. Danica Patrick: 302
10. Tomas Scheckter : 298


1. (3) Dan Wheldon, Dallara-Honda, 200, 194.828 mph., running, $125,800.
2. (2) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 200, running, $94,850.
3. (1) Sam Hornish Jr., Dallara-Honda, 200, running, $88,750.
4. (4) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, 200, running, $63,000.
5. (12) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Honda, 199, running, $61,300.
6. (6) Vitor Meira, Dallara-Honda, 199, running, $50,200.
7. (13) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda, 199, running, $48,700.
8. (10) Jeff Simmons, Dallara-Honda, 199, running, $47,400.
9. (5) Scott Sharp, Dallara-Honda, 199, running, $47,400.
10. (7) Tomas Scheckter, Dallara-Honda, 199, running, $45,900.
11. (8) Kosuke Matsuura, Dallara-Honda, 199, running, $44,400.
12. (15) Danica Patrick, Dallara-Honda, 199, running, $43,100.
13. (9) Buddy Rice, Dallara-Honda, 199, running, $41,800.
14. (11) A.J. Foyt IV, Dallara-Honda, 198, running, $42,200.
15. (18) Bryan Herta, Dallara-Honda, 198, running, $38,900.
16. (16) Sarah Fisher, Dallara-Honda, 198, running, $37,500.
17. (17) Jeff Bucknum, Dallara-Honda, 198, running, $36,100.
18. (14) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 198, running, $36,100.
19. (19) Marty Roth, Dallara-Honda, 160, in garage, $34,600.

Time of Race: 1 hour, 33 minutes, 37.2662 seconds.
Margin of Victory: 0.1897 of a second.
Caution Flags: Two for 12 laps.
Lead Changes: 21 among 4 drivers. Lap Leaders: Dixon 1, Wheldon 2, Dixon 3-4, Wheldon 5-14, Foyt 15-17, Wheldon 18-64, Dixon 65-68, Wheldon 69-108, Hornish 109, Wheldon 110-114, Hornish 115-117, Dixon 118-121, Wheldon 122-151, Hornish 152-155, Wheldon 156-166, Dixon 167-174, Wheldon 175, Dixon 176-178, Wheldon 179, Dixon 180, Wheldon 181-200.

''There is still a lot to do. I'm three wins at Indy behind Rick Mears and A.J. [Foyt] and Big Al [Unser Sr.].''
All 19 cars that started Sunday were on the track at the end.

''We went out and tried to be as smart as we could, stay with the leaders and not be part of an accident,'' Hornish said.

Hornish came into the 14th and final race of the series one point behind teammate Helio Castroneves, who finished fourth after hitting an early snag when he was sent to the back for a pit speed violation.

''I didn't understand why I was penalized and not some others,'' Castroneves said. ''I guess I'll have to agree with the Florida police. I have a lot of speeding tickets.

''It was a great championship, and both teams did a great job. This showed that every point is important. With a one-point lead, I had to take chances.''

Under a yellow flag, Castroneves got close.
''It was frustrating for me,'' Castroneves said. ''They were running 214 [mph], and I was about 213. I had some trouble getting around one guy [Tony Kanaan].''

Castroneves made up most of the ground the penalty cost him before a side-by-side tussle with Kanaan. Then, with about 10 laps to go, Castroneves' and Ed Carpenter's cars bumped, and the two-time Indy 500 winner from Brazil settled for fourth.

With all of his success, this was the first IndyCar Series title for motorsports legend Penske, who came into the season with 11 national championships.

''This was a day of two races,'' Penske said. ''There was the race for the race and the race for the championship. A big difference was that our pit crew was at its best today.''

Hornish and Wheldon finished the series with 475 points each, but with four victories to Wheldon's two, Hornish won the title. Castroneves, who also won four races, had 473 points.

Wheldon's teammate with Target Chip Ganassi Racing, Scott Dixon, finished second in the race and fourth in the series with 460 points.

''Obviously, we had one goal, and a loss is a loss,'' Wheldon said. ''When you look at the record book, I was second.

''At the end, this was about making a point for next year. The top four were so close. You have to give credit to Sam and Roger.''

NOTE: Danica Patrick finished 12th in her final race with the Rahal Letterman team. She will celebrate her new sponsor for 2007, Andretti Green IndyCar, by driving her new car on the streets of Chicago to a news conference at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the River East Arts Center, 435 E. Illinois.

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