On a day when more than half the IndyCar Series field was eliminated by crashes, Andretti Green Racing’s Tony Kanaan bested teammate Marco Andretti in a final 10-lap duel to win Sunday’s Firestone Indy 400 at Michigan Speedway. It was Kanaan’s third victory of the season, and kept his championship hopes alive with four races remaining.
The 200-lap event was delayed almost five hours from its scheduled noon EDT start by morning rain showers, with the 20-car field finally getting the green flag just before 5 p.m. EDT. Kanaan started eighth, but quickly moved into the lead group, then somehow managed to a multi-car crash on Lap 143 that involved nine cars in the lead group, eliminating three on the spot, with three more eventually retiring due to crash-related damage.
The crash was triggered when pole qualifer and early leader Dario Franchitti and Dan Wheldon made wheel-to-wheel contact while contesting the lead, sending Franchitti upside down and high into the air, eventually landing on top of championship rival Scott Dixon. Franchitti escaped uninjured from his overturned machine and finished a “lucky” 13 th . Wheldon, Tomas Scheckter and Ed Carpenter also were eliminated in the crash, but all drivers escaped serious injury. The cars of Dixon, A.J. Foyt IV and Sam Hornish Jr. were heavily damaged, with Dixon and Hornish making only brief returns to the track, while Foyt was able to finish the race in eighth.
Crashes earlier in the race ended the day for Jon Herb; Vitor Meira and Helio Castroneves; Sarah Fisher and Darren Manning. Manning and Castroneves received minor leg injuries, but both were released after treatment at the infield medical center.
Danica Patrick was one of the few lead-pack cars to escape damage in the multi-car wreck, and looked like a potential race winner, but was forced to pit on Lap 186 to replace a deflating right rear tire, ending the chance for her first IndyCar victory. She finished seventh.
Scott Sharp’s Rahal Letterman Racing Honda was damaged in the Lap 143 crash, striking the back of Kosuke Matsuura’s Super Aguri Panther Racing entry. But quick pit work by both teams led to Sharp and Matsuura contesting third place in the closing laps. Sharp claimed the position by less than a tenth of a second at the checkers, while fourth for Matsuura equaled his best previous IndyCar result. Buddy Rice rounded out the top five for Dreyer and Reinbold Racing, his third top-five finish of the season.
It will be a short turn-around for IndyCar crews this week, as the series next heads to the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway oval for Saturday night’s Meijer Indy 300.