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INDYApril 13, 2003
American IndyCar Series Round 3
Twin Ring Motegi

First IndyCar Race in Japan Sees Kenny Brack Take Second

The sun was shining at Twin Ring Motegi in Ibaraki Prefecture for the Bridgestone Indy Japan 300, the first IndyCar race ever held in this country. Honda Indy V-8 riders Kenny Brack and Michael Andretti finished second and fourth, respectively, while 1996 series champion Scott Sharp took victory.

A packed crowd of 71,000 saw the 24 IndyCar drivers put on a thrilling display from the very beginning, often racing side by side. Six drivers led at different times, with 13 changes of lead. There were fierce battles and non-stop changes in order in the middle of the field too, and crashes occurred in the top group and the middle group. There were nine full course cautions in all. The pace car appeared on Lap 64, and even led the field during a full course caution up until the checkered flag.

Tony Kanaan, another Honda Indy V-8 rider, started from second on the grid and took the lead on Lap 70, but he unfortunately collided with pole starter Scott Sharp on Turn 3 of Lap 178 and crashed out of the race.

With ten laps left after the restart, Kenny Brack moved smartly up from fifth to second place, and if things had continued as they were he would still have been in with a chance of victory. Andretti was also bringing his influence to bear by moving up from sixth to fourth. But an eighth accident on Turn 4 with only six laps to go meant that the race finished during a full course caution.

With only 11 cars finishing this survival race, Andretti crossed the line in fourth, rookie Dan Weldon in seventh and Greg Ray in ninth. Japanese rookie Roger Yasugawa was forced to retire on Lap 46 while lying in fifth position due to handling problems caused by the wing flying off another car and hitting his front tyre. Wild card driver Shinji Nakano worked his way up to eighth place at one point, but crashed on Turn 4 just after the final restart.

Indy Series champion two years in a row Sam Hornish Jr. started from 13th on the grid before showing some of his characteristically exciting overtaking to finish sixth. Tora Takagi was involved in the battle for the lead early on, but various problems including trouble in the pits meant that he could only manage eighth place. Female driver Sarah Fisher retired after a crash on Lap 36.

Kanaan was rushed to hospital by helicopter just after his accident for checks on his injuries to his left wrist and right thigh, but was soon released. He was due to return to the US the following day.

American IndyCar Series Round 3
Twin Ring Motegi

1 Scott Sharp (Kelley Racing/D/T/F)
2 Kenny Brack (Team Rahal/D/H/F)
3 Felipe Giaffone (Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing/G/T/F)
4 Michael Andretti (Andretti Green Racing/D/H/F)
5 Al Unser Jr. (Kelley Racing/D/T/F)
6 Sam Hornish Jr. (Panther Racing/D/C/F)
7 Dan Wheldon (Andretti Green Racing/D/H/F)
8 Tora Takagi (Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing/G/T/F)
9 Greg Ray (Access Motorsports/G/H/F)
10 Robbie Buhl (Dreyer & Reinbold Racing/D/C/F)
11 Shinji Nakano (Beck Motorsports/D/H/F)
14 STony Kanaan (Andretti Green Racing/D/H/F)
21 Roger Yasukawa (Super Aguri Fernandez Racing/D/H/F)
Kenny Brack
Kenny Brack

M.Andretti & D.Wheldon
Left: M.Andretti
Right: D.Wheldon

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