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American IndyCar Series Round 15
California Speedway

Tony Kanaan Takes Third
Heads into final race 7 points behind point leader

The 15th round of the IndyCar series was held in Fontana, California, some 50 miles east and inland from Los Angeles. The California Speedway was completed in 1997. It is a superspeedway, with a total length of 2 miles, in which IndyCars battle it out at ultra-high speeds in excess of 220 mph. Honda Indy V-8 powered Tony Kanaan (Andretti Green Racing) went from 5th in the qualifiers to finish 3rd in today's race, closing the lead of the point leader from 14 after the 14th round, to just 7 after this one.

This was the third victory of the season for winner Sam Hornish Jr. (Panther Racing). Second place was taken by Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing).

Three Honda Indy V-8 powered racers made it into the top 5 of the qualifiers. Kenny Brack (Team Rahal) qualified second, earning the outside grid of the front row, while rookie Dan Wheldon (Andretti Green Racing) qualified fourth, and Kanaan qualified fifth.

This weekend in Fontana has been so hot that it's like the calendar has been turned back to mid-summer. They day of the race was the hottest, with temperatures in excess of 38°C at the start of the race, and reaching 40°C during the race. At the opening of the race, it was the five Honda Indy V-8 racers Brack, Wheldon, and Kanaan, and Roger Yasukawa (Super Aguri Fernandez Racing), who into a high position after qualifying 16th, then Bryan Herta (Andretti Green Racing), forming up the top group together with Thomas Scheckter (Target Chip Ganassi Racing), Helio Castroneves (Team Penske), Hornish Jr., and Dixon.

The first pit stop was made around the 40th lap, where problems with the fuel-pumping system cost Brack a long stop in the pits. Herta brushed another car coming out of a pit stop in the 77th lap, damaging his suspension and forcing him to retire.

This created a top group of seven cars, with Yasukawa closing out the bunch. The long 400-mile, 200-lap race played out in the grueling heat, but with the exception of one caution to clear debris from the course there were no full-course cautions, and the race was conducted at high speed all the way to the goal, with average speeds in excess of 200 mph. There were no great differences in speed between the cars, nor between the speeds of the crews and drivers working in the pits, and so it was a tight race till the end, without room for even the slightest error. The race was finished in 1 hour, 55 minutes, and 51.4395 seconds. The average speed was 207.151 mph, a new world record for motor sports using a circuit.

As a result, the victor in the battle for the championship will not be decided until the final race in Texas. The top 5 still have a chance at winning the title, and third-ranked Kanaan is aiming for a come-from-behind performance to usurp the crown. The battle for rookie of the year between the two Honda drivers Wheldon and Yasukawa has also heated up, with Wheldon's 4th-place finish and Yasukawa's 7th closing the gap between them to just 4 points. Like the driver's title, we will have to wait until the final race of the season to see how this battle will turn out.

American IndyCar Series Round 15
California Speedway

1 Sam Hornish Jr. (Pennzoil Panther Racing)
2 Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Rac)
3 Tony Kanaan (Andretti Green Racing)
4 Dan Wheldon (Andretti Green Racing)
5 Tomas Scheckter (Target Chip Ganassi Racing)
6 Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Team Penske)
7 Roger Yasukawa (Super Aguri Fernandez Racing)
8 Scott Sharp (Kelley Racing)
9 Al Unser Jr. (Kelley Racing)
10 Alex Barron (Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing)
14 Greg Ray (Access Motorsports)
20 Kenny Brack (Team Rahal)
22 Bryan Herta (Andretti Green Racing)
Tony Kanaan
Tony Kanaan

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