The results: Last year's Grand Prix
By Time staff writer
Published March 30, 2007
Helio Castroneves earned his first IndyCar victory on a road course, leading a race-high 40 of 100 laps. The Brazilian took the lead from Scott Dixon on Lap 45, passing him at the end of the long straight heading into Turn 1. Castroneves lost the lead twice on pit stops, but took the top spot back for good when Dixon stopped for a splash of fuel with six laps to go. Castroneves won under caution, from time to time using aggressive tactics. "I don't know if they like me today," Castroneves said, smiling. "I wasn't waiting too long to make my pass. I didn't have many second thoughts. I was just pushing my way in."
The 2005 race and series champion, Dan Wheldon, had a difficult time all weekend in his adopted home race. He qualified 13th in the second race for his new team, Chip Ganassi Racing. In the race, as teammate Scott Dixon was dicing for the victory, Wheldon could never rise above mid-pack. First the native Englishman and Marco Andretti banged together on Lap 7. Then just when Wheldon was starting to pick his way back through the field, he and Sam Hornish collided on Lap 57 - under caution, no less - and Wheldon's suspension was damaged too badly to continue.
First on Saturday, last on Sunday
Dario Franchitti sat on the pole for the race after running a qualifying lap of 104.054 mph. He led the first 14 laps, but a wheel bearing failed on Lap 15, knocking him out of the race and relegating him to last in the 19-car field.
Danica Patrick ran in mid-pack much of the race but took advantage of some late attrition to finish sixth, her career best on a road course. It turned out to be one of only three top-six finishes for Patrick, the 2005 rookie of the year.
Long slump begins
Buddy Rice, who led for a spell thanks to pit strategy in the middle of the race, ran in the top five much of the day, but his strong run ended when he and Tomas Scheckter collided three laps from the end. The incident typified Rice's luck in an awful season. First the 2004 Indy 500 champion withdrew from the opener at Homestead (along with Danica Patrick) after Rahal Letterman Racing teammate Paul Dana's death in a practice crash. Rice ended the season with just two top-10 finishes.
Seal of approval
Castroneves, upon seeing the crowd before the race, said, "We have to face it, this is the second biggest event of the series. Obviously, the first one is Indianapolis, but it's because it's been there for so many years."
"We drove the wheels off the car every lap." - Tony Kanaan, on the three-way battle for the lead involving him, Dixon and Castroneves