Kanaan Wins Firestone Indy 400

It might have been the last IndyCar Series race at Michigan International Speedway today, but it might also be the first race referred to when the discussion turns to the all-time best races in the track's 39-year history. The Firestone Indy 400, won by Tony Kanaan, was one of the most compelling, competitive, terrifying and long events in all of IndyCar racing. None of the patient fans who sat through a 4 hour and 37-minute rain delay could have left disappointed, other than for the fact that open-wheel racing at MIS has been discontinued. Indy Racing League and MIS officials have been unable to reach an agreement to continue the event. It thus ended the 39-year reign of open-wheel racing at Michigan, at least for the time being. Kanaan's margin of victory over Andretti Green Racing teammate Marco Andretti was five thousandths of a second. That brought the total time in margins of victory in the six IndyCar races held at MIS to a combined 3.515 seconds. There were only a total of seven cars running at the end with 20 starting in this bizarre IndyCar race which saw points-leader Dario Franchitti getting airborne, where he twisted and turned while upside down before landing on the top of Scott Dixon. Also caught up in the vicious accident were A.J. Foyt IV, Sam Hornish Jr., Ed Carpenter and Tomas Scheckter. Amazingly, none of the drivers involved suffered serious injuries with Franchitti wiggling out of his totally crushed car once it was turned over. He walked away almost as if nothing serious had happened. "From a fan standpoint they had a lot of action,' Kanaan said, following his second triumph at MIS, the first coming in 1999 in the U.S. 500. "It's sad we are leaving. It was a crazy day. We need to go home and think about how we race each other. The cars are very safe, but we are very lucky. "What I saw out there was not pretty. Thank God I was behind at that point. It was either going to be me or him (Marco) who was going to win the race." But on the restart, following a 26-lap caution period to clean up all of the debris, Danica Patrick said she thought she had an, "80 percent chance to win.' With almost all of the most competitive cars out of the race and only six cars to contend with, it appeared Patrick would finally win her first race. But, like last year, lousy luck ended her day when her right rear tire went flat while she was running a strong third behind teammates Kanaan and Andretti. Last year she ran out of fuel with two laps remaining. "It's like the nightmare of my life. I can't believe it. I can't believe it," Patrick said over her radio as she coasted to the pits. Patrick would still finish seventh with the eighth-place finisher, Foyt VI, down 33 laps. Two drivers, Dixon and Hornish, got back into the race when their cars were repaired in the garage area, but neither finished the event. The seven-car finish tied the track record for least amount of cars running at the end. It happened on four other occasions. Even though it appeared that Franchitti was in what appeared to be a life-threatening situation, he watched the end of the race from his pit stall and managed to retain his 24-point lead over Dixon for the championship with four races remaining. There were 23 lead changes among nine drivers. The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series returns to MIS with the 3M Performance 400 on August 19. The NASCAR Busch Series also returns for the CARFAX 250 on August 18, which will be followed by a concert by Smash Mouth. For tickets, visit MISpeedway.com or call 800-354-1010. MIS, It's Your Speed!

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