Honda Racing / IZOD IndyCar Series / RacingLine
IndyCar Dominance Continues with Honda's Second Consecutive Manufacturers' Championship
As the Indy Racing League season hits the home stretch, Andretti-Green Racing has a firm grasp on victory lane and the 2005 championship.
With only three races remaining, the battle for the title is pretty much between AGR teammates Dan Wheldon and Tony Kanaan.
Wheldon, who won four of the first five races including the Indianapolis 500, captured his fifth victory at Colorado Springs, which not only tied Sam Hornish's mark set in 2002, it also clinched the Manufacturers' Championship for Honda for the second straight season.
The 27-year-old Brit owns a comfortable, but not insurmountable, 79-point lead over Kanaan heading to Chicago, Watkins Glen and the season finale at Fontana, Calif.
"I'm not celebrating anything until I've got my hands around the championship trophy," said Wheldon, who's had only two DNFs in 14 starts. "Tony always runs hard and he's not about to back off."
Kanaan, the defending IRL champion, made things interesting by winning the IRL's inaugural road-course event at Sonoma last month while Wheldon suffered a rare DNF.
"It's still going to be tough to catch Dan, but my plan is to win the last three races and see what happens," said Kanaan, following his one-second triumph over Buddy Rice at Infineon Raceway and his second victory of 2005.
"I'm just happy because it looks like the championship is going to be decided by our team and Honda."
Honda's drivers have won 10 of 14 races, with Dario Franchitti, Bryan Herta and Scott Sharp each winning once.
After leading six of the first eight shows and having the fastest car in many of them but no victories to show for it, Franchitti finally got a win at Nashville.
Herta joined the AGR Winner's Circle Club at Michigan by winning the pole, leading 159 laps and holding off Wheldon at the checkered flag.
Sharp, who earlier celebrated his 100th consecutive start, earned his initial Honda win at Kentucky.
"I've been chasing Honda for the past couple years and I can't tell you how good it feels to have one behind me," said Sharp.
Rookie Danica Patrick, whose fourth-place run at Indianapolis vaulted her into the national media spotlight, continued to make headlines by winning the pole positions at Kansas City and Kentucky. She finished seventh at Nashville but the best race of her young career came at Milwaukee where she qualified sixth, ran with the leaders all day and lapped some of her more experienced competition before crashing in Turn 2.
Rice, who missed Indy due to injuries, was back in the cockpit at Texas but other than qualifying second at Kansas City and third at Michigan, the '04 Indy winner had been plagued by mechanical failures in the races before his second at Sonoma.
Vitor Meira continues to get tantalizingly close to that first win as he ran second at Indy and Kentucky and finished third at Kansas City -- just a couple feet behind winner Kanaan.
Overall, Honda's power is shown in the fact its drivers have led over 1,300 laps and five times have swept the top three spots.