FORT WORTH, Texas Tomas Scheckter edged Sam Hornish Jr.
by half a car-length Saturday night, while Danica Patrick finished
13th -- last on the lead lap -- in the first Indy Racing League event
since her thrilling finish at the Indianapolis 500.
The 24-year-old Scheckter, who raced to his only other series
victory in Michigan in 2002, became the first winner in a
Chevrolet-powered car since Hornish won for Panther Racing, the
team Scheckter now drives for, in the 2003 season finale.
Referring to Chevrolet, which had only two cars in the 22-car
field at Texas Motor Speedway and plans to withdraw its engine from
the IndyCar Series the season, Scheckter said, "American Revolution,
baby. It's good. They really worked really hard. I take my hat off
to all of them, and it shows that they've come back harder than
ever to win here and I thank them a lot.
"I want to be doing this again and again. We want to do this
"Danica Mania," in full bloom since Patrick finished fourth in
the Indy 500, took a night off as the 23-year-old racer, the only
woman in the field, quickly slipped back into the pack after
starting third and wound up finishing an uneventful 13th, the last
driver on the lead lap.
After leading in each of her last two races and coming close to
winning at Indy, Patrick was never a factor in the Bombardier
Learjet 500. Instead, she gave up the spotlight to a pack of IndyCar Series veterans who put on another in a series of great side-by-side
racing shows on the 1-mile Texas oval.
"It seems a lot like Homestead in March," she said, referring
to her IndyCar debut, in which she ran well but back in the pack before
getting caught up in a crash. "It's a lot of side-by-side racing,
and it's just something I have to get used to.
"I kind of had the same things happen at Homestead; you know,
you drop back at the beginning, kind of figure it out, then you're
behind -- it's OK. It's all part of the learning curve. Places like
the last race at Indy, I had lots of time to practice, so ... as
you can see, I just need practice."
The battle at the end came down to Scheckter, who started from
the pole for the third time in six races here, and two-time series
champion Hornish, with Scheckter, the son of former Formula One
champion Jody Scheckter, winning by 0.534 seconds, less than a
car-length. It was the 10th-closest finish in series history.
Scheckter, who had led more laps here than any other nonwinner
and never finished above 15th, threw his hands in the air in
celebration as the crowd of about 100,000 cheered. He led 119 of
the 200 laps Saturday night.
Tony Kanaan, the defending series champion, wound up a close
third, followed by Scott Sharp and Helio Castroneves, who all raced
in a tight pack over the final 20 laps, with Scheckter and Hornish
pulling away at the end.
Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon, going for a record fourth win in a
row in the series, threatened early but finished sixth.
Hornish did everything he could to get past Scheckter in the
last few laps, getting up to the rear of the leader but never able
to pull alongside.
"The outside pass, I think, with the right timing, I'd be able
to get it. But, as it turned out, I didn't have enough time."