Kanaan pockets first win since 2008

NEWTON, Iowa -- Tony Kanaan went to bed Saturday night in a foul mood after qualifying 15th at a track that's brought him nothing but frustration.

He woke on Sunday determined not to let his shaky past at the Iowa Speedway or anywhere else dictate how he ran the Iowa 250.

Kanaan overtook fellow Brazilian Helio Castroneves with 10 laps left and held on to win at Iowa on Sunday, erasing three crash-filled years of history at the speedy short oval.

It was the first win since 2008 for Kanaan, who last took the checkered flag in Richmond two years ago. Kanaan ran into contact in each of his first three starts at Iowa, but he zipped past Castroneves on lap 240 and cruised to victory by over four seconds.

"I've had three years to think about why I didn't finish. When I came here people kept reminding me of that," said Kanaan, who led for 62 laps. "I never finished, and then I finished. I finished first, so know we have a different story."

Castroneves finished second and E.J. Viso was a career-best third. Penske teammates Ryan Briscoe and pole winner Will Power rounded out the top five.

Danica Patrick finished 10th. Dario Franchitti, a two-time winner in Iowa, had mechanical issues with 50 laps left and finished 18th, losing his points lead to Power in the process.

Kanaan started the race 15th, but he moved up quickly and took the lead about halfway through the race. Franchitti took the lead away from Kanaan with a quick pit stop 70 laps from the finish, but his quest for a third win in three starts at Iowa fell apart soon thereafter.

Castroneves leapfrogged Franchitti for the lead, and Franchitti soon went back to pit row when his gear box got stuck. It was the worst finish of the year for Franchitti, who dropped to third in the points race behind Power and Scott Dixon.

"I was shifting from sixth down to fifth and came up with a box full of neutrals," Franchitti said. "We had a winning car today, but it wasn't anybody's fault."

That left the race up to Kanaan and Castroneves, and Kanaan easily moved past his close friend Castroneves to pick up his 14th career IndyCar Series win.

"I should be happy, but with 10 laps to go it slipped right through my hands," Castroneves said.

Target Chip Ganassi teammates Dixon and Franchitti set the early pace, and Kanaan worked his way through the traffic in short order. Kanaan then hit his "push to pass" button and did just that, zooming past Franchitti for the lead just before the halfway point.

Kanaan had never finished higher than 14th at Iowa before Sunday's win, but he felt confident in his setup despite a shaky qualifying run.

"When you win from 15th and you pass every car on the race track, it's definitely a winning car," Kanaan said.

Patrick was never a factor in her final race before resuming her split IRL/Nationwide schedule. Patrick quickly faded from her starting spot, ninth, and never threatened the lead pack.

KV Racing's Takuma Sato, an IndyCar Series rookie with just one top-20 to his credit entering Iowa, got as high as third before smacking the wall 73 laps from the finish. The former Formula One driver from Tokyo who finished 19th.

The Iowa 250's unfortunate tradition of early dustups continued, as Justin Wilson spun out late in the first lap and smacked Mario Moraes on his driver's side, sending Moraes into the wall.

The race went green 15 minutes earlier than scheduled because of some nasty spots on the local radar. The field and the fans got lucky, though, as the rain stayed away from the track.

Kanaan finally got lucky at Iowa too, and his good fortune extended beyond the track.

Kanaan, who is a big soccer fan, planned to ask his radio crew to keep him up to date on the Brazil-Ivory Coast World Cup match happening at the same time as the race. He was too busy to keep track of Brazil's progress until after the race, when he received the news that his team had beaten Ivory Coast 3-1.

"We need a small reason to go party. Now we have plenty of reasons. We have two Brazilians on the podium, we won the game," Kanaan said. "I think it must be holiday at home."