It appeared Tony Kanaan had the best car in the Pocono IndyCar 500 Sunday.
Kanaan led 78 laps in his No. 10 Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) Honda and while most other drivers were saving fuel in the early going, the Brazilian-born driver thought otherwise.
“We had a very strong Target car, and I think that shows a lot about what this team and I are capable of when we get the setup right,” Kanaan said.
The CGR driver brought his car down pit road during the only caution of the race on lap 159 and tried to save enough fuel to win the race.
Fisher-Hartman Racing driver Josef Newgarden also pitted with Kanaan and had to pit for a splash of fuel with five laps to go.
The fuel didn’t live in the No. 10 car and Kanaan brought his machine down pit road with three laps to go and surrendered the lead to eventual race winner Juan Pablo Montoya.
“It’s obviously frustrating to dominate a race like that and not win,” he added. “We just missed going to full 500-mile distance by a few laps and it heartbreaking when those things happen, but that is racing as they say, and we will focus on Iowa now and put it behind us.”
Kanaan had to settle for an 11th-place finish after excelling most of the day. The 39-year-old driver joined CGR for the 2014 season after running with Andretti Autosport and KV Racing most of his IndyCar career. He also won his first Indianapolis 500 last season.
On the flip side, his teammates — Ryan Briscoe and last year’s Pocono IndyCar winner Scott Dixon — started to work their way up the running order late in the race.
Briscoe and Dixon started 10th and 15th in the race, respectively, and dug themselves into an early hole.
Once the late caution bunched up the field, however, both drivers started to make a charge towards the front.
As Newgarden and their CGR teammate Kanaan had to pit for fuel late, Briscoe and Dixon quietly sneaked into the top five towards end of the race.
Briscoe scored his first top-five finish of the year with a fourth. His previous best on the 2014 IndyCar season was a sixth in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis in May.
“Things are really looking up for NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing, and I’m just glad we finally were able to get a finish that mirrored our efforts,” Briscoe said. “We just keep looking better and better as the season progresses and I think we have a lot to look forward to in the second half of this season.”
Defending champ Dixon came home behind him in fifth after starting the race mid-pack.
“It wasn’t a great day for us maybe overall speed-wise, but we had made our way to the top five there at the end of the race,” Dixon said. “And to get a top-five finish after where we started isn’t that bad.”
It was a bright spot for Dixon, who rebounded after finishing 19th and 18th in both races in the Shell/Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston last weekend.
“Hopefully this builds us some momentum for the next few races,” he said.
The Verizon IndyCar Series will head to a second straight oval race next weekend at Iowa Speedway.