The pole and the crowd might have belonged to Danica Patrick. The trophy -- and the last word -- went to Tony Kanaan.
"You guys wanted Danica to win? Sorry," Kanaan said after his Indy Racing League victory yesterday at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan. "You got to wait until next time."
A 1-2-3 qualifying effort by Patrick and Rahal Letterman Racing teammates Buddy Rice and Vitor Meira led some to believe the team might dominate the Argent Mortgage Indy 300. Instead, Patrick's first career pole proved to be the highlight of her day. The 23-year-old rookie, only the second woman in league history to start from the pole, struggled with mechanical problems all day and finished ninth on the 11/2-mile tri-oval.
Kanaan edged Andretti Green teammate Dan Wheldon by .012 of a second for his first victory of the season and the fifth of his career.
Patrick said she did everything she could to win.
"It would have been nice to finish up front, where I think the car was fast enough to finish, but I worked so hard today," Patrick said. "I did all that I could."
With only three cautions and the last 61 laps of the 200-lap race under green, Wheldon's strategy of pitting earlier than the rest of the field appeared to have him headed to his fifth victory in eight races this season.
The points leader and Indianapolis 500 winner took the lead with three laps to go, when Rice had to pit.
But Kanaan, who pitted in the 190th lap, went ahead on the next lap and then held on to deny Weldon, whose lead over Kanaan shrank from 83 points to 75. Dario Franchitti, another Andretti Green racer, finished fourth.
* FORMULA ONE: In Magny-Cours, France, series leader Fernando Alonso won the French Grand Prix in a dominant display from the pole position.
The Renault driver won for the fifth time in 10 races this season, with Kimi Raikkonen taking second and seven-time champion Michael Schumacher finishing third.
Raikkonen, who started 13th, was 11.8 seconds behind in his McLaren-Mercedes. Although he had the third-fastest qualifying time, the Finn was penalized 10 spots for changing his engine following its failure during Friday's practice.
Ferrari's Schumacher was almost a lap behind. He won the U.S. Grand Prix against only five other drivers.
Alonso led from the start and was not challenged. He has 69 points in the overall standings, followed by Raikkonen with 45 and Schumacher with 40.
It was the first French title for the Renault team since 1983, and it came without a French driver in the field for the first time in 40 years.