NASCAR & Auto Racing

Drivers say lapped cars clog final laps

KANSAS CITY, Kan. —Dario Franchitti, who finished second, and Tony Kanaan, who was third, criticized the drivers of lapped cars, who prevented cars on the lead lap from making moves on the track.

"The back markers (lapped cars) appear that the race for one or two or three laps down are more important than the lead-lap racing," Franchitti said. "They run side by side, they're driving you up into the gray, giving you absolutely no room for the front of the pack.

"When I'm a lap down, I'm going to give the right of way to the lead-lap cars, especially with three laps to go. What are they going to do, get their lap back? I don't understand their thinking. It's almost a respect thing. I've seen two or three races this season where back markers have caused problems."

Kanaan said: "When there's three laps to go, you know exactly where you are. And you have the second- and third-and fourth-place guys, and you're not fighting for position with anybody, why are you going to fight us? It's a matter of common sense. They know exactly what they're doing, so it's even worse."

KU's Gill goes for ride — Kansas football coach Turner Gill rode three laps at Kansas Speedway in an IndyCar two-seater on Saturday morning with veteran Davey Hamilton behind the wheel.

"That's what I wanted, an experienced guy when you're running around the track at 170 mph," Gill said. "It was exhilarating, exciting, it's an event I'm going to remember. It gets your blood flowing... can I get my whole football team to do that right before a game? That would get them ready."

This was Gill's second experience at an auto race. He rode in the pace car at the road course at Watkins Glen, but said that didn't compare to the IndyCar ride.

"Boy, I liked IndyCars," said Gill, who also took part in the driver introduction ceremony. "After the first lap, you're kind of just hanging on. Then I loosened up... I survived."

Yellow flags rare — In a race that featured five rookies, Helio Castroneves was concerned he'd see plenty of yellow.

But only four caution flags flew.

"You've go to trust a lot of people that you don't know, that's the scary part," Castroneves said. "But I have to say everybody behaved really well, even during the restarts with so many cars together. The rookies did well. They need the laps to understand the ovals."

Countrymen collide — Hideki Mutoh was looking for the sixth top five finish in his 39-race career, but he collided with fellow Japanese driver Takuma Sato, a rookie making his oval debut.

"We both had no where to go," Sato said. "It's very, very unfortunate. I feel bad for the fans, particularly all the Japanese fans and all of Hideki's fans."

It didn't GoDaddy — Danica Patrick was never among the leaders. She stayed in the middle of the pack most of the day and finished 11th.

"It was really disappointing," Patrick said. "I think the GoDaddy car was actually pretty strong. I really wanted to enjoy a great run today, but it just didn't happen for us."

First oval positive — In his first oval event, Alex Tagliani ran strong. He spent some time in the top five and finished eighth.

"It's very motivating for everyone on the team to have a good result in our first oval event," Tagliani said. "We were able to stay with the leaders."