This is my fourth in a
continuing series of articles that will take a different perspective
on races, i.e. what happened that others might have overlooked.
Check back with AutoRacing1.com the week following every race for my
The series reaches it's halfway point with the return to Toronto. As we have seen a number of times this season there
was a Penske starting on the front row. This time with Castroneves showing the way. Surprising to some is de Matta occupying the outside of row 1.
I can't help but think that the Reynard-Toyota that de Matta pilots could have been this years Ganassi package. This is the second time in as many races that de Matta has
out qualified Montoya. While this is not groundbreaking it is worth noting. The silly season is lurking and I believe de Matta will be a hot commodity.
Unlike Cleveland and Portland, the grid managed to negotiate the first turn without difficulty.
Instead they waited until the end of Lake Shore while heading into turn
3 before getting tangled up. Castroneves, Andretti, and Franchitti got heavy on the brakes. Castroneves got sideways but managed to catch it and carry on. Andretti smokes his front tires. This is a look we have seen a lot from the Newman-Haas entries. I wonder if this is Newman-Haas breaking system or just a Lola function that they have been unable to remedy. Franchitti is the least fortunate of this trio. He gets sideways but he T-bones Montoya in the process effectively eliminating both from competition. Remember this is where Franchitti scored his first win of 1999 on route to a stellar second half of the season and a spirited battle for the championship. It's unfortunate that Dario has been unable to put together a string of good finishes this season. When will Team Green get back to form?
You have to give credit to de Matta for dominating this race the way he did. This is the first race he has led and he managed to hold off the charge of some very experienced and talented drivers. He held off Castroneves and managed to hold up Andretti. I would like to say that I was surprised to see Cal Wells meander to the Project Racing pit to try and get them to persuade their driver to let de Matta by. Backmarkers have been the great equalizer in the past and this is something that needs to be addressed.
However, I have to say that it did not look to me that de Matta was being held up by Garcia. De Matta was indeed faster and he should have just set up the pass and executed. It's not as if he was being held up at a Detroit or a Nazareth where passing zones are almost none existent.
I had to ask myself what Christian Fittipaldi was thinking when he was tailing de Ferran down pit road? This entire incident could have been avoided if Christian would have realized that de Ferran was making a stop. Hello, making a stop therefore necessitating the use of brakes. To me the replay shows an extremely inpatient Fittipaldi weaving behind de Ferran as if Gil was holding him up. And to no surprise Christian places the blame on de Ferran saying that he just got on the breaks real hard.
I was surprised at how badly many of the corners were carpeted by tire marbles. At the beginning of the season I anticipated that with
Firestone as the sole supplier, there would be less of a problem with marbles. Long Beach certainly showed promise of that. However, Detroit and here
in Toronto there were a considerable amount of build-up off the racing line.
Without the threat of competition, next year will probably see a more conservative construction from
Firestone and will greatly eliminate the problem with marbles.
1st: Michael Andretti furthers his reputation as the King of the streets of Toronto. This is his 6th win in Toronto and his 40th career victory. Overall, he had a great trip to Toronto. He qualified 4th during Friday's provisional qualifying and improved upon that with a 3rd place effort Saturday. Michael might prove to be a contender for this year's crown. Reliability both with the Ford and the Lola and patience will be key to the rest of the season.
2nd: Adrian Fernandez started today's race in 9th place and managed to steal some of his teammate's thunder. In fact, I was caught a bit off guard when I found Fernandez chasing Andretti in the final stages of the race. Consistency and some good racing luck will do Fernandez a lot of good. We won't soon forget that bizarre incident in Detroit.
Tracy. Cautiously I say that Tracy has escaped the black cloud that he has been under in recent races. Remember that Tracy posted some of his best finishes this season by starting outside the top-10. Tracy is indeed showing some patience but again, some good racing luck could do wonders for this team.
Paul Tracy for getting back to the early season basics. Patience and timing is key to winning championships. Just add some consistency to the mix and there is greatness waiting for Tracy.
Cristiano de Matta, he dominated the majority of this race but was unable to get back to the front after his second stop. I thought for sure that he was going to run away with it and take his maiden victory this weekend. Certainly, there is the potential to see
Cristiano on the top-step before the end of the season. The PPI team is in unfamiliar territory in their CART program and as they continue to run well the strategy will move to a front-running strategy. I think that
Cristiano's last stop was early but I wasn't privy to his fuel mileage. Obviously very disappointed during his interview with Jon
Beekhuis. Cristiano will be one to watch in the future.
The Players/Forsythe Team showed well during the race. Alex Tagliani showed good form by starting 19th and avoiding trouble and bringing home a 5th place finish. This was the first appearance in a
Champ Car in Canada for Tagliani. Patrick Carpentier started 15th and brought home a respectable 7th place finish.
ESPN for the AWESOME Toyota Spotlight featuring the split-screen comparing the driving styles of Montoya and Blundell. This offered significant insight into the differences between drivers. In particular the banzai, hang it out style of Montoya versus the more cautious and purposeful driving grace of Blundell. Interesting that the 2 drivers shift points were similar. This is significant because of the reports of a high-revving Toyota. Could it be that Toyota has tuned down the revs in hopes of greater reliability or is it that Ilmor is revving, but
drivability is still an issue? Hopefully ABC/ESPN will give us this look more as the season progresses.
Finally, we cannot help but be reminded of our fallen star Greg Moore. None of us will forget how quickly he came into our lives and just how quickly he was taken away. Indeed he lives on in our hearts and our memories. Godspeed friend.
Well we will see you
next week when the series runs at Michigan.
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