Franchitti to 1-2 Team Kool Green finish at the Molson Indy
Autocourse CART Yearbook 1999-2000
Our Price: $24.47
You Save:$10.48 (30%)
Go to our forums to discuss this article
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- One slip by teammate Dario Franchitti was all the help Paul Tracy needed to win today's Molson Indy Vancouver before a very enthusiastic crowd of 63,677, about 3,000 more than last year.
Shinji Nakano crashed on lap 50, bringing out a caution flag. The leaders pitted on lap 52 and the deciding moment came when the top two Team Green teammates -- Franchitti and Tracy -- both went to pit lane. As Franchitti was trying to leave the pits, he stalled his car, allowing Tracy to beat him onto the track for the lead.
Before that, Franchitti started from the pole and dominated the race, turning 13 of the races 15 fastest laps. Once he was behind Tracy, however, team owner Barry Green dictated that with Tracy battling for the CART championship, he wanted Tracy to win with Franchitti holding second place.
The drivers held true to form and Tracy was able to win in the hometown of former CART driver Greg Moore, who was killed in a crash at California Speedway last October 31st. The duo built a lead of 19.031 seconds over 3rd place finisher Adrian Fernandez, followed by Christian Fittipaldi and Gil de Ferran.
With the third-place result, Fernandez recorded his eighth consecutive points paying finish dating back to the race in Cleveland. Fernandez was also the recipient of the "Budweiser Hard Charger Award," presented to the driver who makes the greatest improvement in track position from the beginning to the end of the race. Fernandez began the race in the eighth row after a fifteenth place qualifying run, and worked his way through the field en route to a third place finish. Paul Tracy claimed his second consecutive victory (Road America), while teammate Dario Franchitti finished second.
Tracy became the first three-time winner on the CART circuit this season. He also is the first Canadian to win the Molson Indy Vancouver. Tracy had previously won the Molson Indy Toronto race.
"I'm Paul Tracy and I am Canadian," a jubilant Tracy said after spinning his tires and leaving several doughnuts on the course.
Tracy climbed from fifth to second in the PPG Cup standings, trimming Michael Andretti's lead to six points.
The first yellow flag came out on the fourth lap, when teammates Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani tangled while running side-by-side. Carpentier crashed into the tire barrier, taking Mark Blundell's car with him. Tagliani was able to continue, but an angry Carpentier shook his fist at his teammate as he drove by under yellow.
With one lap to go until the restart, Kenny Brack's car stalled on the front straight. He was able to get restarted after a CART safety vehicle towed it and stayed on the lead lap.
The green flag waved on the 10th lap, with Franchitti ahead of Tracy, de Ferran, Helio Castroneves and Juan Montoya. Further back in the top 10, Oriol Servia passed Roberto Moreno in the first turn.
Two laps later, another caution flag waved when Michel Jourdain crashed while trying to pass Tony Kanaan.
"I thought Tony was on the outside and I saw Oriol had a problem," Jourdain said. "I thought we were both going to go, but he braked too hard. It's a shame, this is the best car we had out there. We'll get them next time."
The green flag waved three laps later with Franchitti still in front of Tracy, de Ferran, Castroneves and Montoya.
Tagliani's car rammed into a tire barrier on lap 17 to bring out another caution flag. The race restarted on lap 20.
Franchitti was 6.42 seconds ahead of Tracy on the 38th lap, but he had to brake heavily to avoid collision after trying to pass Alex Barron. It did not matter, however, because Franchitti was able to lengthen his lead to 7.017 seconds on the following lap.
Franchitti pitted for the first time on lap 40. His crew serviced the car and got him out in 13 seconds. Castroneves was the next of the leaders to pit. Tracy followed him one lap later.
After the pit stop sequence played out, Franchitti was leading Tracy and Memo Gidley.
Castroneves' bid at victory came to a crashing halt when the front suspension collapsed, sending the car into a wild spin into the exit lane and into a tire barrier. Bad news continued for Marlboro Team Penske when de Ferran was black-flagged for a pit road infraction.
"I have no idea what happened, I braked and it broke," Castroneves said. "I was having so much fun, but sometimes you don't have the best luck."
When the decisive pit stop sequence occurred for Franchitti and Tracy, Tagliani crashed twice while under caution before the green flag waved to restart the race on lap 59. Before the lap was completed, however, Andretti lost control of his car while running eighth, sending it into a slide. He kept the car off the wall and was able to continue.
Montoya was caught out of the pits when his team wanted him to make a pit stop, so he had to stay on the track. He finally ran out of fuel while running third on lap 68. To make matters worse, Montoya was supposed to pit at the end of the lap.
The caution flag waved so the safety crew could retrieve Montoya's car on lap 69. It was the 10th time Montoya failed to finish a race this season.
The green flag flew on lap 71 with Franchitti moving in on Tracy's car for the lead. It stayed that way for the final 19 laps.
Tony Kanaan and the #55 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Mercedes-Benz Reynard finished where they started, taking 14th place in today’s Molson Indy Vancouver, but not before having to recover from an early-race incident that set them back several spots in the order. By Lap 11, Kanaan had worked his way up to 12th from his 14th starting position when he was hit hard from behind by Michel Jourdain in a Turn 1 incident that knocked Jourdain out of the race. Kanaan proceeded from there, but the rear suspension gave way some three laps later due to the impact. Kanaan pitted, and the crew discovered a broken rear toe link. The repair cost four laps in the pits before Kanaan resumed in 20th place. He worked his way up to 14th and finished five laps off the pace of race winner Paul Tracy, who won for the third time this year and for the second race in a row. Kanaan recorded the fifth-fastest race lap enroute to his finish.
PacWest Racing drivers Mauricio Gugelmin and Mark Blundell where early casualties in today’s Molson Indy of Vancouver after involvement in accidents of “other drivers”. Mark Blundell, driver of the #18 Motorola PacWest Mercedes-Benz, was caught up in the accident of “someone else” when he came around turn 10 and was left with nowhere else to go except into the side of the stationary car of Canadian Patrick Carpentier. The accident damaged the right front suspension and Blundell’s day was done after just three laps. Only 11 laps later, Brazilian Tarso Marques received a puncture to his right rear tire, lost control of his car and drove into the side of Gugelmin, driver of the #17 Nextel PacWest Mercedes-Benz. It was that kind of day.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
PAUL TRACY, #26 TEAM KOOL GREEN HONDA/REYNARD: (Started 2nd / Finished 1st ; 2nd in the standings with 120 points) “Dario was definitely quick at the beginning of the race and we were having a hard time staying with him. I was catching him in the second stint and then he stalled on the stop and that gave me the opportunity to take the lead. I’ve got to thank Team KOOL Green, Honda, Firestone and everybody else involved in the effort. I’m re-signed for the next five years, Dario’s on for next year, so we’re looking forward to the future. We (Paul and Dario) were going to fight in the beginning and however we ended up after the last pit stop, that’s how we were going to run. He was pressuring me so I was just asking, ‘Hey, is this what the deal is?’ Barry came on the radio and told me we had a deal and not to worry about Dario. I really like our chances for the championship. The rest of the tracks on the schedule are ones I really like and I’ve been successful at. I’ve won at four of the remaining five tracks. We’re not taking anything for granted, but the confidence level at Team KOOL Green is sky high.” "It was a fantastic day for everybody on Team KOOL Green. I don't know if I had the outright speed to beat Dario, but I stayed close to him and when he had a problem in the pits I was able to get into the lead. I was happy, but at the same time I was disappointed for Dario because he really was the measure of us today. I'm not emotional sad, but emotional happy. It was a great, festival atmosphere all week here and I'm glad to get a win here. I think Dario and I are going to have quite a celebration tonight. We've got to look at it as a team effort. To win races at this stage, you've got to have everything go right, no mistakes. At the end, I think I could've probably pushed harder if I had to, but I didn't need to do that. I think to win the championship, and to beat people like Michael Andretti, you're going to have to win. You're going to have to take the bull by the horns and get after it. You're not going to be able to just cruise around and collect points. Now that we've gotten back in the championship, we're not going to change the way we're doing things."
DARIO FRANCHITTI, #27 TEAM KOOL GREEN HONDA/REYNARD: (Started 1st / Finished 2nd ; 11th in the standings with 78 points) “It’s great to be on the podium but I really wanted to win today. Team KOOL Green gave me a great car and we could have won this one.” On team orders: “We agreed that we’d fight it out until the last pit stop, then whoever was ahead would stay there. When Paul came out ahead of me after the last stop, I might have been quick enough to pass, but team orders are team orders. We agreed to them before the start and we stuck to it. But it’s a great day for Team KOOL Green. I’m really happy for Paul to win here in front of all his fans and I know it really helps him in the championship. But again, I’m disappointed not to have won.” On the car stalling on his last pit stop: ”We just got bogged down trying to leave the pit and it stalled. We’ll have to sit down and take a look at what happened.” "It really was a strong effort from the team all weekend. We were on the pole on Friday, on the pole on Saturday, and we were second-fastest in the warmup this morning. Things were looking good until I came into the pits and I stalled it. We have an agreement in the team that whoever is leading, it's his race unless you're getting pressure from behind, and that wasn't the case today. I was playing with Paul a little bit, and I think he was getting a little heated for a little bit, but he knew that I wasn't allowed to pass him. I'm a little disappointed because I really wanted to win this one today, but it's better to have a 1-2 finish for Team KOOL Green than to have another Chicago incident. The atmosphere on the parade lap was unbelievable. People were going crazy, and I'm not even from here. They really went crazy when Paul came around. I think it was an appropriate tribute to Greg [Moore]. It was a party atmosphere, and let's face it, Greg was a party guy. I'm going to take Mr. Tracy out tonight and show him a party."
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (#40 Tecate/Quaker State Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 3rd - "Fantastic. I'm very happy for the guys because we didn't have the car all weekend and were struggling to get some grip at the back of the car. Today we did the same things we always do - just be patient, let things settle and just wait to see. The car started to develop and when we needed to push we pushed. At the beginning Michel Jourdain, Jr. was very strong and I just managed to stay there, but we managed to pit during the second yellow flag early in the race and that was key for us. Then John Ward made a key decision when that last yellow came. We pitted there and then we got up to position and that was just fantastic because from there on we managed to stay there with (Cristiano) da Matta. We knew he had to pit so it was just a matter of staying cool and not making any mistakes, which was difficult today. Conditions were very cool, it was hard to bring the tires up to temperature, and we just managed to keep the car on the track and that was pretty difficult. So just to finish was fantastic without hitting anything (laughter). Well I hit somebody. I have to apologize to (Alex) Tagliani. I was running with him and I came into turn one and I just went a little bit too deep - I couldn't stop, and he came into his line like he should've done and unfortunately I hit him. After that it was just a good race for us." WITH FIVE RACES TO GO YOU STILL HAVE A SHOT AT THE CHAMPIONSHIP. HOW DOES THAT MAKE YOU FEEL? - "Very excited. We've been very consistent. It doesn't matter if we're - people will say 'You're 15th and you're fighting for the championship. What's happening?' We're not panicking. We've done that many times before and we know we can do it. It's just consistency. A lot of things can happen in a two hour race like this, especially in conditions like this, so the main thing in this type of racing is that you have to be patient. Sometimes people don'' have the patience, and that's what we managed to achieve in the last few races - patience, be fast and have good (pit) stops and strategy. It's the whole thing. You cannot say it's me, you cannot say it's John Ward, it's just the whole organization. The team is working fantastic and we've been able to make the right calls, the preparation of the car is fantastic. We changed a turbo after the warm up this morning. We were lagging some speed on the main straight and they saw we were having some problem with the turbo, so they changed it and we didn't have any problem after that, so it was fantastic. I think what it will take is to just keep scoring - finish in the top five from now on and hopefully another one or two wins and we're going to be close. Paul (Tracy) is on a roll, but hopefully we'll score some wins in the next five races."
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI (#11 Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 4th - Fittipaldi scored his second highest finish at Vancouver of fourth place. His highest finish here is third place in 1996. "It wasn't the finish we were hoping for but I can't complain. We thought we could be on the podium here but we will certainly take it considering the season we have had so far. We have been competitive enough to win this season but haven't been able to do it for one reason or another. It was a pretty good finish though considering we didn't have the speed to catch up to da Matta or the rest. Team Green and the Penske's will be tough at Laguna but we will try our best to be ahead of them at the end of the race."
MAX PAPIS (#7 Miller Lite Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 8th - KIND OF A WEIRD RACE OUT THERE. "I still have to understand what happened. It was a strange race. We had a lot of wheelspin in the car and we still have to figure out how some of those guys in front magically don't have it." HOW DID YOU TEST AT LAGUNA SECA AND WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS HEADING THERE NEXT WEEK? - "Laguna is a track that suited us pretty well. We were always pretty fast, but our goal is to get on the podium (and) hopefully we can do it. But today we thought as well we could get on the podium, but we didn't have it."
KENNY BRACK (#8 Shell Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 9th - WHAT HAPPENED WITH YOU AND JIMMY VASSER? - "There's nothing to talk about. I don't know what happened. I think he misjudged the situation slightly and drove into my rear wheel and that was it basically. I haven't reviewed any tapes but I know he hit me." WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS HEADING TO LAGUNA SECA? - "We tested there a couple of weeks ago and some work to do when we finished that test. We weren't really that fast, but we know at least what not to do, so that's good. We'll see when we get back there next weekend."
Oriol Servià, #96 Telefónica Toyota-Reynard "We struggled a bit with the brakes today. After my pit stop, I was stuck behind Nakano and the only place to pass was in turn five, but they had a local yellow flag there for what seemed to be at least ten laps. The car that was there was off course, but it already been moved to a safe place, yet the flag continued. I do not know why the flag was there the whole time, but I could not pass with the flag out, that was very unfortunate. I lost a lot of time there. I am happy to have picked up a couple of points today, and I am relieved to be out of 16th position in the point standings (Servià is now ranked 15th)."
Cristiano da Matta, #97 Pioneer Electronics/WorldCom/Toyota-Reynard "I think the ioneer/WorldCom team did a very good job for me today. My pit stops were perfect, I am very proud of them. It is a huge disappointment we were not able to stay out and collect third position, those would have been precious points. However, we were extremely competitive today, and my car was very fast. The past couple of weeks have been tough on all of us, so it was good to be back in the top five again and fighting for the podium. We do have to work on fuel mileage. It seems a few teams are consistently getting better mileage then the rest of us, so that is something we must improve. I look forward to getting to Laguna and fighting for the front again."
ROBERTO MORENO (#20 Visteon Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 10th - TELL ME ABOUT YOUR RACE. "It was okay. Our team played two different strategies - it paid off for Adrian (Fernandez); it didn't for me. It's one of those things that happens. It's the first time it was a bad strategy all year, so I can't complain about anything and the guys did a great job. We started with a car with a big change on the weekend and we made it work for the race. Adrian followed that up and also made it work for him. It's just the strategy he used was much better and it paid off in the end. When you're there trying to make a decision, it's not that clear yet until you see the things at the end." YOU WORKED ON A LOT OF THINGS IN THE TEST AT LAGUNA SECA. DO YOU THINK YOU LEARNED SOME THINGS THAT GIVE YOU AN ADVANTAGE? - "The test there was good for us to discover this new thing we did on the car which made it work here. Although we weren't fast in the test there, we discovered this and made the car work better, so I'm sure we'll go back there and have a better knowledge of the car."
ALEX BARON (#19 Sports Today Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 13th - ARE YOU PLEASED WITH YOUR PERFORMANCE TODAY? "I think the main agenda for us was just to finish today. I mean I wish we could've finished a little higher, but the way the weekend started out - we had a bit of a problem and didn't even qualify in the second session. We'll take what we can get and take what we learned this weekend and apply it to next weekend. We're pretty far behind on development and we've got to catch up pretty quick so we've got to get to work for Laguna." IS LAGUNA SECA A PLACE YOU FEEL CONFIDANT GOING TO? "Yeah, I've been to the circuit quite a few times, but we need to change the car quite a bit before we go there."
ALEX TAGLIANI (#33 Player's Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 18th - "Unfortunately Pat (Carpentier) touched the wall in turn nine and he got sideways and I was already into the chicane and was in between the tires and his tires, so I was not about to accelerate or slow down - I was there, and it's not a corner where you can go into side-by-side. After that (Adrian) Fernandez pushed me into the tires and we broke a direction I think, or the alignment of the car was wrong, and it was just too bad because after that we were not competitive at all." “Patrick managed to straighten the car, but by then, I was already committed to going inside,” said Tagliani. “Suddenly, I was in his sidepod and there was nowhere for me to go, because that isn’t a corner where you can have two cars side by side. We’re all racing for the same thing out there, and when I saw Pat’s car touch the wall, I saw an opportunity to move up a position. What happened was an unfortunate incident and I’m going to discuss it with Patrick and explain my side.”
TARSO MARQUES (#34 Panasonic Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 22nd - WHAT HAPPENED OUT THERE ON THE TRACK? "The car was handling better during the weekend and we gained some positions during the yellows, but we were quite competitive. I had a few cars in front of me, but unfortunately under braking the rear tire exploded and I couldn't even turn the car. It's a shame because the car was better than we were expecting." HAVE YOU MADE ANY GAINS WITH THE SWIFT CHASSIS? "This was the hardest track for us - we couldn't find any good handling at all. We tried a completely different set up for the race and it was showing to be a little better, but it was still very early."
TONY KANAAN “That really takes the wind out of your sails when you lose laps early in the race like that, especially when it’s not your fault. I was on the outside of Memo (Gidley) going into Turn 1 and I saw all kinds of stuff happening behind me. I think Jourdain thought he could brake deeper than he could because he slammed into me really hard. He pushed me forward 200 feet and I almost didn’t make the turn. But I got past the tire barrier and was hoping the car was alright. It was for a few laps. But then I felt the rear end give way. I was hoping it was only a flat tire. But it was much more than that. It’s really unfortunate because the crew really had the car balanced well for me for the race after we struggled all day in qualifying yesterday. But we turned good laps, and managed to finish where we started. Our luck is bound to change soon. We go to Laguna next week, and that’s definitely one of those tracks I have had great success on in the past. We deserve to turn our luck around, don’t we?”
MAURICIO GUGELMIN - # 17 NEXTEL PACWEST MERCEDES-BENZ – 21st “(Tarso) Marques was way behind me and when we went around turn four he punctured is right-rear tire and locked up his brakes,” said Gugelmin, who won in Vancouver in 1997. “The rear of Marques’ car dropped and he slid right into me. It was not his fault, but I just had nowhere to go. “Vancouver has not been good for me this year, but we will definitely be back.”
MARK BLUNDELL - # 18 MOTOROLA PACWEST MERCEDES-BENZ – 25th “We have had a monkey on our back all year, but I think it has now turned into a gorilla,” said Blundell “I had committed myself to the corner and had gone a little wide because I had no grip. “I got around the corner and Patrick’s (Carpentier) car was just sitting there and I had nowhere to go. My Motorola crew has worked tirelessly all season and it has to turn around for us. Unfortunately we are running out of races.”
MEMO GIDLEY - "I've always said, if I had the choice of racing for one year and winning one race, or finishing fifth and racing for 15 years, I'd take the one year and the victory. That's how important winning is to me. Yeah, we finished sixth at Road America last race, but we had a lot of cars drop out. Here in Vancouver, we were fast all day, and we were passing people all day. Even though we did not finish, it was still our best weekend yet." "After qualifying 21st, we had to try something different for the race setup. I didn't really know how those changes would pan out until the green flag waved, but right away I was passing people. I first thought maybe I was just being more aggressive with the cold tires than other drivers, but when the tires warmed up and the track came in, the car was still fast. At the end there we were reeling in Vasser and de Ferran, and we were so fast I thought we were going to get around them. So we learned a lot about setting up the car, and hopefully we can use that information in the races to come."
· Pre-race ceremonies paid tribute to the memory of Greg Moore, a Champ Car driver who lost his life in a racing accident at the 1999 season finale. With hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, Dayton Indy Lights series president Roger Bailey, and Greg's family participating, interim CART President and CEO Bobby Rahal announced that Moore's car No. 99 was being retired from Champ Car, Indy Lights and Toyota Atlantic competition. Moore, a native of Maple Ridge, B.C., near Vancouver, earned five victories and five pole positions during his four-year Champ Car career and finished among the top-10 drivers in each of his FedEx Championship Series seasons. He is also the career leader in Indy Lights victories with 13. Car No. 99 joins the No. 14 of all-time Champ Car victory leader A.J. Foyt as the only retired numbers in Champ Car history.
· Michael Andretti (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola) moved into sole possession of second place for CART career starts by making his 265th Sunday, which broke a tie with former three-time series champion Bobby Rahal. Other starts of note made Sunday were by Jimmy Vasser (Target Toyota Lola), who tied Arie Luyendyk for 12th place by making his 142nd, and Adrian Fernandez, who tied Roberto Guerrero for 16th place by making his 120th.
1. Paul Tracy (26), Honda/Reynard, 90 laps, running
Go to our forums to discuss this article
is an independent internet online publication and is not affiliated with,
sponsored by, or endorsed by CART Inc., NASCAR, FIA, FedEx, Winston,
or any other series sponsor. This material may not be published, broadcast,
or redistributed without permission.
Copyright 1999 - 2000, AutoRacing1, Hamilton, NJ