David Reininger - motorsport.com Cicero, IL (August 22, 1999) - Juan Montoya took his sixth win of the season in the CART FedEx Championship series, breaking a record for wins by a rookie set by Nigel Mansell in 1993. Montoya came into the ...
David Reininger - motorsport.com
Cicero, IL (August 22, 1999) - Juan Montoya took his sixth win of the season in the CART FedEx Championship series, breaking a record for wins by a rookie set by Nigel Mansell in 1993. Montoya came into the Target Grand Prix of Chicago trailing Dario Frenchitti in the championship by one point. With five races left in the season, Montoya now leads the championship by four points.
Montoya struggled throughout the weekend, finding his race day setup in this morning's warm up session. "All weekend was really bad," said Montoya. "We couldn't get the car working the way we wanted it. Last night we stayed here until pretty late with Morris (Nunn) and all my guys trying to figure out what was going on with the car. I think Morris made the right changes and the car was quick this morning. I was pretty pleased with the car."
"I went out in the (morning) warm up and I had a little bit of understeer but it was a lot less than previously. I came in to the pits and I was P-1. I lapped just under half a second slower than qualifying. I wasn't really a contender until this morning."
After three attempts to get the race underway due to the misalignment of the field, Montoya gained two positions on the first green lap. On the very next lap Montoya picked up three more positions for sixth position. "When the race started, initially I was a bit aggressive. I moved quite quickly until I was behind Castro-Neves. Then I settle for a bit. After I went by Castro-Neves, Jimmy (Vasser) let me by. The car was just flying and that was it!"
Dario Franchitti finished second, his fourth podium finish in the last five races. Franchitti stayed close to Montoya throughout the race, closing the gap to two-tenths of a second late in the race. Despite slight handling problems, Franchitti finished less than a second behind Montoya at the checkered flag.
"I was fighting an oversteer going into the corner on the brakes," said Franchitti. "There was a little understeering through the middle and an oversteer on exit. I could see he (Montoya) was oversteering coming out, leaving nice black lines on occasion. I was just trying to get as close as I could to him into the corner to get a run on him on exit. I was just waiting for one small mistake in traffic, just one guy to hold him up in the wrong place, and pounce on him."
While Franchitti waited for an opportunity to capture the lead, Roberto Moreno, decided he'd have a go at gaining his lap back with only ten laps remaining in the race.
"Moreno came up, who pitted out of sequence, he came steaming down the inside and got between us," said Franchitti. "He spoiled my race but I think Juan was pretty happy with it. It certainly spoiled the end of my race. On shear speed it wouldn't have been easy to get by. But certainly in traffic, on these tracks, you just wait for one mistake and that's all that it takes."
"I was just waiting for that one mistake, for somebody to block him in the wrong place, or lift off in the middle of a corner in traffic, to hold Juan up. I'd be able to get a slingshot and get past."
Jimmy Vasser made a visit to the podium for the first time this season, bringing his Target Team Ganassi Reynard home in third place, 15 seconds behind Montoya. "It was a pretty good race," Vasser said. "After we got going a little bit, the car wasn't as good as I thought it was going to be. It was fair but we were fighting a too neutral balance, especially in traffic. We made some adjustments at the pit stop and we weren't running so bad."
"I though we were running pretty well until the last stop, and then I got stuck behind Robby Gordon for 70-some laps."
For an inaugural race, the Chicago Motor Speedway shined despite some minor glitches in logistics. Fears that the narrow turns would not provide the room for passing were unjustified as the cars ran three wide on the first lap. Passing was plentiful throughout the field with action all around the Speedway. Everyone agreed, fans and drivers alike, this race will only get better with time.