FITTIPALDI CAPTURES TEXACO/HAVOLINE 200 FOR FIRST CAREER FedEx CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES VICTORY
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (July 11, 1999) - Since arriving to the FedEx Championship Series in 1995, Newman/Haas Racing driver Christian Fittipaldi had seen some misfortune crop up as he continually chased his elusive first career Champ Car victory.
On Sunday at Road America before 75,000 spectators, Fittipaldi watched misfortune claim the only driver that stood between him and that first career triumph - rookie phenom Juan Montoya - and then he capitalized on the late-race situation by capturing the Texaco/Havoline 200.
Fittipaldi (Big Kmart Ford Swift), the nephew of Emerson Fittipaldi who was making his 71st start in the FedEx Championship Series, took the lead when Montoya (Target Honda Reynard) - the series points leader who had led 46 of the first 48 laps - encountered gearbox problems on Lap 49. Fittipaldi protected that lead for the final seven laps against Newman/Haas teammate Michael Andretti (Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Swift Ford) and went on to post a 1.060-second victory in the 55-lap event on the 4.048-mile permanent road course.
Fittipaldi, whose previous career-best finish was second at Indianapolis in 1995 and Detroit in '96, earned his first competitive victory since winning two races en route to his 1991 Formula 3000 championship. He also became the seventh different winner in 10 FedEx Championship Series races.
Montoya's mechanical problem left him pointless in an event for only the second time this season - he finished 13th - and allowed several others to join in the pursuit of his points lead. Montoya's lead over Andretti was trimmed to 113-95 and a mere 16 points separate Andretti from seventh-place Adrian Fernandez.
Andretti's runnerup effort, which moved him from fourth to second in the championship, was his fourth podium of the season and seventh finish among the top seven. It also marked the first time teammates finished 1-2 in FedEx Championship Series competition since Patrick Racing's Fernandez and Scott Pruett accomplished the feat, respectively, last season at Mid-Ohio.
Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford Reynard) overcame early contact with Andretti to finish third. It was his second podium of the season - the other was his victory at Japan - and sixth top-five performance. Closing out the top five were Greg Moore (Player's Forsythe Mercedes Reynard) and Max Papis (Miller Lite Ford Reynard), respectively.
The Texaco/Havoline 200 got off to an inauspicious start as two separate multi-car incidents in Turns 1 and 3 on the opening lap caused a red-flag condition. Due to the number of cars involved in the incident (6) and the amount of resources such as safety workers and wreckers it took to remedy the situation, CART officials opted to red flag the event and have a complete restart to the event. Under that condition, all cars involved in the incidents that were unable to continue were given the opportunity to restart the race in their backup cars. Three drivers - Papis, Helio Castro-Neves and rookie Memo Gidley - were forced to their backups. None of the six drivers involved in the incidents were injured.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, Big Kmart Ford Swift: "At the start of the race, Juan [Montoya] ran very, very strong. I was running third and said, 'It's going to be tough today if nothing happens to him.' But it was pretty tough out there for everybody. Before his [Montoya's] problem, I thought I was closing the gap on him, then something happened to him coming out of Turn 2. I was quicker than Michael under braking; Michael was quicker through the high-speed stuff. I'm very happy for the team, the sponsors and for my parents, who have given me great support through all my years in racing. Things have been going very strong for us this season. I was very confident during the warmup this morning. I went out and did two laps and felt like I was ready. We did one change to the car and we were competitive all day."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI, Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Swift: "It looked like Juan [Montoya] was having brake problems. He was locking them up like crazy. I think we were starting to reel him in. Neither Christian nor I was giving up. I think we both had the bit between our teeth and we were going for it. [Extending the race was] definitely better. Most of the time we ran the engine fairly rich, but Christian had a better strategy. He decided to lean his out a bit and that enabled him to make an extra lap on both stops. That's what enabled him to get by me. It probably won him the race. [Montoya] took advantage of some of our misfortunes earlier in the season. You never want to see it happen, but it's good to be able to take advantage of some of his."
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ, Tecate/Quaker State Labatt Ford Reynard: "Right from the beginning, the race was very fast. I had my own incident with Christian early on when we were coming out of two, I hit him pretty hard. But the car was working pretty well. It was a very good day for us. My guys did a tremendous job for us after a disappointing qualifying. I'm very happy to be back on the podium."
* The top three drivers in the FedEx Championship Series points race exited early Sunday, which helped to tighten the championship considerably. Series leader Juan Montoya (Target Honda Reynard) exited due to transmission problems and finished 13th, one place ahead of second-place Gil de Ferran (Valvoline/Cummins Special Honda Reynard), who encountered engine problems en route to a 14th-place finish. Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard), third entering Sunday, exited after 34 laps due to turbocharger problems and finished 18th. While the frontrunners struggled, the group of drivers immediately behind them prospered. Michael Andretti's (Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Swift) runner-up finish moved him into second in the championship with 95 points. De Ferran is third with 87 points, Franchitti fourth with 85 and Christian Fittipaldi (Big Kmart Ford Swift), Sunday's winner, is fifth with 82. Greg Moore (Player's/Indeck Mercedes Reynard), who finished fourth Sunday, and Adrian Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford Reynard), who finished third, stand sixth and seventh, respectively, in the championship, with 81 and 79 points.
* Fittipaldi's victory Sunday made him the third driver in the past five years to claim his first career FedEx Championship Series victory at Road America. Jacques Villeneuve scored his first career triumph in 1995 and Franchitti continued the run of first-time winners last year.
* Fittipaldi became the seventh different winner in 10 FedEx Championship Series events this season as well as the fifth in the last five. The roster of winners, in addition to Fittipaldi, includes Moore at Homestead; Fernandez at Japan; Montoya at Long Beach, Nazareth, Rio de Janeiro and Cleveland; Andretti at Gateway; Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard) at Milwaukee and de Ferran at Portland.
* Ford's sweep of the podium was its first since last year at Mid-Ohio when Fernandez, Scott Pruett and Bobby Rahal finished first through third, respectively. Fernandez and Pruett combined to finish one-two for Patrick Racing, the last time teammates had finished first and second in a FedEx Championship Series event prior to Fittipaldi and Andretti turning the trick for Newman/Haas Racing on Sunday.
* Fittipaldi's victory helped Brazil maintain its lead in the Nation's Cup over the four-time defending champion United States. Brazil, which held a 132-117 lead over the U.S. entering the event, now owns a 152-134 advantage over the U.S. Canada is third at 123.
* Fittipaldi became the seventh different driver in the last four years to win a race while on probation. He was placed on probation on June 18 by CART Chief Steward Wally Dallenbach for blocking infractions during the June 6 event at Milwaukee. The list of drivers who have won events while on probation includes Michael Andretti in 1996; Tracy in '97; Moore, Bryan Herta and Alex Zanardi in '98; and Montoya this year. Dallenbach announced that Fittipaldi was being removed from probation following Sunday's victory.
* Montoya led 46 of the first 48 laps Sunday, bringing him into a tie with Zanardi for the CART record for laps led during a rookie seasoin. Zanardi, who set the mark in 1996, and Montoya are tied with 610 laps led. Both are tied with Mario Andretti (1987) for seventh place on the CART single-season laps led list.
* Neither Montoya nor Target/Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Jimmy Vasser (Target Honda Reynard) finished Sunday's race. It marked the first time neither Target/Ganassi car had finished a FedEx Championship Series event since 1995 at Toronto when Vasser exited after completing 85 of 98 laps due to exhaust problems and Herta exited on the opening lap due to contact.
* Max Papis (Miller Lite Ford Reynard) finished a strong fifth after being forced into his secondary car when his primary car was damaged beyond repair due to contact. The effort marked his fourth top-five finish of the campaign, including a career-best fourth at Rio de Janeiro and fifth at Homestead and Gateway.
* Michel Jourdain Jr. (Herdez/Viva Mexico! Ford Lola) finished a career-best eighth in his 51st start in the FedEx Championship Series. His previous career-best finish of 10th came at Vancouver last year.
* Moore led two laps en route to his fourth-place finish Sunday, marking the first laps he has led in a FedEx Championship Series road or street course event since leading six laps at Road America last year.
* The red-flag condition at the start of the Texaco/Havoline 200 necessitated the first restart of the FedEx Championship Series event that allowed drivers involved in the incidents into their secondary cars since The Inaugural U.S. 500 at Michigan Speedway in 1996.
WHAT'S ON TAP
The Texaco/Havoline 200 will receive an encore performance 3 p.m. ET Monday on ESPN.
The FedEx Championship Series continues a run of six events in seven weeks with the Molson Indy on Sunday, July 18 from Exhibition Place in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
FedEx Championship Series Race No. 10 Texaco / Havoline 200 Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin Box Score Report July 11, 1999 Results courtesy of OMEGA Timing
Rank Start Car Driver / Residence Pos. Num Sponsor / Car Qual. Qual. Laps Behind Race Tot Sea Time Speed Compl. Status Leader Pts. Pts Rnk 1 4 11 Christian Fittipaldi/ Key Biscayne, Florida Big Kmart Ford-Cosworth Swift/Ford Cos SW F
100.716 144.692 55 137.697 mph 20 82 5 2 1 6 Michael Andretti/ Nazareth, Pennsylvania Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford-Cosw/Ford Cos SW F
100.206 145.428 55 RUNNING (M) 1.060 17 95 2 3 5 40 Adrian Fernandez/ Paradise Valley, Arizona Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Rac/Ford Cos RI F
100.883 144.452 55 RUNNING 17.427 14 79 7 4 8 99 Greg Moore/ Maple Ridge, British Columbia Player's/Indeck/Mercedes RI F 101.053 144.209 55 RUNNING 19.397 12 81 6 5 14 7 Max Papis/ Miami Beach, Florida Miller Lite/Ford Cos RI F 101.904 143.005 55 RUNNING 34.493 10 51 9 6 10 44 Tony Kanaan/ Miami, Florida McDonald's Championship Racing/Honda RI F
101.632 143.388 55 RUNNING 58.434 8 34 11 7 18 19 Michel Jourdain Jr./ Mexico City, Mexico The Herdez/Viva Mexico! Car/Ford Cos LT F
102.317 142.428 54 RUNNING -1 Lap 6 6 22 8 23 22 Robby Gordon/ Orange, California Johns Manville/Panasonic/Menard/Toyota SW F
103.653 140.592 54 RUNNING -1 Lap 5 14 20 9 19 2 Al Unser Jr./ Albuquerque, New Mexico 99 Marlboro Mercedes Lola/Mercedes LT G 102.583 142.059 54 RUNNING -1 Lap 4 16 18 10 24 10 Richie Hearn/ Henderson, Nevada Budweiser/Toyota RI F 103.878 140.288 54 RUNNING -1 Lap 3 11 21 11 9 26 Paul Tracy/ Las Vegas, Nevada KOOL/Honda RI F 101.298 143.861 54 RUNNING -1 Lap 2 60 8 12 13 17 Mauricio Gugelmin/ Coral Gables, Florida Hollywood PacWest Mercedes-Benz/Mercedes RI F
101.824 143.118 54 RUNNING -1 Lap 1 14 19 13 2 4 Juan Montoya/(R) Bogota, Colombia Target Honda/Honda RI F 100.345 145.227 49 TRANSMISSION -6 Laps 1 113 1 14 3 5 Gil de Ferran/ Fort Lauderdale, Florida Valvoline/Cummins Special/Honda RI G 100.557 144.921 41 ENGINE -14 Laps 0 87 3 15 12 8 Bryan Herta/ Valencia, California Shell/Ford Cos RI F 101.657 143.353 41 SUSPENSION -14 Laps 0 31 12 16 20 9 Helio Castro-Neves/ Sao Paulo, Brazil Hogan Motor Leasing, Inc/Mercedes LT F 102.749 141.829 38 TRANSMISSION -17 Laps 0 21 16 17 21 20 PJ Jones/ Scottsdale, Arizona Visteon Patrick Racing/Ford Cos SW F 102.802 141.756 36 CONTACT -19 Laps 0 28 13 18 7 27 Dario Franchitti/ Pompano Beach, Florida KOOL/Honda RI F 100.958 144.345 34 TURBO -21 Laps 0 85 4 19 16 18 Roberto Moreno/ Brasilia, Brazil Motorola PacWest Mercedes-Benz/Mercedes RI F
102.234 142.544 31 ENGINE -24 Laps 0 26 15 20 25 36 Gualter Salles/ Miami, Florida AAR Denso/Castrol Toyota Eagle/Toyota EA G
104.563 139.369 31 ENGINE -24 Laps 0 0 28 21 11 25 Cristiano da Matta/(R) Miami, Florida MCI WorldCom Toyota Reynard/Toyota RI F
101.654 143.357 19 TRANSMISSION -36 Laps 0 16 17 22 17 33 Patrick Carpentier/ Indianapolis, Indiana Player's/Indeck/Mercedes RI F 102.262 142.505 17 LOST POWER -38 Laps 0 28 14 23 6 12 Jimmy Vasser/ Las Vegas, Nevada Target Honda/Honda RI F 100.943 144.367 15 OFF COURSE -40 Laps 0 34 10 24 26 71 Luiz Garcia Jr./(R) Brasilia, Brazil The Tang Car/Ford Cos RI F 106.207 137.211 13 OFF COURSE -42 Laps 0 0 29 25 22 24 Scott Pruett/ Lake Tahoe, Nevada Pioneer/MCI WorldCom Toyota Rey/Toyota RI F
103.009 141.471 6 ENGINE -49 Laps 0 3 26 26 15 15 Memo Gidley/(R) San Rafael, California Alpine Special/Honda RI G 101.976 142.904 3 ENGINE -52 Laps 0 2 27 Did not start legend: DNG=Did not grid, DNS=Did not start, DNQ=Did not qualify (R) = Rookie Driver (M) = Marlboro Pole Award ($10,000) Race Information Track Length: 4.048 Miles Laps: 55 (Road) Time of Race: 1:37:00.799 Average Speed: 137.697 mph Margin of Victory: 1.060 sec Caution Flags: From To Total Reason Lap Lap Laps Lap Leaders: 4 Lead Changes, 3 Drivers Car Driver From To Total Lap Lap Laps 4 Juan Montoya 1 31 31 99 Greg Moore 32 33 2 4 Juan Montoya 34 48 15 11 Christian Fittipaldi 49 55 7 Total Lead Laps Driver Total Laps Juan Montoya 46 Greg Moore 2 Christian Fittipaldi 7 Chassis Legend: PC=Penske, RI=Reynard, SW=Swift, LT=Lola, EA=Eagle Engine Legend: Ford Cos=99 Ford Cosworth, Honda=Honda Turbo V8, Mercedes=Mercedes-Benz E3, Toyota =Toyota Tire Legend: F=Firestone Firehawk, G=Goodyear Eagle (R): Designates the driver is a series rookie Subject to compliance of CART Rules and Regulations as stated in the 1998 Rule Book. Track Length: 4.048 miles Track Type: Road Lap Record: August 15, 1998 Michael Andretti 99.988 seconds 145.745 mph Race Record: July 11, 1999 Christian Fittipaldi 1:37:00.799 137.697 mph Page created: July 11 1999 16:39:48 (C) 1999 Swiss Timing Ltd. - All rights reserved