CHAMPCAR/CART: Fontana: Lola race report

Vasser earns Lola's 15th 2002 victory. Leads Andretti to checkers in thrilling duel. Jimmy Vasser became the first CART driver to earn two wins at California Speedway, winning in 1998 and repeating today in The 500 Presented by Toyota. His ...

Vasser earns Lola's 15th 2002 victory.
Leads Andretti to checkers in thrilling duel.

Jimmy Vasser became the first CART driver to earn two wins at California Speedway, winning in 1998 and repeating today in The 500 Presented by Toyota. His .400-second victory in the #8 Shell Lola/Ford over the #39 Motorola Lola/Honda of Michael Andretti capped a great weekend for the American veteran, whose team won the 4th annual Craftsman Pit Stop Challenge on Friday evening. Patrick Carpentier was third in the #32 Team Player's Reynard/Ford. This was the fastest CART race ever run, with an average speed of 197.995mph, besting Al Unser Jr.'s 1990 mark at Michigan International Speedway of 189.727mph. Vasser led 148 of the 250 laps contested and there were 42 official lead swaps at the stripe.

"We've been trying hard all year and the guys have always worked hard. We always come to win and it's frustrating when we don't," Vasser admitted. "We went for a lower amount of downforce on our Lola than others and the car felt good all day. We stuck to our strategy and we had great pit stops all day long." Andretti believed CART's "wing package made racing better and the new pit window rule really worked today (the window was 33 laps). I just couldn't get close enough to get past," he explained. Andretti led 37 laps.

Three yellow flags and one red flag slowed the race, the latter called for Dario Franchitti's car fire. The rush to the checkers was a two-lap affair, with Vasser passing Andretti at the green and holding on for the win. Fourth place went to polesitter Tony Kanaan's #10 Pioneer/WorldCom Lola/Honda, who ran at or near the front all afternoon. During the short red he told his crew, "I'm going to go for it," but he was satisfied with 4th place. Cristiano da Matta, who led 14 laps and hounded the leaders all day in the #1 Chevron Lola/Toyota, was unable to complete the distance after his Toyota engine "just lost power." He was second before leaving competition.

Lola finishers among the nine cars running at the end included Scott Dixon, 6th in the #44 Target Lola/Toyota, 7th-placed Christian Fittipaldi in the #11 Lilly Lola/Toyota and Bruno Junqueira, who lost his left rear wheel at the first pit stops in the #4 Target Lola/Toyota and was penalized an additional lap. He retains second place in the standings.

The Champ Cars have a one-week hiatus and then venture to Mexico City on 17 November for the season-closing Mexico Gran Premio 2002 at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

-lola cars-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Bruno Junqueira , Patrick Carpentier , Christian Fittipaldi , Scott Dixon , Cristiano da Matta