The Honda Grand Prix of Monterey Featuring the Shell 300 Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway October 14, 2001 Herta Finishes In The Points Despite Starting 26th Herta started last and made five pit stops yet still managed a point paying finish. Forced...
The Honda Grand Prix of Monterey Featuring the Shell 300
Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway
October 14, 2001
Herta Finishes In The Points Despite Starting 26th
Herta started last and made five pit stops yet still managed a point paying finish. Forced to start last due to a qualifying penalty, Herta took advantage of the early race yellow flags and made his first pitstop of the race on the second lap. The Forsythe Championship Racing crew played double duty as they served as firefighters on the sixth lap when a massive pit fire engulfed next door in Memo Gidleys pitbox. Fortunately there were no injuries, and the team was back to their race duties within minutes.
Herta was involved in wheel to wheel contact with Max Wilson and hit the rear of Casey Mears' car on lap eight which caused the second yellow of the day. The nosecone of the #77 Ford-Cosworth was severely damaged. Herta made his second stop of the day on lap 11, taking fuel only and giving the crew the opportunity to assess the damage. Herta returned to the track in efforts to remain on the lead lap, and immediately re-entered the pits to replace his nosecone. The Forsythe crew quickly changed the nose and Herta was back on track, 34 seconds behind the field, but more importantly, on the lead lap. The third yellow of the day came three laps later when Roberto Moreno and Michel Jourdain made contact.
Again Herta took advantage of the yellow track condition and stopped for fuel and tires on the 21st lap. Herta charged through the field to 11th position and remained there until he made his fifth and final pitstop of the day on the 50th lap, again under yellow track conditions caused by Michael Andretti's spin. Herta returned to the track in 15th position, but had enough fuel to finish the 83-lap race. Nine additional yellow laps due to two separate incidents slowed the pace of the race to a near halt, and benefited the leaders who would not have been able to finish the race without another stop for fuel had it run it's 83 scheduled laps. Luck was not on Herta's side as the two-hour time limit expired, ending the race seven laps early. Herta was not able to maximize his strategy due to the shortened race, as the leaders were able to finish the race without an additional pitstop.
However, all was not lost as Herta and the Forsythe Championship Racing Team earned their first championship point finish since Herta's fifth place finish at the Michigan 500 earlier in the season.
Bryan Herta #77 Forsythe Indeck/Ford-Cosworth/Reynard
Warm-Up: 13th - 1.12.442
Qualified: 5th - 1.09.392
Race Result: 12th
Herta on the Day: "It was a crazy day. Despite all of the occurrences out there we finished and were able to get a point out of it. It is too bad it was a timed race because that definitely blew our strategy, otherwise we would have been looking pretty good. We made five stops today, including a nose-change, so it was an interesting day. I guess I am leaving here with mixed feelings, because I had high expectations for the weekend."
*The #77 Champ Car driven by Bryan Herta qualified fifth for the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey with a time of 1.09.392. Due to a penalty, Herta was disqualified and will start at the back of the field in the 26th position. The disqualification stemmed from a right rear underwing stay that came loose during the group one qualifying session. During the mandatory post-qualifying inspection, the #77 Forsythe Indeck/Ford-Cosworth/Reynard failed the 50 lb. rule, rule 9.4.1C of the CART rulebook, which states the sidepod panel deflection must be less than one tenth (.10) inch. Upon application of a point load of fifty (50) pounds, the #77 car exceeded the rule by .025, equivalent to half the thickness of a dime. The car was inspected Thursday at the mandatory CART inspection and passed. The car was checked again immediately before the qualifying session by the CART technical inspection team and passed inspection.