CHAMPCAR/CART: Gateway: Montoya again on a short oval

By David Reininger - Motorsport.com Madison, IL (September 17, 2000) - Juan Montoya led 83 laps on his way to victory in the Motorola 300 at Gateway International Raceway this afternoon. It was Montoya's third victory in the CART FedEx series...

By David Reininger - Motorsport.com

Madison, IL (September 17, 2000) - Juan Montoya led 83 laps on his way to victory in the Motorola 300 at Gateway International Raceway this afternoon. It was Montoya's third victory in the CART FedEx series this season. All three victories have come on ovals.

Thanks to Juan Montoya, with wins at Milwaukee and Michigan, and Cristiano da Matta, victor at Chicago, Toyota-powered cars have led 49 percent of the laps run on ovals in the CART series this season.

Michael Andretti led 121 laps, nearly lapping the entire field before his engine expired 46 laps from the finish. "We were one car shy of lapping the field and that would have been a great boost for the team," said Andretti. "I lost power and just tried to hang on and then the thing just blew up. We built up a sizable lead and that went away over the next few laps after we noticed the problem."

Andretti was classified in 20th position.

Andretti's engine problems handed the lead to Montoya, who enjoyed a full lap advantage over Patrick Carpentier in second place.

"I don't know how many races I gave away this year, for different reasons, so it was nice for someone to give me one," said Montoya.

With a full lap lead in hand, Montoya lost his momentum when Paul Tracy hit the wall in front of him, allowing Carpentier to sneak by, onto the lead lap.

"When Paul made the mistake I was a lap ahead of everybody. I knew Patrick was close behind me. It would be nice to lap the field, but I all ready did it. I just wanted to finish and win the race. It would be really stupid if I tried to keep up ahead of him and stuff the car in the wall."

Tracy retired shortly after hitting the wall. He slipped one position in the point standings after being classified 18th. "When I downshifted going into the turn, the gearbox started locking up and I slid into the gray and brushed the wall," said Tracy. "That's what flattened the (right rear) tire. But our big problem was the gearbox. We only had a couple of gears left."

Patrick Carpentier equaled his career best finish with second place today. "We came in Friday and had a bit of a struggle," said Carpentier, driver of the Ford-power Players Reynard. "I had a little too much push in the middle of the race and I couldn't pass a lot of cars. Towards the end, I made a change at the last pit stop and the car got really neutral and it was really, really fast, and stayed that way all the way to the end."

Once Carpentier put the Players car on the lead lap, he started cutting away at Montoya's lead by a second a lap. "I was hoping to catch Juan, but it was practically impossible. I was driving as fast as I could in case he was going to have a problem. But we'll take second and we're pretty happy with that."

Roberto Moreno earned his fifth podium of the season after finishing third in the Ford-powered Visteon Reynard. It was his first podium since winning at Cleveland earlier this season. With Andretti and Tracy failing to score points today, Moreno moves from 6th to second in championship, eight points behind de Ferran.

Twenty-third in the morning warmup session, Moreno knew changes were in order prior to starting the race. "I got in the car today, I couldn't drive it. We tried to approach our understeer problem that we've been having throughout the weekend and we went too aggressive. Afterwards, we all sat down and talked about it. We went back on the car the way it was on Friday, with full tanks, and it worked. I didn't know it was going to work that way. Throughout the race the only problem I had was with tire pressures. Once we got that handled, the car handled really well, and went quite fast."

"Jim McGee's strategy paid off. He got me up front and kept me there. Towards the end, he asked me to save some fuel. I was still fast and I was able to keep my position. It was a great day, coming from nowhere this morning to a very good car in the race." PPI Motorsports teammates, Cristiano da Matta and Oriol Servia finished fourth and fifth respectively. Servia earned the Budweiser Hard Charger Award by earning fifth place from his 18th place starting position.

"I think I had a top three car today," Servia said. "I was definitely faster than Cristiano and Roberto, but Cristiano was driving very defensively. He also did a very good job today, I am really happy we were able to give Cal his first two top five finishes in the same race."

Gil de Ferran, driver of the Marlboro Team Penske Reynard, retains the points lead after scoring five points for his eighth place finish. De Ferran made contact with Jimmy Vasser which caused problems for the rest of the day. "I was beside Jimmy and maybe he didn't see me, he put me down against the curbs and then we hit. By myself, I could run 24.7, 27.6 (second lap times). But after the contact, the handling tailed off a bit so I'm grateful to bring the car home in the points today, and now we go on to Houston."

Notes: Dorricott Racing earned the top-three positions in this afternoon's Dayton Indy Lights race. Townsend Bell scored maximum points after winning the race from the pole position. Casey Mears finished second, 6.757 seconds behind his teammate and Jason Bright finished third. Townsend Bell now trails Scott Dixon 134-114 in the championship standings.

Scott Dixon needed to score a single point to clinch the Dayton Indy Lights Championship but a crash on lap 18 ended his day early. It was his first DNF of the season.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Casey Mears , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Roberto Moreno , Patrick Carpentier , Paul Tracy , Scott Dixon , Oriol Servia , Townsend Bell , Jason Bright , Cristiano da Matta
Teams Team Penske