CHAMPCAR/CART: Houston Team KOOL Race Report

PAUL TRACY AND DARIO FRANCHITTI FINISH 1-2 FOR TEAM KOOL GREEN CART FedEx Championship Series - RACE Round 18 of 20 - Texaco/Havoline GP of Houston HOUSTON, Tex., (Sept. 26, 1999) - Paul Tracy and Dario Franchitti completed their third 1-2 ...

PAUL TRACY AND DARIO FRANCHITTI FINISH 1-2 FOR TEAM KOOL GREEN

CART FedEx Championship Series - RACE Round 18 of 20 - Texaco/Havoline GP of Houston

HOUSTON, Tex., (Sept. 26, 1999) - Paul Tracy and Dario Franchitti completed their third 1-2 finish for Team KOOL Green this season, as Tracy claimed his 15th career Champ Car victory at today's Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston. He crossed the finish line 13.733 seconds ahead of Franchitti, who came all the way back from 18th to finish second.

Team KOOL Green's drivers also finished 1-2 earlier this season on street circuits in Toronto and Detroit with Franchitti taking victory each time. Today's race belonged to Tracy, who dominated the race after pole winner Juan Montoya crashed on the 13th of 100 laps. With yellow caution flags waving, Montoya ran into the stopped car of Helio Castro-Neves. Tracy then stretched his lead to as much as 26 seconds over the closest car, leading the last 85 of 88 laps in the race. Tracy needed only one stop (lap 48), cruising to victory through good tire management and a fuel conservation strategy.

Fortune smiled on Franchitti today. He started fourth on the grid, but had fallen back to as far as 18th early in the race. He pitted under the caution for the incident involving Castro-Neves and Montoya. Working his way through the field, Franchitti actually led laps 49-51 before his second stop. He benefited again, pitting under yellow a second time on lap 52 when the car of Andrea Montermini stopped on course. Franchitti was fifth when he went back to racing, soon gaining a position when Jan Magnussen pitted under green. On lap 62, Franchitti passed Kanaan for third place and set his sights on Christian Fittipaldi. The chase ended on the 83rd lap when Franchitti forced his way past Fittipaldi in Turn 7. Franchitti could not close ground on his teammate, but kept Michael Andretti back in third.

Montoya's misfortune certainly helped narrow the gap in the championship standings, as Franchitti pulled within 13 points of the Colombian rookie (200 to 187) with two races remaining. Tracy collected 21 points today and solidified his hold on third place now with 155 points. Andretti is fourth overall with 141.

PAUL TRACY, #26 TEAM KOOL GREEN HONDA/REYNARD/FIRESTONE: (Started 3rd / Finished 1st ; Currently 3rd in the PPG Cup standings with 155 points)

"I was fine over the last few laps. We could make the fuel mileage pretty easily. I was making 2.3 plus (miles to the gallon) and I only needed 2.1. I just can't say enough about the job the Team KOOL Green crew did with the car. Tony Cicale gave me a great car and Firestone gave us awesome tires. We put a lot of laps on them and they held up. We showed everyone that Paul Tracy is a road racer and not just an oval specialist.

ON TEAM CHEMISTRY THIS YEAR: "I think I've matured as a racer. I really feel a strong bond with this team and that what's key. It's showing in the whole team's performance. I just can't say enough about the job they've done for me.

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES: "I hate to say that any place owed me one, but I definitely stuck that boot right there (race winner's trophy) right in my rear last year. It's better to have the gold boot in my hand than in my butt. I got it right this year."

DARIO FRANCHITTI, #27 TEAM KOOL GREEN HONDA/REYNARD/FIRESTONE: (Started 4th / Finished 2nd ; Currently 2nd in the PPG Cup standings with 187 points) "To come back to finish 1-2 again for Team KOOL Green is really awesome. You know, PT was out of sight today. I told him this morning on the truck during the parade lap that today is going to be your day. My car was better than I expected and I believe we could have given him a run if we hadn't had a problem.

FRANCHITTI ON COMING BACK AFTER FALLING TO 18th: "I'm tired. It was very warm. I was driving every lap like it was a qualifying lap. It just takes a lot out of you. We really had a big problem on the first stint. That totally screwed us up, so we were 18th when we went back to racing. Don [Halliday] and Scott [Graves], my engineers, came up with a great strategy and we came back through the field. My guys were telling me 'you can do it' over the radio. They told me to be patient, the others had to pit.

"The car and the Firestones were working really well for the rest of the race. It was difficult because I was trying to save fuel and pass people. Some people were blocking, while others were great. [Tony] Kanaan saw me and let me by. that was great of him."

BARRY GREEN, TEAM KOOL GREEN Owner:

"Just awesome. Now, I just hope we don't miss the championship by four points. With Michael [Andretti] on Dario's tail, I had to do it. Paul worked so hard, they both did. It was a great team effort for Team KOOL Green. It was handed to us, especially Dario coming back from 18th. It's a fantastic effort and the championship is still alive. Another 1-2, this is just wonderful. "We were very tight on fuel. Paul had a terrific car today and great sets of Firestones."

KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship - RACE

Alex Gurney drove his strongest race of the season for Team KOOL Green, finishing sixth after starting seventh in the finale of the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship. Gurney was running fourth heading into the last corner of the final lap when Alex Talgiani knocked him off course. Gurney recovered, but Tagliani and Kenny Wilden beat him in a sprint to the finish line.

Andrew Bordin won today's race in large part due to his teammate Anthony Lazzaro, who lead all the laps except the last one when he moved over to allow Bordin past. Lazarro had already clinched the championship last race at Laguna Seca and his move allowed Bordin to finish third overall in the final standings.

Bordin's margin of victory over Lazarro was 0.176 seconds, while William Langhorne finished third. Widen took home fourth and Tagliani fifth.

ALEX GURNEY, #27 Team KOOL Green Toyota/Swift: (Started 7th / Finished 6th)

"I had fourth position clear. [Alex] Tagliani didn't get by me in the spots on track where any sane person would pass. He couldn't get past me, so he just took me out on the last corner of the last lap. You don't pass there. He just drove right into the back of me. He spun me around and I went to neutral when I stopped. I kept the KOOL car going and [Kenny] Wilden was coming around the corner with damage. Tagliani probably had some damage as well, but all three of us drag raced to the end. I ended up a little short as all three of crossed the line.

"It was a disappointing end, but we ran competitively all day long. It was nice to run in the lead pack all day. The car was really consistent and I was glad to get by Tagliani, even though he took me out in the last corner. Maybe they should penalize him and I'll get my spot back."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Alex Gurney , Christian Fittipaldi , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Andrea Montermini , Andrew Bordin , Alex T