Andretti capitalizes on strategy, Bridgestone tires to triumph. Michael Andretti took advantage of a differing pit strategy and a timely caution period to become the second Bridgestone winner in CART annals, following Cristiano da Matta's...
Andretti capitalizes on strategy, Bridgestone tires to triumph.
Michael Andretti took advantage of a differing pit strategy and a timely caution period to become the second Bridgestone winner in CART annals, following Cristiano da Matta's victory in the season opener at Monterrey, Mexico.
Mired in 15th starting position, Andretti's Team Motorola crew opted to pit later than the race leaders. The strategy worked out when he was able to duck in for his final stop on the 64th of 90 laps as the rest of the field slowed for a full-course yellow. Andretti, driving a Honda/Reynard, was able to stop for fuel and four fresh Bridgestone Potenza tires, yet still return to the course in first place. He held off pole sitter Jimmy Vasser, in the Team Rahal Shell Ford/Lola/Bridgestone, by 0.466 seconds for his 42nd career win but first with Bridgestone.
"The Bridgestone tires held up perfect all day long," Andretti said. "We were running very fast laps at the end of the race and the tires were right there all the way. It was one of those days when the breaks went our way."
Al Speyer, Bridgestone Motorsport Executive Director: "We are always pleased when the Bridgestone Potenzas perform well, the drivers have excellent handling cars and the fans witness an exciting race. Our company has much experience and previous success at Long Beach, but it's a new era for Bridgestone entering CART, so it makes this victory more noteworthy in our racing history. The biggest impact on today's race was the new rules that Chris Pook and his staff have instituted. They enabled Michael to use a clever strategy, which was a key component in his win. A major attraction of sports is an unexpected outcome where someone overcomes adversity and the odds to win. That's exactly what we saw today. It's great."
Shu Ishibashi, President, Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, attending today's race: "It's great to see the Bridgestone brand here in CART. The exposure is so important to us. We are very pleased to see Michael win today because he is such a great supporter of Bridgestone/Firestone."
Jimmy Vasser, second place, Shell Ford-Cosworth/Lola/ Bridgestone: "The Bridgestone tires never missed a beat. I'm real happy with the performance of the team today. Sometimes it just takes a little bit of luck."
Race session temperatures ranged from 75 to 82 degrees track and 69 to 74 degrees ambient (F).