LONG BEACH, Calif., (April 16, 2000) -- Team KOOL Green's Paul Tracy earned his 16th career Champ Car victory where he won for the very first time (1993) at today's Grand Prix of Long Beach. Starting from 17th on the grid, Tracy and his crew...
LONG BEACH, Calif., (April 16, 2000) -- Team KOOL Green's Paul Tracy earned his 16th career Champ Car victory where he won for the very first time (1993) at today's Grand Prix of Long Beach. Starting from 17th on the grid, Tracy and his crew worked their way to the front with strong pit stops that were out of sequence with the rest of the field. He led the final 21 laps, cruising to a margin of victory of 3.191 seconds over Helio Castro-Neves, with Jimmy Vasser in third.
Tracy's crew employed a different pit strategy because of their starting position, making three stops instead of two compared to most front-runners. The #26 crew serviced Tracy's car for the final time on lap 54, when the fourth of six cautions in the race slowed the pace of the race. From there, Tracy slotted into third after his stop, behind Roberto Moreno and surprise race leader Takuya Kurosawa. The Japanese driver led for seven laps before giving way to Tracy, who took over the lead at turn one on lap 62. Moreno dropped back with gearbox problems, allowing Castro-Neves to take a run at Tracy. Two more cautions in the race brought Castro-Neves within striking distance, but each time Tracy powered away as Neves defended against Vasser.
Dario Franchitti, meanwhile, did not enjoy today's 82-lap race because his ended after only 23 laps. Franchitti's #27 car was clipped by Michel Jourdain Jr., which punctured his right rear tire.
For the first time since going to Toronto in 1997, Tracy leads the CART FedEx Championship with 34 points. Vasser is second overall with 26 points, followed by Moreno and Max Papis with 20 points. Franchitti is 17th overall with 2 points, while last year's champion Juan Montoya is 20th with a single point.
PAUL TRACY, #26 TEAM KOOL GREEN HONDA/REYNARD/FIRESTONE:
(Started 17th / Finished 1st ; Currently 1st in the standings with 34 points)
"It's just huge to win this race. The job that Team KOOL Green does is amazing. Tony Cicale, my whole crew, Barry Green, and I really have to thank Steve Challis for the contribution that he has made to our team this year. It's just phenomenal. We started in the back twice now and we haven't panicked. We just got the car sorted out. We know that we have a good team and that's what we've concentrated on... being as good as we can be. That drives us to go forward.
"It was a fantastic run for Team KOOL Green. The pit strategy that the guys came up with was unbelieveable. I ran a clean race and we tried to be real conservative on the tires. Starting 17th, the plan was just to stay alive and not get into a wreck. There was a lot of stuff going on in front of us with traffic. Michael (Andretti) and I ran hard together for a long time, working together and that brought us up through the field. Our strategy just seemed to be right at the end.
WHAT BARRY GREEN HAD TO SAY:
"We changed the car a lot last night and Paul was really happy with it this morning in practice. Starting 17th though, that's a tough job for anyone. Paul did a fantastic job, we made some right calls and had great pit stops. It was a real team effort today. We blew them away in the pits. Paul didn't make one mistake in the last 25 to 30 laps. He was absolutely perfect and that's what it takes to win at Long Beach."
DARIO FRANCHITTI, #27 TEAM KOOL GREEN HONDA/REYNARD/FIRESTONE:
(Started 19th / Finished 23rd ; Currently 16th in the standings with 2 points)
"Obviously, I'm disappointed. I think I screwed up myself yesterday in qualifying. The KOOL car wasn't that bad of a race car, but we just couldn't pass anybody. We were trying to use a different pit strategy in hope to pick up track position, which might have paid off for us. I passed Michel, but he lost it in the fountain section. I was past him and I gave him a lot of room going into the next corner and he drove into the back of me. The contact ripped the side wall out of the tire. That was it. It was a disastrous weekend."