CHAMPCAR/CART: Marlboro Team Penske Laguna Seca race notes

"The Marlboro car was handling very well today, and I was definitely driving for the win at the beginning of the race. In the first 36 laps, I was trying to pull away from Helio (Castroneves) and Scott (Dixon), but Helio pitted before me and...

"The Marlboro car was handling very well today, and I was definitely driving for the win at the beginning of the race. In the first 36 laps, I was trying to pull away from Helio (Castroneves) and Scott (Dixon), but Helio pitted before me and Scott short-fueled so he beat me out of the pits. I was trying to stay with them and I was pushing the car as hard as I could, knowing that they didn't have as much fuel as I did. When we came into the pits on our second stop (lap 50), I beat them back out onto the track and I was behind guys who should have needed to pit before the end of the race. Unfortunately, there were a lot of yellow flags and it ended up being a timed race so Papis and Gidley made it until the end.

"I'm slightly frustrated with our result, but we could never have predicted there would be so many yellow flags. From a Championship standpoint, however, I'm happy with the 16 points I earned this weekend (de Ferran earned one point for the pole, one point for most laps led and 14 points for third place).

"I've been saying all weekend that there will come a time when I have to drive for the Championship and the last few laps of the race proved to be that time. The thought of going for the win didn't even go through my mind because I needed the points. I knew Kenny (Brack) and Michael (Andretti) were out of contention, so at that point I was just trying as hard as I could to do my job and bring it home third. We had a good result today and it will be interesting to see where we stand after Australia."

-- Gil de Ferran, Marlboro Team Penske, #1 2001 Marlboro Honda Reynard

-- Third place finish, Honda Grand Prix of Monterey

-- First place in the CART FedEx Series Championship with 179 points (26 points ahead of second place, Kenny Brack)

-- Eighth podium finish of the season and eighth consecutive points-paying finish

"We had a good start -- the car was handling well and we were able to maintain second. We decided to pit on lap 18 when it went yellow given multiple cars were involved in the incident and there was a lot of debris so we thought it would take longer to go green; and we thought that more cars would follow us in. We went out in 13th, but I was able to pass three cars and move to tenth (lap 28). When the leaders made their first stop, we took the lead (lap 39). We had a good second stop (lap 50- 11.528 sec.), but the exit to the pits isn't level and when I got side-by-side with the #26 car (Tracy), my car swerved to the right causing me to wang wheels with him. It was a shame because I hurt my hand when the steering wheel snapped back, and it bent the right front upper wishbone. Luckily we were able to keep going.

"Then CART decided to close the pits on lap 51 which really hurt our strategy. We would have been in great shape if that hadn't happened. It just doesn't make sense to close the pits then and not at other points in the race.

"We need to move forward and think positively. We are still looking okay in the championship -- not great, but okay and we are still in it."

-- Helio Castroneves, Marlboro Team Penske, #3 2001 Marlboro Honda Reynard

-- Sixth place finish, Honda Grand Prix of Monterey

-- Third in the CART FedEx Series Championship with 141 points (38 points out of first and 12 points out of second)

-- Castroneves had the fastest lap of the race -- 71.500 sec. -- .516 sec. faster than the next fastest lap

-- Castroneves has scored points in eight of the last nine events and 14 of 18 (78%) races this season

-MTP-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Kenny Brack
Teams Team Penske