CHAMPCAR/CART: Mercedes Report, Miller Lite 200, Milwaukee Mile

Miller Lite 200, The Milwaukee Mile, West Allis, Wis. Sun., May 31, 1998 Race Report Rookie Helio Castro-Neves Earns Second-Place Finish at the Milwaukee Mile And Takes the CART Rookie of the Year Points Lead in the Process Greg Moore...

Miller Lite 200, The Milwaukee Mile, West Allis, Wis. Sun., May 31, 1998 Race Report

Rookie Helio Castro-Neves Earns Second-Place Finish at the Milwaukee Mile And Takes the CART Rookie of the Year Points Lead in the Process Greg Moore Remains Second in the Driver's Championship

Team Alumax's Helio Castro-Neves finished second in the Miller Lite 200 at the Milwaukee Mile. It was the best finish of his CART career, and moved him into the lead in the rookie of the year standings with 28 points, six ahead of Tony Kanaan, who has 22.

Castro-Neves' effort gave the Mercedes-Benz IC108E two podium finishes, as fellow Mercedes pilot Al Unser Jr. overcame early handling problems to finish third for Marlboro Team Penske.

Player's/Forsythe drivers Patrick Carpentier and Greg Moore dominated early, as Carpentier sprinted from the pole to lead Micheal Andretti. On lap 16 though, Andretti and Carpentier touched wheels and both were done for the day. Moore then inherited the lead and kept it for 55 laps.

Moore's day came to an early end too, though, when he and Mauricio Gugelmin made contact as Gil de Ferran's engine expired in front of them. Gugelmin hit the brakes hard in his Hollywood/PacWest Reynard to avoid the debris. Moore, who was preparing to pass Gugelmin, suffered suspension damage on his Reynard when he was unable to avoid the left-rear of Gugelmin. Gugelmin's car suffered a cut tire, but he continued after it was replaced.

Despite the problems, Moore remains in second in the driver's championship with 85 points, only seven behind the leader, Alex Zanardi, who has 92.

Mercedes-Benz Driver Quotes

Helio Castro-Neves, No. 16, Team Alumax Reynard/Mercedes/Goodyear - Second "My car was as good at the end as it was at the beginning. Tony (Bettenhausen) told me that I had a car that could make it to the top three. I guess he was right! In the race, they kept telling me over the radio to keep cool and save fuel. Well, I was saving fuel, I can tell you. When I started to run out in turn four I said to myself, ‘Oh no! Not now, not now...please just a little more!' But I am so happy today. My team was great today. People sometimes don't understand my enthusiasm, my emotion. I am so happy for the team to be here today."

Al Unser Jr., No. 2, Marlboro Penske/Mercedes/Goodyear - Third "The Marlboro car ran strong from the beginning and we were hanging with the leaders all day. We fell a bit short, but it felt good to be on the podium. I was wide open at the end and pushed as hard as I could to catch Helio (Castro-Neves). I really want to thank Andre (Ribeiro). His setup was better than mine and we used it for the race today. Everybody is doing a great job -- Mercedes, Goodyear and my whole team. We've now had a second and a third-place finish, and we're starting to show what this car can do. We've had our share of over- engineering and bad luck, but this championship is not over by any means. We're ready to go to Detroit and see what this car can do on a road course."

Mark Blundell, No. 18, Motorola Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone - 12th "I had a really bad vibration on the last few laps that actually made my fingers numb. We just didn't get on top of the car today. At least we earned a championship point. That could be important at the end of the season. I'm glad to get off the short ovals and go to some road courses and street courses."

Andre Ribeiro, No. 3, Marlboro Team Penske/Mercedes/Firestone - 18th "After such a strong qualifying position (third), I was really looking forward to today's race. Unfortunately the car immediately began oversteering and we spent the entire race trying to overcome it. The good news is that Al (Unser Jr.) ran a great race and was able to put the Marlboro car in the winner's circle, which is a big boost for the entire team."

Greg Moore, No. 99, Player's Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone - 13th "I was just passing Mauricio (Gugelmin), and I had a good run on him. I went to pull out from the draft and he saw the smoke and hit the brakes. I had no time to avoid him. It's unfortunate because I thought we had the field covered. I didn't know how bad the car was. I thought a steering arm broke and it might be easy to fix. It wasn't easy, but the guys did a great job anyway."

JJ Lehto, No. 9, Hogan Racing Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone - 19th "Unfortunately, things didn't pan out the way we had hoped. There were no problems with the car on the first set of tires. With the second set, we made some changes which probably weren't the best choices. At that point the car had already begun to overheat and I knew it was really just a matter of time."

Mauricio Gugelmin, No. 17, Hollywood Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone - 21st "Gil (de Ferran) blew up and there was smoke everywhere. Russell (Cameron, team manager) got on the radio to warn me and I backed off. Greg (Moore) must not have known there was a problem because he hit me in the back. It was a hard hit. I'm surprised I didn't crash the car."

Patrick Carpentier, No. 33, Player's Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone - 25th "I saw him (Michael Andretti) pull beside me on the straight. He braked much earlier than I expected. I pulled into the corner assuming he wasn't there anymore. I just closed the door to keep my line. The car didn't have a lot of grip up high, so I tried to stay low to keep my line and we touched."

Race Results, Miller Lite 200 The Milwaukee Mile, West Allis, Wis. May 31, 1998

Pos     Driver          Chassis / Engine / Tires             Laps
 1     Jimmy Vasser    Reynard/Honda/Firestone                200
 2     Helio Castro-Neves      Reynard/Mercedes/Goodyear      200
 3     Al Unser Jr.    Penske/Mercedes/Goodyear               200
 4     Dario Franchitti        Reynard/Honda/Firestone        200
 5     Bobby Rahal     Reynard/Ford/Firestone                 200
 6     Richie Hearn    Swift/Ford/Firestone                   199  
 7     Paul Tracy      Reynard/Honda/Firestone                199
 8     Alex Zanardi    Reynard/Honda/Firestone                199
 9     Adrian Fernandez        Reynard/Ford/Firestone         199
10     Scott Pruett    Reynard/Ford/Firestone                 199
12     Mark Blundell   Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone             196
13     Greg Moore      Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone             195
18     Andre Ribeiro   Penske/Mercedes/Goodyear               189
19     JJ Lehto                Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone     119
21     Mauricio Gugelmin       Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone     102
25     Patrick Carpentier      Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone      16
                                
PPG Cup Rankings: Zanardi   92    Manufacturer's Rankings: Honda     128
                  Moore     85                       Mercedes-Benz   107
                  Vasser    72                       Ford Cosworth   107
                  Fernandez 59                       Toyota           10
                                

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Adrian Fernandez , Bobby Rahal , Patrick Carpentier , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Alex Zanardi , Tony Kanaan , Mauricio Gugelmin , Scott Pruett , Mark Blundell , Richie Hearn , Andre Ribeiro , Greg Moore , JJ Lehto
Teams Team Penske