CHAMPCAR/CART: Michael Andretti, Christian Fittipaldi Milwaukee track notes

Milwaukee, Wisc. --- June 5, 2000 - Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline driver Michael Andretti charged from his 10th place starting position into a second place finish in the Miller Lite 225 at the Carl Haas-promoted Milwaukee Mile with the help of...

Milwaukee, Wisc. --- June 5, 2000

- Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline driver Michael Andretti charged from his 10th place starting position into a second place finish in the Miller Lite 225 at the Carl Haas-promoted Milwaukee Mile with the help of his pit crew and a typically strong start.

Intermittent drizzle forced the race to be postponed until today at 10 am CT but the moisture persisted and ultimately the race started at 12:45 PM local time.

On the first of 225 laps, Andretti passed Max Papis, Mauricio Gugelmin, Roberto Moreno and teammate Christian Fittipaldi to take over sixth place on the first lap. On the next lap, Andretti pulled alongside Paul Tracy but was not able to pass. He held sixth place until he charged past Tracy on lap 25 for fifth place. A few laps later, a caution flag came out to remove the crashed car of Shinji Nakano.

During the caution, those drivers in 12th place or higher made their first pit stop, a strategy that would later help them based on the flow of the caution flags. After the restart, Andretti held fifth place until his first pit stop on lap 77. The Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline pit crew performed a flawless job and Andretti returned to the track four positions higher (of the lead group) in 15th place but the leader of those who pit. During the stop, he passed leader Juan Montoya, Patrick Carpentier, Gil de Ferran and Dario Franchitti. As those running higher than him began pitting, Andretti moved into 10th place.

On lap 101, pole sitter Juan Pablo Montoya passed Andretti and dropped him to 11th place. As more drivers who were out of pit sequence continued to make their second pit stops, Andretti gained positions and was in sixth place by lap 108. After race leader Adrian Fernandez, Kenny Brack and Roberto Moreno made their second out-of-sequence stop, Andretti moved into second place behind Montoya by lap 114. He was running within one-half of a second to two seconds behind Montoya while conserving fuel for a late race run.

He made his second routine pit stop on lap 154 and an adjustment to the front wing was made in an attempt to give more grip to Andretti. He returned to the race in sixth place behind four drivers that did not pit as well as race leader Montoya who was able to stretch his fuel load for the second consecutive stint. On lap 183 a yellow came out to retrieve the car of Tarso Marques who made contact with the wall. This enabled those drivers who were out of sequence to pit while under the slower caution period. On lap 186 of 225, all drivers had made their second stop and Andretti moved back into second place. He kept close watch on Montoya and knew that the young Colombian was not as quick through traffic.

By lap 208, Andretti was five seconds behind Montoya but closed to four seconds on lap 215. On the last 10 laps, Montoya encountered lapped traffic and Andretti began his charge. By the checkered flag on lap 225, Andretti had closed the margin to one second and narrowly missed scoring a career high sixth victory on one track as well as his 40th CART victory. Reigning CART FedEx Champion Montoya scored his first victory of the 2000 season as well as the first Champ car victory for Toyota. Andretti collected 16 points toward the championship and leaped into fourth place in the standings. Following are his post race

comments:

"I did my passing at the start of the race and in the pits," said Andretti. "The Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline guys did a great job in the pits to make up four positions. All of the extra practice has really paid off for us. They have worked really hard on pit stops. The fans were fantastic. A lot of people came out to the race and we really appreciate it. The conditions were difficult since it was postponed and it was good to see so many people back. I don't know what it is about this place. Maybe it's the cheese. I just enjoy racing here and has been competitive. We gave away tons of points at the start of the season and are starting to make them back up. It was a good day. The car was halfway decent but not perfect. Juan was having more problems than I was in traffic. When he finally caught traffic with five laps to go I pushed hard and was gaining on him. Too bad there weren't 10 more laps. (On the crash in practice:) It didn't affect the outcome of the race, just the race for the pole. (On Juan's success:) He has a good team behind him and he is a good driver. It was only a matter of time until they won a race this season. (Said jokingly:) Too bad it was when I was in second."

- Big Kmart/Route 66 driver Christian Fittipaldi's weekend started out difficult but the Brazilian bounced back on Saturday during qualifying with an impressive performance where he drove his fastest lap so far of the weekend and earned a fifth place start.

As has had happened so many times this season, the yellow flag did not cooperate in the Miller Lite 225, a fact that ultimately cost him three positions as well as valuable points toward the championship. At the start of the race, Paul Tracy passed Fittipaldi on the first lap and teammate Andretti on the second one putting him in seventh place. He held seventh place and reported to the crew that his car had too much "push." He held his position through the first caution period when 12th place and back made their first stop under caution. While they had nothing to lose due to their previous position on track, the strategy ultimately gained three of the drivers a finishing position ahead of Fittipaldi.

After the race was restarted, Fittipaldi held his position until his first pit stop on lap 79. He returned to the race in 18th place after being passed in the pits by Max Papis. He held his position until others began making their stops and was in 13th place by lap 108 before the out-of-sequence drivers completed their pit stops. Roberto Moreno stopped on lap 104 while Adrian Fernandez pit on lap 112 and Kenny Brack pit on lap 114. Fittipaldi was up to eighth place by this point and again reported that he had too much "push."

He moved up to sixth place on lap 154 when second place Andretti and fourth place Gil de Ferran made their final stops. He moved into fifth place before he made his final stop on lap 159. As the stop was being completed, an undetermined problem happened that resulted in the fuel hose popping freely off of the receptacle. Fittipaldi returned to the race in 16th place but moved into 15th when Paul Tracy was black-flagged for a pit penalty. By lap 179, he moved into 12th place as others made their second stop. By lap 181 he was in 10th place. A yellow flag came out on lap 183 to retrieve the crashed car of Tarso Marques.

The three drivers that had yet to make their final stop and had all led the race briefly while out of pit sequence could now do so under the slower yellow period and not lose as much track position as the other did when they pit under racing conditions. Kenny Brack, who started in 16th place, Roberto Moreno, who started in seventh place and Adrian Fernandez, who started in 19th place pitted and returned to the track ahead of Fittipaldi rather than behind him, which would have been the case in racing conditions. Fittipaldi remained in 10th place until the race was restarted and he passed Fernandez. On lap 200, Fernandez was able to get a run on Fittipaldi and passed him for position. He held 10th place until lap 218 when third place runner Gil de Ferran had to pit for a splash of fuel, moving Fittipaldi to ninth place where he took the checkered flag after 225 laps. He collected four points for his 11th points-paying finish in the past 13 races.

Following are his post race comments:

"The guys (Moreno, Brack and Fernandez) that were out of sync (on their pit stops) caught me on the last yellow," said Fittipaldi. "There were three cars that would have had to pit but they caught the yellow otherwise we would have at least finished sixth. The yellows have not worked well for me this year. We lost a position on the first stop in the pits also. I had too much push the entire race. The car was a handful. Ninth place wasn't great but we scored a few points and were able to hold our ground in relation to the others. We need to be making up ground though. I'm looking forward the Detroit race so we can see how we do on the second street course. There will be many people from Kmart at the race so we need to make a strong show for them and the fans. We plan to make up some points there."

- Next on the Schedule: Round 7 of 20 in the CART FedEx Championship series takes place in two weeks in Detroit, Mich. near The Kmart Corporation's home base of Troy. The ITT Automotive Detroit Grand Prix will be held on June 18.

- Top Finishers in the Miller Lite 225 - Round 6 of 20

    Driver          Team                                        Start       
1.  Juan Montoya        Target Toyota Reynard                   1       
2.  Michael Andretti    Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola         10
3.  Patrick Carpentier  Players/Indeck Ford Cosworth            3
4.  Kenny Brack     Shell Ford Reynard                      16
5.  Roberto Moreno      Visteon Ford Reynard                    7

9. Christian Fittipaldi Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford Lola 5

- CART FedEx Cup Point Standings (after Milwaukee) Driver Team Points 1. Paul Tracy Kool Honda-Reynard 59 2. Roberto Moreno Visteon Ford Reynard 52 3. Jimmy Vasser Target Toyota-Reynard 48 4. Michael Andretti Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford-Lola 44 5. Juan Montoya Target Toyota Reynard 44

12. Christian Fittipaldi Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford-Lola 24

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya