KANAAN CAPITALIZES ON PAPIS MISFORTUNE TO CLAIM FIRST CAREER VICTORY AT U.S. 500 PRESENTED BY TOYOTA BROOKLYN, Mich. (July 25, 1999) - Tony Kanaan of McDonald's Championship Racing shot stunningly into the lead when Team Rahal's Max Papis ran...
KANAAN CAPITALIZES ON PAPIS MISFORTUNE TO CLAIM FIRST CAREER VICTORY AT U.S. 500 PRESENTED BY TOYOTA
BROOKLYN, Mich. (July 25, 1999) - Tony Kanaan of McDonald's Championship Racing shot stunningly into the lead when Team Rahal's Max Papis ran out of fuel just two turns from the checkered flag Sunday to claim his first career FedEx Championship Series victory in the U.S. 500 Presented by Toyota at Michigan Speedway.
Kanaan's 0.032-second margin of victory over fast-closing Juan Montoya, the FedEx Championship Series points leader, was the second closest in CART history, topped only by Mark Blundell's 0.027-second win over Gil de Ferran at Portland in 1997.
Kanaan (McDonald's Championship Racing Team Honda Reynard) overcame a black flag for a broken gurney flap early in the event which had him running in 14th place on the 82nd of 250 laps. Kanaan gradually worked his way through the field and was in position to take advantage when Papis, who held a 3.072-second advantage entering the final of 250 laps, suddenly slowed as he headed into Turn 3 on the two-mile superspeedway.
It was extremely disheartening for Papis, whose Miller Lite Ford Reynard was strong all afternoon as he led a race-high 143 of 250 laps as he also chased his first career victory. Papis, who had never led a lap in his four-year career prior to Sunday, settled for a seventh-place finish.
Kanaan used Papis' misfortune to become the ninth different winner of the FedEx Championship Series season, tying a series record established in 1985 and tied in 1995, while averaging 186.097 miles per hour. The average speed was third fastest in CART competition at Michigan Speedway. Kanaan's victory improved on his previous career-best finish of third, which came at Laguna Seca and Houston last year.
The race featured 29 lead changes among seven drivers, second in CART history to last year's U.S. 500 Presented by Toyota at Michigan Speedway, which featured 62 lead changes before Greg Moore became first to the checkered flag. Moore finished 23rd Sunday, completing 63 of 250 laps before retiring due to transmission problems.
Montoya's (Target Honda Reynard) runner-up effort was his sixth podium finish of the season and allowed him to increase his championship lead from seven points (113-106) entering the event to 13 (129-116) over second-place Dario Franchitti. Franchitti finished fifth.
Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard), Franchitti's teammate, rounded out the podium with a third-place finish. It was his fourth podium of the season and fifth top-five result in the last six events, dating to his victory at Milwaukee.
Michael Andretti (Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Swift) finished fourth and maintained third place in the championship with 107 points. Franchitti's (KOOL Honda Reynard) fifth-place finish brought him his seventh top-five performance of the season, including a victory last week at Toronto.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
TONY KANAAN, McDonald's Championship Racing Team Honda Reynard: "I lost my radio on Lap 10. I couldn't talk to the team, but they could talk to me. The race was tough. I went a lap down early because the gurney on the rear wing broke. The car was working good when that happened. The race was so close because the radio broke. They were telling me on the pit board to run mixture seven, which is the richest, and I was going to mixture three because I thought we were going to run out of fuel. It was tough luck for Max [Papis], I feel bad for him. But it was good luck for me. I feel sorry, but that's the way races are. I think Max deserved it. He led most of the race and he had a good car, and I actually was pretty comfortable with second place after coming from a lap down. That's the way these races are. Someday they work against you and someday they work for you. When I saw Max slow down, I backed off for a moment, then I thought 'What am I doing?' And when I backed off, the reason I lost all that speed was because I was running a lean mixture. I was busy all the time. I can't say it was a boring race."
JUAN MONTOYA, Target Honda Reynard: "The race was good. I lost my rear brakes midway through the race, which made pitting really difficult. During the last two or three pit stops, I lost I don't know how many positions. [On his early-race duel with Michael Andretti] It was a great fight. It was fun at the beginning; the cars were really good. We started passing each other twice a lap until [owner] Chip [Ganassi] said, 'Hey, slow down!' [On the closeness of the finish] I thought it was going to be close, but not that close. It's a shame it went that way, but at the same time, it went really good. I think if I hadn't had a problem with the brakes, it might have been different, but that's racing."
PAUL TRACY, KOOL Honda Reynard: "It was a fight for me all the way. I was always in a battle the whole race. I tried to pace myself, and the car was pretty good. Twice I got a little high and when I tried to pass, I almost got into the wall so I was pretty lucky. We got the car to where we wanted it on the last stop. Michael [Andretti] and I had a good fair race. I was happy we got the Team KOOL Green in third place and moved up in the championship."
MAX PAPIS, Miller Lite Ford Reynard: "I was having the nicest day of my life today. It was like that until the last half a lap. We dominated the race like I thought we could. The Miller Lite car was so good today. We could pull away from the pack and lead. I could drive anywhere and the car was fantastic. This was our day, just not at the end. All I could do was scream 'My God! We are out of fuel.' On the next-to-last pit stop, the dash [board] froze up. I had to coast and reset the ignition. But that was on the yellow flag lap. It happened again on the final pit stop. But it was green flag and I didn't want to try it then. Maybe the engine would have died. So, I didn't know our fuel meter and neither did my [crew] guys. I was trying to conserve fuel for the last 30 laps. But the team says that the fuel might have run full rich until the end. And we couldn't tell. I was trying to adjust the fuel mixture in the cockpit but the safety system might have come on. And that system just runs the engine at full rich."
* Tony Kanaan (McDonald's Championship Racing Team Honda Reynard) became the ninth different winner of the FedEx Championship Series season Sunday, tying the series standard established in 1985 and equaled in 1995. This year's other winners include Juan Montoya (Target Honda Reynard) at Long Beach, Nazareth, Rio de Janeiro and Cleveland; Greg Moore (Player's Forsythe Racing Team Mercedes Reynard) at Homestead; Adrian Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford Reynard) at Japan; Michael Andretti (Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Swift) at Gateway; Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard) at Milwaukee; Gil de Ferran (Valvoline/Cummins Special Honda Reynard) at Portland; Christian Fittipaldi (Big Kmart Ford Swift) at Road America and Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard at Toronto).
* Juan Montoya established a CART rookie record for laps led when led 28 Sunday, bringing his total to a series-high 638 laps led for the season, topping the rookie record of 610 laps led established by Alex Zanardi in 1996. Montoya's total also places him seventh in the CART single-season record book, 39 behind sixth-place Al Unser Jr., who led 677 laps in 1994.
* Kanaan became the sixth driver in CART history to earn his first career FedEx Championship Series victory at Michigan Speedway. The others were Pancho Carter in 1981, John Paul Jr. in 1983, Emerson Fittipaldi in 1985, Scott Goodyear in 1992 and Scott Pruett in 1995.
* Kanaan's victory helped Brazil increase its lead in the Nation's Cup competition. Brazil now totals 187 points, while Canada and the four-time defending champion United States are tied for second with 153.
* Kanaan's victory keyed a Honda podium sweep, the third time in the engine manufacturer's six-year history and the second time this season that Honda has swept the podium. Honda's first sweep came at Houston last year where Franchitti, Zanardi and Kanaan finished first through third, respectively. Honda's other podium sweep came at Portland this year with de Ferran, Montoya and Franchitti, finishing first through third, respectively.
* Honda has also won four of the past six 500-mile events contested in the FedEx Championship Series, dating to Jimmy Vasser's victory in The Inaugural U.S. 500 at Michigan Speedway in 1996. The other victories came from Andre Ribeiro in the 1996 Marlboro 500; Zanardi in the 1997 U.S. 500 and Vasser in last year's Marlboro 500 at California Speedway.
* Firestone has now won all eight 500-mile events contested in the FedEx Championship Series since the tire manufacturer returned to CART competition in 1995.
* Andretti, CART's career laps-led leader, led 65 Sunday to go over the 6,000 laps-led mark for his 16-year career. He ended the day with 6,057 laps led, nearly double the career total of second-place Rick Mears, who led 3,286 laps from 1979-92.
* Max Papis (Miller Lite Ford Reynard) led a race-high 143 laps Sunday, the first time he had ever been on the lead in 51 starts in the FedEx Championship Series.
* Mauricio Gugelmin (Hollywood PacWest Mercedes) made his 100th CART career start Sunday on the same day his team, the PacWest Racing Group, celebrated its 100th FedEx Championship Series event. Gugelmin, who qualified 14th, finished finished 22nd, completing 64 of 250 laps before retiring due to lost power.
After three consecutive event weekends, the FedEx Championship Series takes a week off before returning to action for the Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit, Aug. 6-8 at The Raceway on Belle Isle.