LEXINGTON, Ohio (August 13, 2000) - Marlboro Team Penske teammates Helio Castroneves and Gil de Ferran steered clear of the misfortunes that befell a number of other competitors Sunday to post the team's first one-two finish since 1994 in the...
LEXINGTON, Ohio (August 13, 2000) - Marlboro Team Penske teammates Helio Castroneves and Gil de Ferran steered clear of the misfortunes that befell a number of other competitors Sunday to post the team's first one-two finish since 1994 in the Miller Lite 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard) was extremely dominant en route to his second FedEx Championship Series victory of the season and the second of his career by finishing 4.425 seconds ahead of de Ferran in the 13th of 20 rounds in this year's championship. In so doing, the Penske teammates delivered the team's first one-two finish since Paul Tracy and Al Unser Jr. finished first and second, respectively, at Nazareth in 1994.
Castroneves allowed Honda to reach a milestone as the engine manufacturer notched its 50th victory in its seven-year history in the FedEx Championship Series.
Castroneves, whose first career triumph came at Detroit in June, took the lead on the 29th of 83 laps from his Marlboro Team Penske teammate and was never challenged en route to the checkered flag. He averaged 107.75 miles per hour while recording his third podium finish of the season, which also includes a runner-up effort at Long Beach. De Ferran and Castroneves were the only lap leaders in the event as de Ferran led the first 28 laps of the event from the pole and Castroneves the final 55.
De Ferran (Marlboro Honda Reynard), meanwhile, collected his fourth podium of the campaign, adding to victories at Nazareth and Portland and a third-place performance at Chicago. The 17 points he collected over the weekend, including one for winning the pole position Saturday, moved him from third to second in the championship, passing Roberto Moreno of Patrick Racing, with 106 points.
Castroneves improved from 12th to eighth in the championship race with his 21-point performance. His 77 points move him to 11 behind fourth-place rookie Kenny Brack of Team Rahal, who has 88.
Michael Andretti (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola) of Newman/Haas Racing continues as the championship leader with 125 points. He finished eighth for his 10th points-paying result in the past 11 events, including victories at Japan and Toronto.
Sunday's podium was rounded out by Andretti's Newman/Haas teammate, Christian Fittipaldi (Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford Lola), whose third-place effort matched a season best established at Portland.
Max Papis (Miller Lite Ford Reynard) and Brack (Shell Ford Reynard) helped make it a stellar day for Ohio-based Team Rahal by finishing fourth and fifth, respectively. It was Papis' best performance since a runner-up effort at Detroit while Brack delivered the seventh top-six performance in his past 10 starts.
Moreno (Visteon Ford Reynard) finished 11th, scoring for the fourth time in six starts, but dropped to third in the championship with 100 points. Brack is fourth with 88 while Adrian Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford Reynard), Moreno's Patrick Racing teammate, improves from sixth to fifth with 87 points following Sunday's sixth-place performance.
HELIO CASTRONEVES, Marlboro Honda Reynard: "Gil was tough at the start. It was going to be tough to pass him, so I just tried to stay with him because I knew we both had good cars and we could go away from the field. That was the most difficult part for me. I didn't say a word on the radio the whole race to save energy. This race track is very tough and I was just trying to stay focused. The guys did a fantastic job on the pit stops. I was doing a little bit better with my health today, and I got stronger as the race went on. I didn't have much of a problem with traffic. Towards the end when the full-course yellows came out, I just tried to stay focused and bring it home."
GIL de FERRAN, Marlboro Honda Reynard: "It's a great day for the whole team. Obviously, I'm happy to be up here on the podium. I didn't have enough to beat Helio, and had some of my own problems today, but today's performance is good and it bodes well for next week at Elkhart Lake. We were trying to save as much fuel at the beginning of the race. I could tell Helio would be tough. He was able to deal with traffic very quickly and go away, and it took me forever to deal with it. By the time I got through the traffic, he was 15 seconds up the road. On the last restart, I couldn't get past [Roberto] Moreno and [Oriol] Servia. They weren't slow, and they were not going to stop in the middle of the track to let me have a go at Helio. >From then on, I just tried not to make a mistake."
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford Lola: "We obviously had a very good weekend. My car was good the whole weekend. We didn't change a lot from Friday to Saturday, we just lacked a little downforce. Hats off to Penske. It's obviously frustrating when it's pretty visible that their machines were better today. We've all got to get our act together to catch up. It's also great to finish first in class, and I had a nice dice with [Max] Papis and [Kenny] Brack. I was pretty happy with my day today. We just have to do our homework a little better and go on to the next one."
The victory by Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard) marked the first time two Marlboro Team Penske drivers have scored multiple victories in a season since 1994 when Al Unser Jr. won eight events - tying a CART single-season record - and Paul Tracy won three. Team Penske's Gil de Ferran has been victorious at Nazareth and Portland while Castroneves' earlier victory came at Detroit.
Gil de Ferran's (Marlboro Honda Reynard) runner-up effort marked a career-best performance in six starts at Mid-Ohio, exceeding sixth in 1997 and last year. He has scored championship points in five of six road/street course starts this season, including finishes of seventh at Long Beach, ninth at Detroit, a victory at Portland and sixth at Toronto.
With his third-place effort, Christian Fittipaldi (Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford Lola) has finished on the podium in his last three starts on permanent road courses. He recorded his first career victory at Road America last season and finished third at Portland this year, a season-high result he matched Sunday.
Honda-powered drivers have now won four of the past five FedEx Championship Series events contested at Mid-Ohio, getting victories from Alex Zanardi in 1996 and '97 and Juan Montoya last year.
Castroneves' victory was the 36th for a graduate of the Dayton Indy Lights championship since Paul Tracy claimed the first victory for Lights grad at Long Beach in 1993. It was also the second win in succession for a Lights alum, following Cristiano da Matta's (Pioneer/MCI WorldCom Toyota Reynard) first career triumph at Chicago Motor Speedway two weeks ago.
Adrian Fernandez' (Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford Reynard) sixth-place finish marked his fifth top-six effort in six career starts at Mid-Ohio. The others were a victory in 1998, fourth in 1995 and sixth in 1994 and '96.
Patrick Carpentier (Player's Forsythe Racing Team Ford Reynard) finished seventh for his eighth points-paying result in 10 starts this season. He is 10th in the championship with 71 points despite missing events at Long Beach, Rio de Janeiro and Japan due to a small fracture of the left wrist in an accident at his Las Vegas home.
The Miller Lite 200 marked the first time this season that three rookies finished in the top 10 at a FedEx Championship Series event. Kenny Brack (Shell Ford Reynard) of Team Rahal led the way by finishing fifth, his seventh top-six performance in his past 10 starts. Alex Tagliani (Player's Forsythe Racing Team Ford Reynard) of Player's Forsythe Racing finished ninth while Oriol Servia (Telefonica Toyota Reynard) of PPI Motorsports finished 10th. Brack continues as the leader in the chase for the Jim Trueman Rookie of the Year Award, holding an 88-44 championship points lead over Tagliani.
Memo Gidley (DIRECTV Toyota Reynard) recorded his third consecutive points-paying result in as many starts for Della Penna Motorsports by taking 12th place. Gidley, who was announced last week as Della Penna's driver for the remainder of the FedEx Championship Series season, also finished 10th in his earlier starts at Michigan and Chicago. Gidley also collected the Budweiser Hard Charger Award for the Miller Lite 200 for showing the greatest improvement from start (23rd) to finish in the 25-driver field, an improvement of 11 positions.
The FedEx Championship Series continues with Round 14, the Motorola 220, next Sunday, August 20, at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis.