Tracy, Fernandez, Papis hog Milwaukee podium; girst Lola points sweep for 2002.
The 110th CART victory for Lola Cars came at the site of its landmark 100th win, as Paul Tracy and the #26 Team KOOL Green Lola/Honda squad parlayed a second starting spot into a convincing victory in the Miller Lite 250 at The Milwaukee Mile. The Canadian led pole man Adrian Fernandez (#51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Lola/Honda) to the checkered flags by a .638-second margin of victory. Max Papis, who started 17th in a 19-car field, brought the #22 Sigma Autosport Lola/Ford home third. Christian Fittipaldi was 4th in the #11 Lilly Lola/Toyota, from 15th starting spot.
"This is the first CART Lola Cars points sweep in a long, long time," noted Daniel S. Partel, president of Lola Cars International Inc. "It's gratifying to see these drivers that have just started using our cars be so successful. Paul Tracy took the win in his 2nd Lola start, Adrian Fernandez was ultra-competitive all weekend, Scott Dixon changed teams and still came 6th in his first #44 Team Target Lola/Toyota drive. Despite no testing in the #10 Pioneer/WorldCom Lola/Honda, Tony Kanaan was in the top five until an oil leak stopped him on lap 92 and Dario Franchitti was competitive in his first Lola drive."
In his seventh Champ Car season, Michel Jourdain Jr. now leads the CART point standings, thanks to a fifth place finish in the #9 Gigante Lola/Ford. "This was a tough race because of the marbles, so I stayed in the groove and tried to be consistent." Jourdain Jr. holds 42 points in the title chase to Franchitti's 35. Tracy and Papis are tied for third with 32 points, while Cristiano da Matta holds fifth place points in his #6 Havoline Lola/Toyota despite fuel pressure trouble.
Tracy assumed the lead at the start and led 185 of 250 laps in the contest, which was interrupted five times by caution. "I'm very motivated," said the 3-time Milwaukee victor, who claimed his first win since Vancouver in 2000. "I'm proud of what my team has done, and we're still beginning to understand the Lola." Fernandez acknowledged his team made the "decision to go with Lola because [co-owner] Don Halliday thought it was best chassis." Papis' second podium (he was third at Long Beach in April) came with only one Lola in the Sigma truck "and no spares at all. We have passion and commitment but very little money. There's lots of pressure but we always come to the track believing in ourselves."
The Champ Cars now travel cross-country to contest the Shell 300 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca June 7-9.