Juan Montoya became the ninth driver to follow his Indianapolis 500 victory with a win the following week at historic Milwaukee Mile as the 1999 CART champion claimed Monday's Miller Lite 225, round six of the FedEx Championship Series.
Juan Montoya became the ninth driver to follow his Indianapolis 500 victory with a win the following week at historic Milwaukee Mile as the 1999 CART champion claimed Monday's Miller Lite 225, round six of the FedEx Championship Series. Polesitter Montoya led 179 of 225 laps and finished 1.015 seconds ahead of Michael Andretti under bright sunshine which belied the 24 hours of rain that delayed the oval-track contest from its original Sunday start.
With a new aerodynamic wing package mandated by CART this year for short ovals, the field of 23 competitors experienced difficulty with turbulence; hence passing was minimal throughout the race. Tony Kanaan, driving the Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Mercedes, was the top finisher for Mercedes-Benz in 10th place.
"I had a well-balanced car today, especially in the early part of the race. But as the wind picked up, the rear end kept getting lighter, and you just couldn't put your foot in the throttle coming out of the turns. Running by yourself, it was okay, but in traffic, you just couldn't get around anybody. It was frustrating. I gained some positions by really pushing it on cold tires coming out of the pits. Otherwise, there was nothing you could do."
Mauricio Gugelmin, coming off an impressive second-place finish at Nazareth last weekend, had a fast car in practice sessions, and topped the time sheets in the warm up. Starting from eighth position, the PacWest Nextel Mercedes driver aimed to save fuel and use his well-balanced race car to slash to the front in the closing segment of the contest. But on his second pit stop, Gugelmin slid into the left front tire in his pit box, losing valuable time. Exiting the pit, leader Montoya got by him, putting Gugelmin a lap down. When the yellow flag then came out on lap 184 for Tarso Marques' crash, the leaders * who were low on fuel at that point * had enough methanol to last until the checkered flag. With these circumstances, Gugelmin was denied a competitive finish.
"I saved so much fuel and did everything right," said a frustrated Gugelmin. "It just didn't work out. That yellow flag screwed me up. Without that yellow, those guys would have needed a splash of fuel, while my Mercedes was making such great mileage that I could have kept on going."
Mark Blundell raced as high as fourth position in his PacWest Motorola Mercedes with an out-of-sequence pit strategy, and finished 17th. Michel Jourdain Jr. was 18th in his Herdez/Bettenhausen Mercedes, while Luiz Garcia Jr. (Arciero Hollywood Mercedes) retired on lap 115 with an oil leak and was 21st.
The FedEx Championship Series heads to Detroit, Mich., for the Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit on June 18 (ESPN, 1:00 p.m. ET).
<pre> Results, Miller Lite 225 West Allis, Wis. June 5, 2000
Pos. Driver Engine Laps 1 Juan Montoya Toyota 225 2 Michael Andretti Ford Cosworth 225 3 Patrick Carpentier Ford Cosworth 225 4 Kenny Brack Ford Cosworth 225 5 Roberto Moreno Ford Cosworth 225 6 Dario Franchitti Honda 225 7 Max Papis Ford Cosworth 225 8 Adrian Fernandez Ford Cosworth 225 9 Christian Fittipaldi Ford Cosworth 225 10 Tony Kanaan Mercedes-Benz 225 11 Mauricio Gugelmin Mercedes-Benz 224 17 Mark Blundell Mercedes-Benz 224 18 Michel Jourdain Jr. Mercedes-Benz 224 21 Luiz Garcia Jr. Mercedes-Benz 115
Driver's Championship Manufacturer's Championship
Paul Tracy 59 Ford Cosworth 104 Roberto Moreno 52 Honda 96 Jimmy Vasser 48 Toyota 92 Juan Montoya 44 Mercedes-Benz 34 Toyota Michael Andretti 44