Franchitti Second And Tracy Eighth In Mexico
MONTERREY, Mexico - Both Team KOOL Green drivers scored points today in the season-opening race in the 2002 CART FedEx Championship in Monterrey, Mexico, as Dario Franchitti drove to an impressive second-place finish, while teammate Paul Tracy came home eighth.
Franchitti combined a strong drive with good pit work from his Team KOOL Green crew to begin his season with a podium appearance and 16 points towards his goal of winning the championship.
Tracy's day was much more eventful. From his 19th-place starting position he spun in Turn One on the first lap and had a fuel tank pick-up problem that forced him to stop for fuel outside of his pit window twice. Tracy ended up making five pit stops, while the rest of the front-runners only made three. In spite of the extra stops, Tracy finished eighth, scoring five points.
Cristiano da Matta successfully defended his Monterrey race win, finishing 1.679 seconds ahead of Franchitti. Christian Fittipaldi finished third to join da Matta and Franchitti on the podium.
Team KOOL Green's next stop is the streets of downtown Long Beach for the Long Beach Grand Prix, April 12-14.
Paul Tracy -- #26 KOOL Honda-Reynard-Bridgestone
"Team KOOL Green gave me one of the best cars out there today, but we had a couple of problems that cost us a lot of points. The car was really fast, the Honda engine was strong, the Bridgestone tires were great, and my fitness was good. I felt really good in the car and was strong all the way through. But you just can't afford any mistakes in this game and you certainly can't afford to make five pit stops to everyone else's three. And on that last stop we were just outside our fuel window when we ran into a fuel tank pick-up problem just before the pit entrance, so I came right in. (Tracy stopped on lap 56 and he needed to go until at least lap 58 per a new CART rule that specifies maximum number of laps between pit stops. The rule specified a maximum of 27 laps this weekend.) "
Championship Standing: 8th
John Anderson, Team KOOL Green Race Consultant:
"We had a couple of problems today. The first one was on the start down in turn one when Paul (Tracy) spun and got hit from behind. We had to come in for a safety check. Then we had a fuel tank pick-up problem and had to come in a few laps before our final fuel window opened and that cost us another extra pit stop. It's a bloody shame because Paul drove so well today. He really deserved to be up there on the podium with Dario. We're not sure what the fuel problem was. We've run it out of fuel and know it can pick up all the way, so we've got some problem in the tank."
Dario Franchitti - 27 KOOL Honda-Reynard-Bridgestone
"It was a hard race today. But it feels very satisfying to push so hard and come home second. If the rest of the season is like this, it's going to be a great year! If we continue this form, we can win a load of races. That's what we're here for. We've just got to keep pushing. Everyone associated with Team KOOL Green did a good job today, but the folks at Honda, Reynard and Bridgestone have really helped us. We've been working really hard with them and hopefully we're going to see more benefits from that in the next few races."
Laps Led: 1
Championship Standing: 2nd
Allen McDonald, Dario Franchitti's Race Engineer:
"This was my first race with Dario and Team KOOL Green and I'd like to think we'll be able to duplicate this performance a lot this year, maybe even improve a position and get some wins. Seriously, Dario did a fantastic job today. He was pushing it 10/10ths the whole way and never put a wheel wrong. I really think he could have challenged Cristiano (da Matta) for the win there in the end, but we had a lapped car in between us and didn't get any help."