Big Kmart/Route 66 driver Christian Fittipaldi was in third place on lap 61 of 84 when he came alongside the lapped car of Mark Blundell and recovered control of his car after the two touched wheels. Immediately after that Gil de Ferran ran...
Big Kmart/Route 66 driver Christian Fittipaldi was in third place on lap 61 of 84 when he came alongside the lapped car of Mark Blundell and recovered control of his car after the two touched wheels. Immediately after that Gil de Ferran ran into the back of his car as a result of late braking and pushed all three into the tire barriers in turn 12.
Helio Castroneves scored his first CART victory and finished ahead of Max Papis, whom Fittipaldi had ran ahead of before the accident. On the first lap, Fittipaldi jumped from his eighth place start into sixth on a track known to be one of the most difficult to pass on. He held sixth place until fifth place runner Cristiano da Matta dropped out of the race with mechanical failure. He ran in fifth place and conserved fuel until his first pit stop on lap 28. He returned to the track and regained his position after the stops were completed. He held fifth place and built a two second lead on Max Papis while again conserving fuel. He moved into fourth place on lap 48 when frontrunner Dario Franchitti dropped back. He held his position until his second and final stop on lap 57.
After a flawless stop, he was leaving pit lane and was able to pass previous third place runner Gil de Ferran who was trying to leave his pit box when Paul Tracy pit next to him. He ran in fourth place until race leader Roberto Moreno, who had not made his second stop, pit on lap 60. Also on lap 60, race leader Juan Montoya pit and subsequently retired moving Fittipaldi up one position into second for a brief time before his race was ended. Fittipaldi was passing the lapped car of Mark Blundell going into turn 12 and was on the inside line of the track going into the corner and the two made slight contact. Fittipaldi regained control of his racecar but was immediately hit from behind by Gil de Ferran who braked too late entering the corner. All three cars went into the runoff area with Fittipaldi's ending up in the tire wall. Both de Ferran and Blundell were able to get restarted and ultimately score points toward the championship. Fittipaldi finished 19th. Following are his post race comments:
"I would have been okay after Blundell touched me but Gil took me out," said Fittipaldi. "Everything was under control at that point. What pushed me into the tires was Gil. He braked way too late and ran into the back of me. The car was dreadful. It was sliding all over the place but I was just hanging in there looking at a podium finish in the least. We were ahead of Max who finished second so the points would have been nice. It was really important to run well here for Kmart. We did run well until Gil ran into me. The competition is tough and you need to bring the car home with as many points as possible and that was looking within our reach."
Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline driver Michael Andretti ran as high as sixth place and was in seventh when his engine lost power after 80 of 84 laps in the Tenneco Automotive Detroit Grand Prix. After starting in 11th place, Andretti passed Patrick Carpentier for 10th on the first lap. Shortly thereafter, he reported to the pits that the car was handling very badly. On lap 11, he spun in turn four but regained control and dropped to 12th place. He moved into 11th place when previous fifth place runner Cristiano da Matta retired from the race on lap 15. He made his first pit stop on lap 29 but was given a penalty for speeding while entering the pits. He served his drive through penalty and returned to the race in 13th place but moved into 12th on lap 32 when Adrian Fernandez spun on course.
He held 11th place until his second and final pit stop on lap 59. He returned to the race in the same position but moved into seventh place when race leader Montoya pit with a problem and Fittipaldi, de Ferran and Blundell came into contact. He passed Alex Tagliani for sixth place but was passed back one lap later on lap 69. He was in seventh place on lap 80 when his engine lost power. Following are his post race comments:
"The car was terrible and I was just holding on," said Andretti. "I had my finger on the button of the pit lane control and it felt like it cut out. We were able to come back after the drive through and were running in seventh until the engine let go. At the end, I was driving on flatspotted tires after I was trying to hold off Tagliani and got sideways. This was an important race for the Big Kmart Texaco/Havoline team and we struggled all weekend. It was frustrating but we will have to work even harder in the next few days to get ready for Portland and be competitive off the truck."
Next on the Schedule: Round 8 of 20 in the CART FedEx Championship series takes place next weekend. The Freightliner/G.I. Joe's Portland Grand Prix will be held on June 25.