HOMESTEAD, Fla., (March 26, 1999) -- Never giving up this race weekend, Paul Tracy and Dario Franchitti fought through handling problems to score some big points in the season-opening Grand Prix of Miami. Tracy clawed his way up from 17th to...
HOMESTEAD, Fla., (March 26, 1999) -- Never giving up this race weekend, Paul Tracy and Dario Franchitti fought through handling problems to score some big points in the season-opening Grand Prix of Miami. Tracy clawed his way up from 17th to finish on the podium in third, while Franchitti climbed from 22nd to finish 11th.
Tracy actually looked like he might win the race, taking over the lead after rookie Alex Tagliani was moved to the back of the lead lap for passing the pace car during the second caution of the race. Tracy moved into the lead for the first time on lap 109. For the next 32 laps, Tracy worked his way through traffic with Max Papis nipping at his heals. With just nine laps to go, Tracy was forced to slow for lapped cars and Papis powered by along the front straight. Roberto Moreno also took advantage, passing Tracy on the same lap (141). Papis led the rest of the way for his first career Champ Car victory, 0.620 seconds ahead of Moreno. Tracy also earned the Budweiser Hard Charger Award for making the biggest improvement in track position from the beginning to the end of the race (Started 17th / Finished 3rd).
Franchitti's race was spent fighting for championship points and answering questions of whether he had recuperated fully from his injuries suffered at Spring Training. He moved up steadily from the 22nd position on the grid to 13th by lap 50. After the second round of pit stops, Franchitti was 11th where he remained to the finish.
Round 2 of the CART FedEx Championship Series moves next to Andretti country and the one-mile oval at Nazareth Speedway for the Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix, Apr. 7-9.
PAUL TRACY, #26 TEAM KOOL GREEN HONDA/REYNARD/FIRESTONE: (Started 17th / Finished 3rd ; Currently 3rd in the standings with 14 points)
"We had the chance to win this thing, but I'm really happy to get third when we had a 10th place car. We didn't have a great car, but my guys were fantastic with the pit stops. We made great time on my in and out laps, which really bumped us up. I've got to thank the guys at Team KOOL Green. They did their job and made the car a lot better for me today. It's great to get big points at the first race.
"It's always difficult to move up through the field because the pace at the back is the same as the front. I did my fastest laps when I was about 13th or 14th, rather than when I was leading. The field is really competitive and I owe this result to the crew. I know in my heart of hearts everyone on my team are fighters and this team doesn't give up. Never count Paul Tracy out."
DARIO FRANCHITTI, #27 TEAM KOOL GREEN HONDA/REYNARD/FIRESTONE: (Started 22nd / Finished 11th ; Currently 11th in the standings with 2 points)
"It was a pretty long day out there. The KOOL car was good on its own, but bad in traffic. That's how the leaders managed to put me down a lap. It was frustrating, but it was good to get the mileage. I think it will help us going into Nazareth, having tested really good there. We'll look for a better result there.
"I felt fine, except for a small bump when they dropped the car off the airjacks and it bottomed out pretty hard. I leaned heavily on the area of my injury and I felt it. After that though, it wasn't a problem and I'm feeling fine. I feel as good after the race as I did when the race started."