PORTLAND, Ore. (June 25, 2000) - Gil de Ferran of Marlboro Team Penske became the first repeat winner of the FedEx Championship Series season as well as the first since 1995 at Portland International Raceway on Sunday when he drove to victory in...
PORTLAND, Ore. (June 25, 2000) - Gil de Ferran of Marlboro Team Penske became the first repeat winner of the FedEx Championship Series season as well as the first since 1995 at Portland International Raceway on Sunday when he drove to victory in the Freightliner/G.I. Joe's 200 Presented by Texaco.
De Ferran (Marlboro Honda Reynard) coupled an earlier victory at Nazareth Speedway - the 100th in Marlboro Team Penske history - with a repeat win in the 112-lap test on the 1.969-mile permanent road course to become the season's first multiple winner after the season opened with seven different winners.
His performance keyed the first podium sweep by Brazilian drivers in CART history as countrymen Roberto Moreno of Patrick Racing and Christian Fittipaldi of Newman/Haas Racing joined him on the podium. Moreno (Visteon Ford Reynard) equaled his career best with a runner-up finish and took the championship lead for the first time in his seven-year career. Fittipaldi (Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford Lola) finished third to become the 15th different podium finisher in the season's first eight events.
De Ferran, who started on the outside pole, took the lead for good on Lap 105 when teammate Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard), the polesitter who led a race-high 85 laps, had to make a third and final fuel stop. He went on to a 2.625-second victory, the fifth of his six-year career, en route to becoming the first repeat winner at Portland International Raceway since Al Unser Jr. in 1994-95. He won last season's event while driving for Walker Racing.
>From the outset, Castroneves, who claimed his first career victory last Sunday at Detroit, sprinted to the front, leading 70 of the first 71 laps. Moreno, who led the other lap among the first 71, then took over from Laps 72-74 during the second round of pit stops. When Moreno pitted on Lap 75, de Ferran took his first lead, which he held until making a splash-and-go stop on Lap 89.
Castroneves reassumed the lead at that point, holding it for 15 more laps (90-104) until needing to make his final stop. De Ferran, able to go the distance, took over to bring Honda power its fourth victory of the season and third in four events, dating to de Ferran's win at Nazareth.
In scoring his seventh top-10 finish in eight events to date, Moreno moved to 68 points, one ahead of de Ferran, who stands second with 67. Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard) of Team KOOL Green, whose 59 points entering the weekend led all drivers, went scoreless for the third straight event and fell to third.
Fittipaldi's third-place result was a season best, eclipsing fifth at Rio de Janeiro. Rounding out the top five finishers were Michael Andretti (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola) of Newman Haas Racing, who was fourth and Cristiano da Matta (Pioneer/MCI WorldCom Toyota Reynard), who finished fifth. Both drivers recorded their third top-five finishes of the campaign.
GIL de FERRAN, Marlboro Honda Reynard: "The car improved after the first stop, and I was able to start closing up ground on the leaders. After the second stop, the car was really fantastic, and Roger just said 'Go.' So I just kept pushing harder and harder and the car just kept going quicker and quicker and quicker. I knew those guys in front of me had to stop, so I just kept biding my time."
ROBERTO MORENO, Visteon Ford Reynard: "What can I say? It was a great day for the Visteon guys again. We tried to be in touch with the leaders while saving fuel. Unfortunately, on the last stop, it took about twice as long to put in fuel, so that might have made a difference in the outcome. But it was a great race strategy once again. It was a great day and my guys did a great job."
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford Lola: "I really had to earn my money today. It was pretty tough. I wanted to turn the first corner behind the two Marlboro cars [Castroneves and de Ferran], but I braked a little too late and flat-spotted my tires, literally down to the cords. I'm happy to finish on the podium after a bunch of races that looked good but didn't go my way. I'm definitely happy to finish on the podium today."
Juan Montoya (Target Toyota Lola) of Target Chip Ganassi Racing failed to lead a lap Sunday, marking the first time he had failed to lead at least one lap in his past five FedEx Championship Series starts. Montoya had led a combined 521 laps at Japan, Nazareth, Milwaukee and Detroit, respectively, prior to Sunday.
Gil de Ferran's (Marlboro Honda Reynard) victory Sunday enabled Honda to take the lead from Ford in the CART Manufacturer's Championship. Honda, which trailed Ford, 120-116 entering Sunday's event, now holds a 138-136 Manufacturer's Championship lead following de Ferran's win and single points from Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard) for winning the pole and leading the most laps. Ford was buoyed by Roberto Moreno's (Visteon Ford Reynard) runner-up effort.
Christian Fittipaldi (Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford Lola) of Newman/Haas Racing became the 15th different podium finisher in the season's first eight events when he took third place. The FedEx Championship Series had 16 different podium finishers during the entire 1999 campaign, and the series record for different podium finishers is 17, established in 1995 (17 events) and matched in 1996 (16 events)
Patrick Carpentier of Player's Forsythe Racing Team, who finished 10th, was fined $10,000 by CART Chief Steward J. Kirk Russell for failure to follow the instructions of race officials in regard to yielding to the leaders - Gil de Ferran and Roberto Moreno - near the close of the event.
Four of the top six contenders for the FedEx Championship Series championship went scoreless, including leader Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard), who remained at 59 points after finishing 18th due to contact. Other championship leaders who failed to score included Jimmy Vasser (Target Toyota Lola), who held at 54 points after finishing 24th; Max Papis, who remained at 47 points after finishing 25th, and Montoya, who stayed at 46 points after finishing 17th.
Rookie Shinji Nakano (Avex Honda Reynard) earned the Budweiser Hard Charger Award, given to the driver who improves the most from start to finish at each FedEx Championship Series event. He earned 10 Budweiser Hard Charger points for improving from a 21st-place start to an 11th-place finish.
Bryan Herta (Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Mercedes Reynard) finished 16th while substituting for the injured Tony Kanaan, who is recuperating from injuries sustained during a qualifying accident at Detroit last weekend. Herta, who started 20th, is expected to remain in the Mo Nunn Racing entry for upcoming FedEx Championship Series events at Cleveland next weekend and Toronto (July 16).
When Jimmy Vasser departed due to contact after completing one lap, it marked his first exit on a road or street course this season. Vasser had completed every lap of competition in earlier events at Long Beach and Detroit. The early exits by teammate Juan Montoya and Vasser marked the first time both Target Chip Ganassi Racing entries had failed to finish a FedEx Championship Series event since last year at Australia.
Rookie Oriol Servia (Telefonica Toyota Reynard) of PPI Motorsports turned in an outstanding drive to eighth place, his third consecutive top-eight finish in road or street course competition. Servia finished sixth in the first road/street course event of the season at Long Beach and earned the first podium finish of his career with a third-place result at Detroit last week.
The FedEx Championship Series continues with its third event in as many weeks, the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Firstar, Sunday, July 2, at Burke Lakefront Airport on the shores of Lake Erie in Cleveland.