Texaco/Havoline 200 It Ain't Over Till It's Over Al Unser Jr. (August 12, 1998) -- A mere four times in 20 FedEx Championship Series seasons has a driver led only the final lap of a race en route to victory. Two of those four occasions have...
It Ain't Over Till It's Over Al Unser Jr.
(August 12, 1998) -- A mere four times in 20 FedEx Championship Series seasons has a driver led only the final lap of a race en route to victory. Two of those four occasions have occurred at Road America, and the Unsers, one of the first families of racing have been victimized both times.
On September 19, 1982, Mexican Hector Rebaque earned the only victory of his FedEx Championship Series career when Al Unser ran out of fuel on the final lap of the Road America 200. Rebaque was the only one of 25 starters to complete all 50 laps, winning by a full lap, plus 2 minutes, 7.32 seconds.
The finish of the Texaco/Havoline 200 at Road America on August 18, 1996 was even more dramatic as Al Unser Jr., just half a lap from his first victory in a year, incurred an engine failure and Michael Andretti inherited the lead and the victory.
"I've had a few lucky wins in my career, but my luckiest win was at Road America," Andretti said. "Winning it the way we did was so unexpected. It was a strange feeling. I felt bad for Al because I've been there. I knew exactly how he felt and it's not a good feeling. I've lost some [races] that way, so it was good to get one back."
Unser Jr. (Marlboro Penske Mercedes) is second to Andretti (Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Swift Ford) in all-time FedEx Championship Series victories, with 31, but he hasn't reached the top step of the podium since that golden opportunity of 1996 went a-glimmering.
"I love Road America as a track," says Unser Jr., who owns nine top-10 finishes - but no victories - in 15 career starts at Elkhart Lake. "I love driving it. It demands a lot of respect. Road America has broken my leg and it's broken my heart - all the way back to my Can-Am days. It's one of those places I look forward to going to, because I want to win there."
Unser Jr. came out on the winning end while leading only the final lap of a FedEx Championship Series race in 1996 at Miami when Roberto Guerrero ran out of fuel on the final lap. Guerrero, who had built nearly a two-lap advantage on the remainder of the field, is the only driver in CART history to lead all but the final lap of a race.
Source: CART Online