CHAMPCAR/CART: Road America Sunday track notes

Good Morning for Race Day at Road America! It’s another beautiful day here deep in the dells of Central Wisconsin: bright blue skies and cool temperatures. The breeze from the Northeast this morning is half of what the competitors have...

Good Morning for Race Day at Road America! It’s another beautiful day here deep in the dells of Central Wisconsin: bright blue skies and cool temperatures. The breeze from the Northeast this morning is half of what the competitors have experienced all weekend, promising somewhat warmer conditions for the Champ Car fans expected to crowd the 4.048-mile facility today. Today’s CART on-track activities start with the traditional 30-minute morning warm-up session at 9 a.m., followed by the Green Flag for the Motorola 220 at 1 p.m.

GREEN FLAG waves at 9 a.m. to start the final practice session of the weekend. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 69 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 66 degrees F. at the start of the session.

At 9:10 a.m., 10 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #1 MONTOYA with a lap of 134.550 mph (1:48.308), followed by #12X VASSER (134.151 mph; 1:48.630) and #10 GIDLEY (133.848 mph; 1:48.876).

At 9:20 a.m., 20 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #26 TRACY with a lap of 138.720 mph (1:45.052), followed by #33X TAGLIANI (138.240 mph; 1:45.417) and #3X CASTRONEVES (137.600; 1:45.907). BLACK FLAG is shown at 9:24 a.m. to #20X MORENO for a Pit Road speed violation. MORENO subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag drive-thru penalty.

At 9:26 a.m., #8 BRACK becomes the fastest driver of the session with a lap of 139.644 mph (1:44.357) on his ninth circuit. RED and CHECKERED FLAG wave at 9:27 a.m. to end the session after #10 GILDEY spins off of Turn 12 (Station 14) into the grass and stalls the car. There will not be enough time to tend to the stalled car of GIDLEY; therefore, CART Race Control checkers the session. #8 BRACK remains the fastest with his earlier lap of 139.768 mph (1:44.264), followed by #2 de FERRAN (139.478 mph; 1:44.481) and #40X FERNANDEZ (138.937 mph; 1:44.888). The top seven drivers are separated by less than one second in lap times, while the top 16 cars are separated by less than two seconds. FedEx Championship Series drivers introduced 25 cars to the track in this morning’s session with secondary cars utilized by #40X FERNANDEZ, #20X MORENO, #17X GUGELMIN, #33X TAGLIANI, #7X PAPIS, #55X KANAAN, #3X CASTRONEVES, #12X VASSER, #11X FITTIPALDI, and #19X SALLES.

RACE While Champ Car fans await the Green Flag for Sunday's Motorola 220, a historical and statistical evaluation may be in order. Road America has produced unpredictable results over the last five years. A win from the Pole is rare here; once in the last five years and only twice in the last 10 years has the Pole winner come home in first, 1993 with PAUL TRACY and 1995 with Jacques Villeneuve. The average spot on the grid for the winner over the last five years is a 3.4, with a 6.6 for the runner-up and a 6.8 for third place. So your podium should come from the first seven slots. The margin of victory is also all over the board in the last five years: .541 seconds in 1996 to 7.102 seconds in 1998, averaging 3.16 seconds. The podium margin is even wider: 1.4 seconds in 1995 to 43.922 seconds in 1998, averaging 15.77 seconds. The Yellow Flag will fly 3.8 times, with the first Yellow Flag appearing by Lap 14 with an average of 9.4 laps run under the Caution. The average number of cars running at the end is 14.6 with the race taking an average of 1:48.30 to finish. (In 1999, the race was increased from 50 to 55 laps.) But as with love or dynamite, stats can be tricky. Used correctly, they can move mountains; used incorrectly, they can blow your hands off. Good luck in your deliberations!

A Champ Car driver will earn a place in history this weekend by giving the Firestone Racing program its 100th win since the brand returned to the top forms of competition in 1995. To celebrate the 100th modern-era victory, the Bridgestone/Firestone Trust Fund will make a contribution of $10,000 to the winning driver's charity of choice.

"When we returned to Champ Car competition in 1995, none of us imagined we would win 100 races so quickly," said Bridgestone/Firestone Motorsports Director Al Speyer. "We begin the 1995 season as serious underdogs, facing another tire company that was deemed by most in the motorsports community as one very tough competitor. We faced that challenge head-on, confident we had the right people to design and produce tires that could win races. By the end of that first year back, with victories under our belt, it was obvious the Firehawks were going to be a major factor in who made it to victory lane."

At 12:56 p.m., the command "Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!" is given by the Honorary Starter, Bob Growney.

At 12:58 p.m., the CART Pace Car begins to roll, with the field of 25 cars in tow for the first of two Pace Laps. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 93 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 76 degrees F. at the start of the race. This is the hottest track temperature measured this weekend by Firestone.

GREEN FLAG waves at 1:05 p.m. to start the Motorola 220! #27 FRANCHITTI leads the field across the Start/Finish line, followed by #33 TAGLIANI. TAGLIANI passes FRACNHITTI into Turn 1 and takes the lead. #3 CASTRONEVES makes side-to-side contact with #11 FITTIPALDI going into Turn 2 (Station 3) and slides through the gravel trap before continuing on course with some bodywork damage. #2 DE FERRAN slows exiting Turn 9 (Station 11) and subsequently pits with a gearbox problem, retiring from the race due to mechanical.

On Lap 2, #1 MONTOYA gets past #6 ANDRETTI to take fourth place.

On Lap 4, #25 GARCIA JR. pulls off course at Turn 10 (Station 12) and subsequently retires from the race due to a mechanical problem. Also on Lap 4, #34 MARQUES slides through the gravel trap at Turn 10 (Station 12), making light contact with the tire barrier. The driver subsequently retires from the race due to "off course."

On Lap 5, the running order is #33 TAGLIANI leading by 2.582 seconds over #27 FRACNHITTI, followed by #40 FERNANDNEZ, #1 MONTOYA, and #6 ANDRETTI.

On Lap 7, #11 FITTIPALDI completes a pass of teammate #6 ANDRETTI after a furious three-lap battle involving some side-to-side contact to take over fifth place.

On Lap 9, #3 CASTRONEVES pits as the last car on the lead lap.

On Lap 10, the running order is #33 TAGLIANI leading by 3.832 seconds over #27 FRANCHITTI, followed by #40 FERNANDNEZ, 4.912 seconds back, #1 MONTOYA, and #11 FITTIPALDI.

On Lap 14, #10 GIDLEY runs off course at Turn 6 (Station 8) but regains control and pulls back on course.

On Lap 14, #10 GIDLEY, #97 DA MATTA, and #96 SERVIA all pit.

On Lap 15, #27 FRANCHITTI, #40 FERNANDEZ, #1 MONTOYA, #11 FITTIPALDI, and #8 BRACK. MONTOYA short-fuels the car and exits at the same time as #27 FRANCHITTI. The two cars nearly collide on Pit Road while exiting.

On Lap 15, #33 TAGLIANI leads, followed by #6 ANDRETTI and #20 MORENO.

On Lap 16, #33 TAGLIANI and #6 ANDRETTI both pit. TAGLIANI returns to the race in third place while ANDRETTI returns in 12th, evidently having a mechanical problem.

On Lap 17, #6 ANDRETTI pits again and this time retires from the race due to a mechanical problem. MORENO takes the lead while running down Pit Lane.

On Lap 18, #19 SALLES pits with smoke showing from the car and subsequently retires from the race due to a mechanical problem.

On Lap 18, #1 MONTOYA takes the lead as the Pit Sequence sorts itself out, but MONTOYA will have to pit for fuel at least five laps before the other leaders.

On Lap 20, the running order is #1 MONTOYA leading by 6.816 seconds, followed by #33 TAGLIANI, #27 FRANCHITTI, #11 FITTIPALDI, and #40 FERNANDNEZ.

Also on Lap 20, #17 GUGELMIN pulls off course and subsequently retires from the race due to mechanical problem as does #16 JOURDAIN JR.

On Lap 21, #27 FRANCHITTI slides off course at Turn 3 (Station 5) but returns to the course, falling from fourth to 11th in the running order.

On Lap 25, the running order is #1 MONTOYA leading by 9.421 seconds, followed by #33 TAGLIANI, #11 FITTIPALDI, #40 FERNANDEZ, and #20 MORENO.

On Lap 28, #1 MONTOYA pits and hands the lead to #33 TAGLIANI. MONTOYA returns to the race in seventh position.

Also on Lap 28, CART course observers report that #11 FITTIPALDI's car is showing smoke from the rear while at speed on course.

On Lap 30, #1 MONTOYA slows on course with a shifter cable problem and subsequently pits, retiring from the race due to a mechanical problem.

On Lap 30, the running order is #33 TAGLIANI leading by 11.117 seconds over #11 FITTIPALDI, followed by #40 FERNANDEZ, #20 MORENO, and #8 BRACK.

On Lap 31, #11 FITTIPALDI pits with fire showing on the right side of the engine. The crew extinguishes the fire and FITTIPALDI subsequently retires from the race due to a mechanical problem.

Also on Lap 31, fifth-place #8 BRACK and sixth-place #27 FRANCHITTI both pit, returning in fifth and seventh, respectively.

On Lap 33, first-place #33 TAGLIANI and second-place #40 FERNANDEZ both pit, returning to the race in second and third place, respectively.

On Lap 35, the running order is #33 TAGLIANI leading by 5.049 seconds, followed by #26 TRACY (9.436 seconds back), #40 FERNANDEZ, #12 VASSER, and #8 BRACK.

On Lap 38, #33 TAGLIANI pulls off course at Turn 9 and subsequently retires from the race due to a mechanical problem.

On Lap 40, the running order is #26 TRACY leading by 9.760 seconds over #40 FERNANDEZ, followed by #12 VASSER, #8 BRACK, and #20 MORENO.

Also on Lap 40, CART course observers report that the car of #27 FRANCHITTI is starting to show smoke at speed.

On leader Lap 45, #27 FRANCHITTI pulls off course at Station 13 and subsequently retires from the race due to a mechanical problem.

On Lap 45, the running order is #26 TRACY leading by 7.962 seconds over #40 FERNANDEZ (12.639 seconds back), followed by #8 BRACK, #20 MORENO, and #12 VASSER. TRACY pits on Lap 45 and returns to the race in fourth place.

On Lap 46, #97 DA MATTA pulls off course at Turn 10 (Station 12) and subsequently retires from the race due to a mechanical problem.

On Lap 46, first-place #40 FERNANDEZ and second-place #8 BRACK pit and return to the race in third and fourth, respectively. #20 MORENO takes the lead followed by #26 TRACY, but MORENO does not have enough fuel to make it to the end of the race.

On Lap 50, the running order is #20 MORENO leading by 4.039 seconds, followed by #26 TRACY (13.802 seconds back), #40 FERNANDEZ, #8 BRACK, and #12 VASSER.

On Lap 51, #20 MORENO pits and hands the lead to #26 TRACY, followed by #40 FERNANDEZ, and #8 BRACK. MORENO returns to the race in fourth place.

On Lap 52, #26 TRACY leads by 10.669 seconds over #40 FERNANDEZ, followed by #8 BRACK (15.032 seconds behind), #20 MORENO, and #12 VASSER.

On Lap 53, #26 TRACY leads by 9.577 seconds over #40 FERNANDEZ, followed by #8 BRACK (12.898 seconds behind), #20 MORENO, and #12 VASSER.

WHITE FLAG waves on Lap 54 with #26 TRACY leading by 8.490 seconds over #40 FERNANDEZ, followed by #8 BRACK (10.897 seconds behind), #20 MORENO, and #12 VASSER.

CHECKERED FLAG waves on Lap 55 for the winner of the Motorola 220, PAUL TRACY! TRACY comes home 7.450 seconds ahead of ADRIAN FERNANDEZ, followed by KENNY BRACK (8.836 seconds behind), ROBERTO MORENO (23.679 seconds back) and JIMMY VASSER (33.949 seconds back). There were five leaders Sunday swapping the lead 10 times, a near track record. (The 1982 and 1983 races saw 11 lead changes each.) TAGLIANI led the most laps with 23, followed by TRACY with 13, MONTOYA with 11, MORENO with seven, and FERNANDEZ with one. There were 10 cars running at the end, with seven cars on the lead lap. The Yellow Flag stayed stashed in CART Starter Jim Swintal's flag stand all day long. The time of the race was 1 hour, 37 minutes, and 53.681 seconds.

PAUL TRACY wins his second race of the season Sunday, his other coming at Long Beach. This is TRACY's 17th career victory in CART competition and ties him for seventh in CART history with Danny Sullivan. This is TRACY's first win on a permanent road course since Laguna Seca in 1994 and his second victory here at Road America, his other coming in 1993. This is the fifth multiple winner in Road America history.

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ's second-place finish Sunday represents his third consecutive top-five finish here at Road America. FERNANDEZ was fifth in 1998 and third in 1999. FERNANDEZ has scored Championship points in 11 of the last 12 races.

KENNY BRACK winds up third Sunday, logging his seventh top-five finish in 14 starts, including the last three. BRACK has also finished among the top six in all three permanent road course starts this season. BRACK finished sixth at Portland and fifth at Mid-Ohio to go with Sunday's performance.

Popular American driver MEMO GIDLEY came home sixth Sunday, earning the Budweiser Hard Charger Award. Budweiser awards $1,000 and a cold case of Bud to the driver that gains the most positions from start to finish in the race. GIDLEY started 18th in Sunday's Motorola 220 and wins his second consecutive Budweiser Hard Charger Award. GIDLEY also won the award at Mid-Ohio last week. In addition, Sunday represents GIDLEY's best finish in CART competition. GIDLEY has 16 starts to his credit. Only GIDLEY and ADRIAN FERNANDEZ have finished in the points in the last four races.

Quotes from Sunday's top three finishers follow:

PAUL TRACY: "I don't know how we were able to do that today. On the first lap, things were looking good and then I came out of Turn 2 and the thing just shut off. I'm amazed nobody hit me. The guys figured out that it was a bad throttle sensor, and I had to reset everything, which took about 30 or 40 seconds. By the time we got it figured out, I was all by myself. I slid around for the first half a lap. Then Barry came on and motivated me. He said, 'Just run it like qualifying. Just go as hard as you can go for as long as you can go.' I can't explain it. I didn't get angry, didn't get frustrated, I just got into the zone. It's always satisfying to win, but today was one of the most satisfying. Wins that come when you really do it with everything stacked against you -- it's that much sweeter. We definitely got a shot at the championship. We're going to good tracks for me, but they're good for Michael too. He'll definitely be good at Vancouver and at Fontana, but I've won at Laguna and Houston, too. We've had a lot of bad luck and most people would have given up, but we're not ready to give up yet."

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ: "At the start I knew it was going to be interesting. I was right in the gearbox of [Alex] Tagliani and I had to go half-throttle to keep from hitting him. Then, going into Turn 3 I had Helio [Castroneves] on the outside. I think Helio went off there. Then, I went after Michael [Andretti] and when I got by him I was up to third. Then, after that, the race was pretty good. Then I came to lap Oriol Servia when I was battling Paul. He was holding me up for a few laps and Paul got past me. I knew Kenny was coming hard and Jimmy Vasser, but I managed to extend my gap, and then we decided not to change tires on our last pit stop. I think if you finish in the top five in the rest of the races you've got a good shot at the championship. There's so many things that can happen, but if you stay in the top five, good shot."

KENNY BRACK: "I think we've done well. We were sixth in Portland and second in Cleveland, so I think we've done better on the road courses than the ovals this year. I almost hit Paul at the start, and then I saw the other Team KOOL Green car go off later on. I tried to give Paul a harder time towards the end, but he was strong. We did a good job going from ninth to third today. We haven't seen the upcoming courses so it's hard to say what's going to happen. If you judge by the previous courses we haven't seen, we've done pretty well. We've been very, very close, but haven't gotten to the line first yet. That's still my goal, but I think we can stay in the championship."

The official top-six in CART Championship Series Championship Points is as follows: MICHAEL ANDRETTI with 125, ROBERTO MORENO with 112, GIL DE FERRAN with 106, ADRIAN FERNANDEZ with 103, KENNY BRACK with 102, and PAUL TRACY with 100. The top six are separated by 25 points.

Sunday represents Honda's 51st Champ Car win in 120 races since the manufacturer entered Champ Car competition at the start of the 1994 season. This also represents the third win for Honda in the last five years here at Road America. Alex Zanardi won in 1997 and DARIO FRANCHITTI in 1998. This is the sixth win for Honda this season.

PAUL TRACY earns the 100th victory for Firestone Sunday and, as promised, Firestone is going to donate $10,000 to TRACY's favorite charity. And that charity, of course, would be the Greg Moore Foundation, which honors the memory of the late race driver and fellow Canadian. Congratulations are in order for both Firestone and PAUL TRACY.

CART Chief Steward Kirk Russell announced after the race that #97 CRISTIANO DA MATTA has been excluded from the Motorola 220 for a pit safety violation. Da Matta was excluded for injuring a crew member during a routine pit stop during the event. Right rear tire changer Robby Maschhaupt sustained a knee injury as a result of the incident that occurred upon da Matta's entry into his pit on Lap 14. Maschhaupt continued in the pits but later went for evaluation at the CART Mobile Medical Facility. He is expected to go for further evaluation and a MRI on his knee. Da Matta, who had finished 13th after completing 43 of 55 laps, will be credited with only the 14 laps completed prior to the incident and his official finish will be 22nd.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Jacques Villeneuve , Jimmy Vasser , Alex Zanardi , Oriol Servia , Danny Sullivan , Greg Moore