Motorola 300 - Round ...
Motorola 300 - Round #6 Gateway International Raceway, Madison, Illinois Shigeaki Hattori - #16 Mercedes-Benz/Reynard/Goodyear
A Finish as Good as a Win!
EPSON Bettenhausen Motorsports rookie driver Shigeaki Hattori finished today's Motorola 300 in 15th position. After a rocky start to CART FedEx Championship Series, Shige and the team were very happy to have completed the entire race distance - a first for the season.
Shige started the race on the final row of the grid in 26th position, was scored as high as 4th place during pit stops, and soldiered around the 1.27-mile oval track for almost three hours, completing eight pit stops and posting a best lap of 26.986 seconds (169.421 mph). The race, won by veteran Michael Andretti, was interrupted by nine yellow caution periods, accounting for 71 of the 236-lap race distance.
"We're very satisfied with Shigeaki's performance today," said Team Owner Tony Bettenhausen. "This track is very similar the oval at Motegi, Japan, where he also ran well. He got faster and faster as the race went on. The unfortunate part is that, since weren't able to test in the off-season, we are testing and racing at the same time. So we're looking forward to Milwaukee next weekend, where hopefully we can build on this momentum."
"I am so thankful," Shigeaki said after the race. "The start of the season has been very tough but the team, the sponsor, my family - everyone has continued to support me. It feels very good!"
Shigeaki had a couple of interesting "moments" during the race, particularly when Alex Barron's engine expired immediately in front of him. "I saw a little puff of smoke from the back of his car," Shige reported. "It was very good that he moved down inside on the track before it blew up completely."
After struggling yesterday with "pick up" on the tires (excess rubber thrown off the tires and then picked up by following cars), today, the team today experienced some inconsistency from the different sets of tires used during the race. "I had a big push at the start of the race," commented Shige. "But the second set of tires we put on really helped. The third set was even better. Then with the fourth set, I picked up a big vibration and it was hard to keep the car straight between the corners! But the team gave me a very good car and the Mercedes-Benz engine was very strong all day."
Next weekend the CART FedEx Championship Series moves to Wisconsin to the famed Milwaukee Mile. Round seven will take place on Sunday, June 6th at 2:00pm local time and will be broadcast on ABC at 4:00pm EDT.