Cut Tire Ends Vasser's Top-10 Run; Late Yellow Costs Gonzalez in Surfers Paradise Showdown
SURFERS PARADISE (October 24, 2004) -- A late yellow flag on Lap 53 of 57 in this afternoon's Lexmark Indy 300 in Surfers Paradise robbed 1996 Australia winner Jimmy Vasser (#12 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) of any hopes for a sixth top-10 showing in his race-record 13th start Down Under. With a 12th place result, the 10-time Champ Car racewinner finished the day directly behind PKV Racing teammate Roberto Gonzalez (#21 NII Holdings, Inc. Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) who also lost positions late in a race that ended under yellow flag conditions.
Vasser, who had just made his third and final pit stop from sixth position on Lap 52, was forced to come back to pit lane after he cut a left front tire while narrowly avoiding Patrick Carpentier's Forsythe Racing machine that lost control in front of the 1996 Series Champion.
"[On the final incident that brought out the yellow flag] I just left the pits and was coming out from my final stop, and had some sand on my tires on the out lap," said Vasser, who maintained his grip on 10th in the championship with 180 markers. "Carpentier made a move on me and came around, but shot across my nose to the left and into the wall. I checked up and managed to stay behind, but it looked as though he didn't have any brakes. After contacting the wall, he looked like a missile going down the track. From there he went out of my view -- I just hope everything's alright."
Gonzalez had a rather uneventful day, but with the help of his #21 crew, was able to move up to 11th after starting the day back in 15th. The rookie was also a victim of the late yellow that flew over the field just after the Mexican made his final stop for tires and fuel.
"We weren't that bad, I think it was more of a case where we were held up in traffic most of the day," said Gonzalez. "We ran a decent pace, keeping our nose clean and trying to run a solid race. The timing of our last stop really hurt us because of the yellow flag that flew right after we left pit lane. My guys did an outstanding job, giving me great stops all day. So now it's onto Mexico City where I hope our luck will change, and we can bring home a good result in my home country."
Next up for PKV Racing is the Champ Car season finale on the unique 2.786-mile permanent road course at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, where 400,000-plus fans will be cheering on Gonzalez in his native land. Catch the PKV duo November 7th (Spike TV, 4:00 pm ET/PT) for Round 14 of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered By Ford, the Gran Premio Telmex-Gigante Presented By Banamex/Visa.