CHAMPCAR/CART: This Week in CART History

This Week in CART History - by Russ Thompson, CART.com historian Long Beach - Aporil 1, 19884 After hosting eight successful races with the Formula One cars, Long Beach promoter Chris Pook rolled the dice and replaced the ...

This Week in CART History - by Russ Thompson, CART.com historian

Long Beach - Aporil 1, 19884 After hosting eight successful races with the Formula One cars, Long Beach promoter Chris Pook rolled the dice and replaced the high-priced international series with the open-wheeled Champ Cars of CART. Mario Andretti began his charge to a fourth national championship by dominating the season opener. Driving a Lola chassis for the Newman/Haas team, Andretti started from the pole and led every lap of the race. Second-place finisher Geoff Brabham was just five seconds away from being lapped when Andretti scored his first Champ Car win at Long Beach to go along with his victory in the F1 race at the same track in 1977. Seven drivers made their first start in the CART series with four of them finishing in the points: Jim Crawford (fourth), Emerson Fittipaldi (fifth), John Morton (ninth), Ed Pimm (12th), Al Holbert, Roberto Guerrero and Bruno Giacomelli. Pook won his gamble. The Long Beach Grand Prix has become the showcase event on the circuit.

Phoenix - April 2, 1995 The Champ Cars made their 22nd and final appearance at Phoenix, the track where it all started back in 1979. For the third time in those 22 races, the track was kind enough to reward a driver with his first career win. Robby Gordon charged past Michael Andretti with six laps to go to join Kevin Cogan and Roberto Guerrero as drivers who claimed their first Champ Car win on the one-mile oval. Andretti, not realizing Gordon was battling him for the lead, held on to finish second by .788 seconds followed by Emerson Fittipaldi. Gordon's win wasn't the only first of the weekend: In qualifying, Bryan Herta became the first driver to officially lap PIR at over 180 mph as he won his first career pole in only his eighth Champ Car start.

Although no one knew it at the time, Mario Andretti earned his 52nd and final victory in Champ Car competition at the one-mile D-shaped oval at Phoenix. He won by more than a lap from Raul Boesel, who equaled his best career finish in the CART series. Paul Tracy led 151 of the first 161 laps before making contact with a lapped car entering Turn 1. Nigel Mansell, Andretti's teammate and winner of the first race of the season in Australia, was unable to make his oval debut after crashing heavily in practice. He wasn't cleared medically to participate in the race. David Kudrave made his series debut with an eighth-place finish.

Source: CART Online

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby Gordon , Michael Andretti , Roberto Guerrero , Raul Boesel , Paul Tracy , Bryan Herta , Nigel Mansell , Mario Andretti , Al Holbert , Emerson Fittipaldi , Bruno Giacomelli , Chris Pook , John Morton , Kevin Cogan , Geoff Brabham , Jim Crawford