FRANCHITTI SCORES SECOND PODIUM FINISH OF THE SEASON
CLEVELAND, Oh., (July 12, 1998) - Team KOOL Green's Dario Franchitti finished third at today's 100-lap Cleveland Grand Prix behind runner-up Michael Andretti and race winner Alex Zanardi. It was Zanardi's third consecutive victory, as the Italian extended his lead for the overall drivers' championship.
Starting alongside Jimmy Vasser on the pole, Franchitti began his second consecutive race from the front row. On the opening lap however, Zanardi passed Franchitti, as did his teammate, Paul Tracy. On lap 12, Zanardi passed Vasser for the lead, followed soon after by both KOOL cars. The first full course yellow came out on the 27th lap with Zanardi leading Tracy, Al Unser Jr. and Franchitti respectively into the pits.
Zanardi left in the lead, while Tracy and Unser sprinted alongside each other toward the pit lane exit. Their cars touched, causing Unser to spin and stall on pit lane. On lap 41, CART officials informed Team KOOL Green that Tracy had to serve a 10-second black flag penalty for the incident. Tracy pitted on lap 43, rejoining the race in 19th position. Working his way back up to 15th, Tracy's race ended with three laps remaining when he spun into a tire barrier in Turn 8.
Franchitti, meanwhile, had slipped to 7th when his teammate was being penalized. The Scotsman fought his way to fourth after the third round of pit stops under green. Franchitti was chasing race leader Christian Fittipaldi who was employing a different fuel strategy, followed by Zanardi and Michael Andretti. Fittipaldi gave up the lead with 11 laps to go when he stopped for fuel. Putting pressure on Andretti to the end, Franchitti could not overtake, as Zanardi cruised to his fifth win of the season.
Points leader Zanardi has a comfortable cushion, leading the championship with 155 points. Greg Moore, with 96 points, remains his closest challenger despite exiting today's race early. Vasser is third overall with 92 points, followed by Adrian Fernande z with 85, and Andretti with 68. Franchitti stands sixth overall with 64 points, while Tracy is 13th with 32.
DARIO FRANCHITTI, #27 TEAM KOOL GREEN REYNARD/HONDA/FIRESTONE: (Started 2nd / Finished 3rd; Currently 6th with 64 points in the standings)
"At the end, I didn't have anything left for Michael. The one place I needed to be quicker, I couldn't get him. That's in the hairpin (Turn 1) and on through Turn 2. It was a great effort from all the Team KOOL Green guys. We drove a conservative race , without risking too much. At the same time, driving absolutely full out the whole way.
"That last stint, I was giving it everything I had. It was a bit of a shame that I had to conserve fuel a little bit at the beginning of the last stint, but by the end I was pretty much flat out. The Honda was getting great mileage out there. Certainly , better than the other guys."
PAUL TRACY, #26 TEAM KOOL GREEN REYNARD/HONDA/FIRESTONE on black flag penalty: (Started 5th / DNF - 19th; Currently 13th with 32 points in the standings)
"From what I saw Al (Unser) came through the grass and chopped in front of me on the pit lane. I was driving a straight line. I don't think it was my fault. It's disappointing because I think we showed the KOOL car was good and we had a shot at finishing on the podium. But the 10-second penalty cost us a lap."
BARRY GREEN, TEAM KOOL GREEN - TEAM OWNER on black flag penalty to Paul Tracy:
"I'm disappointed with the officials' decision to impose a 10-second black flag penalty on Paul. It cost us the race and I don't agree with the decision. Everyone entering and exiting the pits must share equal responsibility on all pit stops. Al Unser Jr. should have backed off as well. There should have been two penalties, if any at all. But the team is running well. Both cars are extremely competitive. We just need that little bit more and we'll be hitting them out of the park."
PPG-DAYTON INDY LIGHTS CHAMPIONSHIP RACE:
Brazil's Luiz Garcia Jr. won today's 36-lap race from the pole. He crossed the finish line 1.820 seconds in front of Derek Higgins and Didier Andre. Meanwhile, Team KOOL Green's Naoki Hattori started from the fifth, but an engine problem early in the race saw him fall back through the field and finish 17th. ************
BARBER DODGE PRO SERIES RACE:
Thomas Schie passed Nichols Rondet with six laps remaining to win the Barber Dodge Pro Series race at Burke Lakefront Airport. It was the second victory of the season for Schie, who expanded his points lead to nine (73-64) over Todd Snyder with seven rac es left in the 12-race series. Snyder finished fourth. Team KOOL Green's Alex Gurney started and finished ninth.
ALEX GURNEY, #27 TEAM KOOL GREEN (BARBER DODGE PRO SERIES):
"The start was crazy because there were parts flying everywhere. I just weaved my way through it all. It would have been a great race except for the spin at Turn 1. My arm restraint was sliding down my arm throughout the race. I was pulling it up everytime I came up to a turn. I was trying to pull it up on the straight. When I looked up, I was a little off line and I tried to brake anyway. I got two wheels in the dirt and spun the car.
"Other than that, it was a good race. I made a couple of passes. The first one with Giovanni Anapoli where we were side by side through Turns 1 and 2; it was just a matter of who would lift last and I got him going into Turn 3."
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