By David Reininger â€“ motorsport.com Cicero, Ill. (July 29, 2001) â€“ Kenny Brack won the Target Grand Prix at Chicago Motor Speedway today, extending his lead in the championship standings over Helio Castroneves by 22 points. After victories...
By David Reininger – motorsport.com
Cicero, Ill. (July 29, 2001) – Kenny Brack won the Target Grand Prix at Chicago Motor Speedway today, extending his lead in the championship standings over Helio Castroneves by 22 points. After victories at Motegi, Japan and Milwaukee, Brack has three wins, the most of any driver this season.
At the start, Tony Kanaan led from the pole with Helio Castroneves slotting in behind for the first lap. Jimmy Vasser, who started on the outside of the third row, stayed high passing three cars on the first lap. Vasser immediately put pressure on Castroneves and one lap later overtook the Brazilian driver for second place.
Castroneves regrouped, passing Vasser for second on lap 15. He then went to work on Kanaan, who seemed content to try to save fuel. On lap 48, Castroneves dove under Kanaan in turn one to take the lead. By the time he crossed the start finish line, he had a one second lead.
The first round of scheduled pit stops started on lap 74. Sixteen laps later, Scott Dixon, who was the last driver to pit, handed the lead back to Castroneves.
Kenny Brack’s crew managed to gain the Swedish driver track position, moving the Shell car into second place. Brack was followed by Dario Franchitti, Memo Gidley, and Alex Zanardi in fifth place. Tony Kanaan, who led early in the race, circulated in sixth place.
The first yellow flag of the day flew on lap 112 when Michael Jourdain spun in turn one, nearly collecting Gidley. When the smoke cleared from Jourdain’s spin, Gidley, who moved high to avoid Jourdain’s car, had lost four positions, falling from 4th to 8th.
During the ensuing caution period, positions nine through nineteenth, made their second pit stop, even though they would have to make one more stop. Dixon, Gidley, and Alex Tagliani all pitted, putting them out of sequence with the leaders.
On the restart, Papis, who lined up behind the leader, nearly drove into the back of Castroneves before passing to get one of his laps back.
Brack, seeing that Castroneves was vulnerable, capitalized by passing on the west of the circuit to take the lead. Zanardi followed on the other end of the oval, relegating Castroneves to third.
Because the field was split using two different pit strategies, Brack moved to twelfth place after making his second scheduled pit stop. Although most of the drivers ahead of him still needed to make their final stop, Brack fought his way into 8th place as he waited for the lead to come back to him.
Dixon, the last out of sequence driver to make his pit stop, handed the lead back to Brack on lap 207. Once back in the lead, Brack sailed to victory 4.48 seconds ahead of second place Patrick Carpentier.
Carpentier and Gil de Ferran finished second and third respectively, running the distance with only two pit stops. Gidley, on a three-stop strategy, made his last stop 28 laps from the checkered. Despite the late race stop, Gidley was running second with 15 laps to go.
Gidley made an aggressive move to pass a lapped car and slid high on the track allowing Carpentier and de Ferran to take his position.
Although on the same pit strategy as the leaders, Carpentier’s early second stop meant a third visit to the pits for a splash and go fuel stop. A missed communication from his crew caused Carpentier to miss his opportunity to stop for service. A late race caution period for a spun by Mauricio Gugelmin slowed the race for 11 laps, giving Carpentier the fuel mileage he needed to finish the race.
“Even this one didn’t look like we were going to make it because the guys in the pits wanted me to stop and I didn’t so there was some confusion,” said Carpentier. “But that confusion paid off for us. A little bit of luck for us today, but we’ll take it.”
Gil de Ferran finished third in his Marlboro Team Penske Reynard/Honda after making drastic changes to the car just before the start.
“I wasn’t too unhappy with the car, nevertheless, we decided to change the car completely for this morning. That meant changing all four springs, bars, everything. After we ran this morning, I wasn’t too happy, so we decided to change it all back to what we ran on Friday and Saturday.
“I started the race and I felt the car was great straightaway. It ran flawlessly, no trouble whatsoever, even though it had just been put back together. The lower the fuel got, the better the car would run.”
“On the second pit stop, (team owner) Rodger (Penske) made a great call, we came in slightly early. Having some clear track ahead of us, we were able to run quite fast. We passed a couple of guys and ran real fast until we caught up to the bunch again.”
Scott Dixon finished fourth, followed by Memo Gidley and Alex Tagliani in sixth.