CHAMPCAR/CART: Chicago: Honda race report

Franchitti finishes third in Chicago. For the second race in a row, Dario Franchitti contended for the victory at today's Grand Prix of Chicago. His second consecutive third place finish moves him to third in the series standings. Starting from...

Franchitti finishes third in Chicago.

For the second race in a row, Dario Franchitti contended for the victory at today's Grand Prix of Chicago. His second consecutive third place finish moves him to third in the series standings. Starting from the pole, Franchitti led the first 68 laps, then dropped back two places during the first round of pit stops. Further delays in his remaining two stops cost additional time, but the Scot continued to fight in the lead group as he followed race winner Cristiano da Matta and Bruno Junqueira across the finish line for the second consecutive event.

Shinji Nakano had his best race since joining Fernandez Racing last year, moving steadily up through the field to end the day fifth. Paul Tracy had another exciting race, narrowly avoiding a first lap crash and moving all the way up to 7th place in the process. He eventually worked his way into the lead group, but contact with Alex Tagliani while fighting for third place on lap 156 sent both cars spinning. Tracy recovered in 11th place and then charged back to recover two more positions in the closing laps, setting the fastest race lap in the process.

After starting on the second row, Tony Kanaan made an outside pass on the opening lap to move up to third and continued to run in the lead group until his final pit stop, when a malfunctioning air jack cost him a lap to the leaders. He ended up battling Tracy for the final 25 laps for his second consecutive eighth place finish.

Sixth starting Adrian Fernandez also fell off the lead lap with a long pit stop to repair brake problems, eventually finishing 13th. Michael Andretti had a short day at the track, with the Team Motorola entry dropping out after just 79 laps with mechanical problems.

Honda Fast Facts
· This was Dario Franchitti's fourth podium (top three) finish of the season to-date

· The fifth place finish for Nakano is his best race result since starting CART racing in 2000.

Dario Franchitti (#26 Team KOOL Green Honda) Started 1st, finished 3rd: "It's good to be on the podium again, I have to credit my guys. This is a brand new car we ran today, the first time it turned a wheel was yesterday morning. But the car was quick right off the trailer. We just have to get the pit stops sorted out. What can I say? We had some problems the end of last year, and a couple times this year. To lose places like we did today is tough. The car was fantastic today and my training pays off on a day like today. These cars are very physical to drive and the heat we had today makes it extra difficult. But as my wife will attest, I seem to spend most of my days in my gym, at my bike or out running, so that definitely helped on a day like today."

Shinji Nakano (#52 Alpine/Fernandez Racing Honda) Started 16th, finished 5th: "It was a good race, no mistakes, no trouble, that's good. I have to say one thing: the team did a great job to find a better set-up. We were struggling a lot yesterday. But my engineer worked very hard and came up with a good car for the race. We have been struggling a lot from the beginning of the season, but the problems are getting smaller and smaller. This weekend, we did not have any mechanical problems, so we could just concentrate on finding a set up for the race and we did it."

Tony Kanaan (#10 Pioneer/WorldCom Mo Nunn Racing Honda) Started 4th, finished 8th: "A few weeks ago I was just praying for a finish, now I'm praying for a higher finish. We're human, I guess, never satisfied. It was very hot and humid, one of the hardest days I've had in a race car in a long, long time. My car ran very well on new tires, but was a real handful as [the tires] started to go away. But that seemed to be the case for everyone out there. It's just unfortunate we lost some positions during our pit stops. One of these days we're going to get everything right."

Michael Andretti (#39 Team Motorola Honda) Started 14th, finished 15th (not running - mechanical): "We had a good start and got good pretty good track position. The car was handling well and I was able to pass cars on the outside at the beginning. We than just settled down and stayed there as the race settled into a good rhythm. Than I started to get smoke in the cockpit. I guess it was some kind of electrical fire, and then we lost power and that was it, unfortunately. Not the best end to not the best of weekends."

Adrian Fernandez (#51 Tecate/Telmez/Quaker State Fernandez Racing Honda) Started 6th, finished 13th: "The car was decent. We were able to run well up front. We should have finished right up there. But I lost my brakes a little over half way through the race and had to come in. A brake bleeder had broken and I lost eight laps getting that fixed. After that, the car's handling started going away, but we hung in there the best we could. We just have to get better and avoid mistakes and one of these days we will get one. I have to say I am looking forward to Toronto. It is a good track for us and we are looking for revenge for the last three races!"

-honda-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Bruno Junqueira , Adrian Fernandez , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Shinji Nakano , Cristiano da Matta , Mo Nunn