CHAMPCAR/CART: Chicago Mercedes Post-Race Report

FedEx Championship Series Report Race: Target Grand Prix, Chicago Motor Speedway, Cicero, Illinois Date/Session: Sun., Aug. 22, 1999/Race Results Castro-Neves, Mercedes Fifth at Chicago Brazilian Misses Podium Finish by 0.556 Seconds; ...

FedEx Championship Series Report

Race: Target Grand Prix, Chicago Motor Speedway, Cicero, Illinois Date/Session: Sun., Aug. 22, 1999/Race Results

Castro-Neves, Mercedes Fifth at Chicago Brazilian Misses Podium Finish by 0.556 Seconds; Carpentier Sixth

Hogan Racing Mercedes driver Helio Castro-Neves led the Mercedes-powered contingent with a fifth-place finish in Sunday's inaugural Target Grand Prix at newly built Chicago Motor Speedway. PPG Cup points leader Juan Montoya scored the victory for track owner and Target team owner Chip Ganassi over Dario Franchitti, Jimmy Vasser and Max Papis.

Castro-Neves, who sizzled with his Mercedes-powered Lola on the short-oval races earlier in the season, started in fifth position on the grid, and ran in the top 10 throughout the race. After running quicker laps than the leaders in the late stages of the 225-lap contest, Castro-Neves missed a podium finish by a scant 0.556 seconds and trailed winner Montoya by 16.335 seconds.

Player's/Forsythe pilot Patrick Carpentier, returning to the cockpit after missing last weekend's race with a neck injury, scored a sixth-place finish, while Epson Bettenhausen Motorsports rookie Shigeaki Hattori finished 17th.

For the other Mercedes-powered drivers, a promising weekend ended in disappointment. Mauricio Gugelmin raced in ninth position when transmission problems forced his day in the PacWest Hollywood Mercedes to end early. Teammate Mark Blundell started on the front row, after qualifying 0.025 seconds behind Max Papis. Blundell battled oversteer on his Motorola Mercedes car early in the race, then retired just past the halfway point in the race with a cooling problem and was credited with 21st place. Marlboro Team Penske Mercedes driver Al Unser Jr. and Player's/Forsythe pilot Greg Moore retired in the early stages of the contest with mechanical problems.

The FedEx Championship Series moves on to the temporary street circuit in Vancouver, Canada for the Molson Indy on Sept. 5.

Mercedes Quotes

Helio Castro-Neves, No. 9, Hogan Racing Mercedes/Firestone (Fifth/ 225 laps) "It was a really tough race. It was hard to overtake anyone, because the track had only one line. When it was Vasser and Papis in front of me, they were taking all the lines in front of me, so I was just hanging there trying to hold the car. We saved fuel today, and I thought we'd have the advantage we had before on the short ovals, but we didn't. But it still worked out well."

Patrick Carpentier, No. 33, Player's/Forsythe Mercedes/Firestone (Sixth/ 225 laps) "We were hoping for a better day. On the restart, my car got a little sideways on the exit of turn four, and that allowed Helio Castro-Neves to get by me that one time. The car was pretty loose at the end."

Mauricio Gugelmin, No. 17, PacWest Hollywood Mercedes/Firestone (19th/ 187 laps) "The balance was pretty good today, although we had difficulty on restarts because the car was difficult to predict. That was the biggest problem I had. The engineers chased the balance really well with tire pressures. The trick today was to have a good car for the restarts when everybody was still settling down. Unfortunately, that's what I definitely didn't have. About 15 laps before I retired, I started feeling a vibration at the back of the car coming from the gearbox. Something must have broken, because I lost the drive completely."

Mark Blundell, No. 18, PacWest Motorola Mercedes/Firestone (21st/ 142 laps) "At the start, we had troubles with the car being loose, but we got it balanced out again and I was quite comfortable. We were looking very good with our fuel consumption. But we developed a problem and couldn't continue. It's a shame we didn't get the opportunity to carry out our plans for the rest of the race."

Al Unser Jr., No. 2, Marlboro Team Penske Mercedes/Goodyear (25th / 64 laps) "This just wasn't our weekend. After yesterday's spin and crash during practice, the team did a great job getting the backup car ready for qualifying and today's race. We were working our way up the field when we developed an engine problem, ending our day early. It's unfortunate, because the car was running well, and we were posting lap times as fast as the leaders."

Greg Moore, No. 99, Player's/Forsythe Mercedes/Firestone (26th / 62 laps) "The car started getting looser, and then it started smoking, so we just pulled off. The track was still a one-groove racetrack. I thought there would be more diving into the corners under heavy braking, but it was just too slippery."

Race Results, Target Grand Prix Cicero, Illinois August 22, 1999 Pos. Driver Engine Laps 1 Juan Montoya Honda 225 2 Dario Franchitti Honda 225 3 Jimmy Vasser Honda 225 4 Max Papis Ford Cosworth 225 5 Helio Castro-Neves Mercedes-Benz 225 6 Patrick Carpentier Mercedes-Benz 225 7 PJ Jones Ford Cosworth 225 8 Bryan Herta Ford Cosworth 224 9 Roberto Moreno Ford Cosworth 223 10 Robby Gordon Toyota 223 17 Shigeaki Hattori Mercedes-Benz 217 19 Mauricio Gugelmin Mercedes-Benz 187 21 Mark Blundell Mercedes-Benz 142 25 Al Unser Jr. Mercedes-Benz 64 26 Greg Moore Mercedes-Benz 62

Driver's Championship: Manufacturer's Championship

Juan Montoya 172 Honda 293 Dario Franchitti 168 Ford Cosworth 222 Michael Andretti 124 Mercedes-Benz 154 Paul Tracy 122 Toyota 51

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby Gordon , Al Unser Jr. , Shigeaki Hattori , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Max Papis , Roberto Moreno , Patrick Carpentier , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Mauricio Gugelmin , Bryan Herta , Mark Blundell , Greg Moore
Teams Team Penske