CHAMPCAR/CART: Chicago Sunday track notes

CICERO, Ill. -- Good Morning from damp Chicago Motor Speedway for Race Day in Chicago! Remember the Saturday Night Live/John Belushi skit "The Guest That Wouldn't Go Away?" A large low-pressure system south of Chicago that has threatened...

CICERO, Ill. -- Good Morning from damp Chicago Motor Speedway for Race Day in Chicago! Remember the Saturday Night Live/John Belushi skit "The Guest That Wouldn't Go Away?" A large low-pressure system south of Chicago that has threatened the speedway with storms all weekend rather than moving off as predicted is duplicating the show, making its presence known again Sunday morning. The low has hovered over the lower half of the state all night and has pushed light drizzle from over the fourth turn wall all morning. But the CART safety vehicles and jet blowers have been working the track at a frantic pace and they are slowly producing a race-able surface. But the 11 a.m. morning warm-up schedule will be affected as of 10 a.m.

GREEN FLAG waves at 11:25 a.m. to start the final practice session of the weekend. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 92 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 70 degrees F. at the start of the session.

At 11:35 a.m., 10 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #3 CASTRONEVES with a lap of 157.106 mph (23.679 seconds), followed by #2 DE FERRAN (156.475 mph; 23.674 seconds) and #32 CARPENTIER (155.230 mph; 23.864 seconds).

At 11:38 a.m., #18 BLUNDELL loses power on course and coasts low on the back straight, trying to make it back to his pit. The car stalls at Pit In. The crew readies the secondary car (#18X) for use in the remainder of the session.

YELLOW FLAG waves at 11:39 a.m. to allow CART safety crews to retrieve the stalled car of #18 BLUNDELL.

GREEN FLAG waves at 11:42 a.m. to resume the session.

BLACK FLAG is shown at 11:43 a.m. to #3 CASTRONEVES for a Pit Road speed violation incurred at Pit In at 11:39 a.m. CASTRONEVES subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag drive-thru penalty.

At 11:45 p.m., 20 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #3 CASTRONEVES with a lap of 157.106 mph (23.679 seconds), followed by #2 DE FERRAN (156.475 mph; 23.674 seconds), and #33 TAGLIANI (156.165 mph; 23.721 seconds).

At 11:47 a.m., #97 DA MATTA moves to the top of the speed board with a lap of 157.206 mph (23.664 seconds) on his 23rd lap of the session.

At 11:48 a.m., #97 DA MATTA spins at Pit In and stalls backwards in the Pit Lane. The Pits are temporarily closed while the crew pushes the car back to the Pit Box.

At 11:50 a.m., #2 DE FERRAN logs the fastest lap of the session with a speed of 158.953 mph (23.305 seconds).

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 12 p.m. to end the session with the fastest driver still #2 DE FERRAN with a speed of 158.953 mph (23.305 seconds), followed by #8 BRACK (158.701 mph; 23.342 seconds) and #1 MONTOYA (156.681 mph; 23.345 seconds). At the end of the Sunday warm-up session, 23 of the 26 cars introduced to the track are within one second of the fast lap set by DE FERRAN. Secondary cars were utilized by #18X BLUNDELL, #34X MARQUES, and #17X GUGELMIN.

It's with great regret to report that the CART community lost a long-time friend in the passing of photographer Ron Hussey this week in California. Our condolences go out to Ron's family and many friends in the paddock and our prayers go with you as we mourn the loss. Ron and his ever-present smile will be greatly missed by all that knew him.

The team of #34 MARQUES has elected to run the secondary car and therefore will drop to the rear of the grid for the start of the race.

At 2:55 p.m., the National Anthem is sung.

At 3 p.m. the command "Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!" is given by Honorary Starters Sylvester Stallone and Tim Allen.

At 3:02 p.m., the CART Pace Car begins to roll for the first of four pace laps. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 98 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 84 degrees F. at the start of the race.

On the last pace lap, #7 PAPIS heads down Pit Road with fire showing at the pop-off valve on top of the engine. PAPIS subsequently retires from the race due to a mechanical problem.

GREEN FLAG waves at 3:05 p.m. to start the Target Grand Prix Presented by Energizer! #1 MONTOYA quickly grabs the lead into Turn 1.

#1 MONTOYA leads the first lap, followed by #3 CASTRONEVES, #55 KANAAN, #8 BRACK, and #97 DA MATTA.

On Lap 10, the running order is #1 MONTOYA leading by .589 seconds over #3 CASTRONEVES, followed by #8 BRACK, #55 KANAAN, and #97 DA MATTA.

BLACK FLAG is shown to #18 BLUNDELL after CART course observers report smoke trailing from the car at speed. BLUNDELL subsequently pits the car and a large plume of smoke erupts from the rear of the car while in his Pit Box. BLUNDELL subsequently retires from the race due to a mechanical problem.

YELLOW FLAG waves on Lap 20 after CART course observers report debris in Turn 1. All of the leaders stay on the track without pitting. The 13th through 21st positions do pit, led by #6 ANDRETTI.

On Lap 20 and under the Yellow Flag, the running order is #1 MONTOYA leading, followed by #3 CASTRONEVES, #8 BRACK, #55 KANAAN, and #97 DA MATTA.

GREEN FLAG waves on Lap 25 to resume the race.

YELLOW FLAG waves on Lap 26 after #19 SALLES spins entering Turn 1 and #10 GIDLEY slides into the side of the spinning car of SALLES. SALLES makes hard contact backward with the outside wall, coming to a rest at the top of the track. GIDLEY slides to a halt at the bottom of the track but keeps the car running and continues on course with slight damage to the nose of the car. Both drivers are uninjured in the incident.

On Lap 30, the running order is #1 MONTOYA, followed by #3 CASTRONEVES, and #8 BRACK.

GREEN FLAG waves on Lap 32. On the backstretch, #3 CASTRONEVES slows and #8 BRACK passes.

YELLOW FLAG waves on Lap 36 after a huge plume of smoke and fire erupt at the rear of the car of #3 CASTRONEVES. CASTRONEVES pulls on Pit Road and jumps from the car. CASTRONEVES subsequently retires from the race due to a mechanical problem.

On Lap 38, the leaders all pit save for #8 BRACK, #12 VASSER, and #6 ANDRETTI. BRACK now leads, followed by #1 MONTOYA, #55 KANNAN, #97 DA MATTA, and #26 TRACY. MONTOYA returns from the pits in sixth, #97 DA MATTA seventh, and #26 TRACY eighth. BRACK, VASSER, ANDRETTI, and MARQUES are now out of Pit Sequence with the leaders.

On Lap 40, the running order is #8 BRACK leading, followed by #12 VASSER, #16 JOURDAIN JR., #6 ANDRETTI, and #34 MARQUES.

GREEN FLAG waves on Lap 43 to resume the race.

On Lap 50, the running order is #8 BRACK leading, followed by #12 VASSER, #16 JOURDAIN JR., #6 ANDRETTI, and #34 MARQUES.

On Lap 60, the running order is #8 BRACK leading, followed by #12 VASSER, #16 JOURDAIN JR., #6 ANDRETTI and #34 MARQUES.

On Lap 70, the running order is #8 BRACK leading, followed by #12 VASSER, #16 JOURDAIN JR., #6 ANDRETTI and #1 MONTOYA.

YELLOW FLAG waves on Lap 76 after #26 TRACY and #27 FRANCHITTI make side-to-side contact at Turn 1 with TRACY being squeezed to the bottom. Both cars spin up to the wall making rear end contact. Both drivers retire from the race due to contact.

On Lap 79, the leaders pit. BRACK stalls in the pits and falls from first to 16th. MONTOYA wins the race off Pit Road.

On Lap 80 and under the Yellow Flag, the running order is #33 TAGLIANI leading, followed by #8 BRACK, #12 VASSER, #6 ANDRETTI and #1 MONTOYA. The top three spots triggered the Start/Finish transponder while traveling down Pit Road.

On Lap 81, #1 MONTOYA goes back to the lead as the Pit sequencing sorts out.

GREEN FLAG waves on lap 82 to resume the race.

BLACK FLAG is shown on Lap 85 to #34 MARQUES after CART course observers report that the engine is running rough at speed. MARQUES subsequently retires from the race due to a mechanical problem.

On Lap 90, the running order is #1 MONTOYA leading by .523 seconds over #6 ANDRETTI, followed by #55 KANAAN, #20 MORENO and #97 DA MATTA.

On Lap 100, the running order is #1 MONTOYA leading by .515 seconds over #6 ANDRETTI, followed by #55 KANAAN, #20 MORENO and #97 DA MATTA.

YELLOW FLAG waves on Lap 102 after #25 GARCIA JR. loses power on the front stretch and stalls at Pit Out with fluid pouring from the rear of the car. GARCIA JR. subsequently retires from the race due to a mechanical problem. CART crews begin an extensive clean-up of the track.

On Lap 110 and under the Yellow Flag, the running order is #1 MONTOYA leading, followed by #6 ANDRETTI, #55 KANAAN, #97 DA MATTA and #20 MORENO.

GREEN FLAG waves on Lap 115 to resume the race.

On Lap 120, the running order is #1 MONTOYA leading by .616 seconds, followed by #6 ANDRETTI, #55 KANAAN, #97 DA MATTA and #20 MORENO.

On Lap 130, the running order is #1 MONTOYA leading by .396 seconds over #6 ANDRETTI, followed by #55 KANAAN, #97 DA MATTA and #20 MORENO.

On Lap 140, the running order is #1 MONTOYA leading by .523 seconds over #6 ANDRETTI, followed by #55 KANAAN, #97 DA MATTA and #20 MORENO.

On Lap 145, #6 ANDRETTI passes #1 MONTOYA on the outside of Turn 1 and takes the lead.

On Lap 150, the running order is #6 ANDRETTI leading by 1.121 seconds over #1 MONTOYA, followed by #97 DA MATTA, #32 CARPENTIER and #2 DE FERRAN.

On Lap 160, the running order is #6 ANDRETTI leading by .310 seconds over #1 MONTOYA, followed by #97 DA MATTA, #32 CARPENTIER and #2 DE FERRAN.

On Lap 161, #2 DE FERRAN, #17 GUGELMIN, #96 SERVIA and #32 CARPENTIER all pit. #96 SERVIA has a pit fire break out and subsequently retires from the race due to a Pit Incident.

On Lap 162, #1 MONTOYA passes #6 ANDRETTI on the bottom of Turn 3 and takes the lead. Also on Lap 162, #97 DA MATTA pits and falls from third to sixth.

On Lap 166, #6 ANDRETTI pits and the team executes a 12.9-second stop but falls from second to sixth.

On Lap 167, all of the leaders but #1 MONTOYA have pitted. MONTOYA leads, followed by #8 BRACK, #40 FERNANDEZ, #97 DA MATTA and #32 CARPENTIER.

BLACK FLAG is shown on Lap 168 to #5 NAKANO after the driver dramatically slows on course with a mechanical problem. NAKANO subsequently retires from the race.

On Lap 170, #1 MONTOYA pits and #8 BRACK takes the lead.

On Lap 171, #8 BRACK leads by 6.842 seconds, followed by #40 FERNANDEZ.

YELLOW FLAG waves on Lap 172 after #32 CARPENTIER spins off Turn 4, hitting the wall backward. CARPENTIER is uninjured in the incident, but the car is retired due to contact.

On Lap 175, #8 BRACK pits under the Yellow with #40 FERNANDEZ. #97 DA MATTA takes the lead, followed by #1 MONTOYA.

On Lap 178 while circling the track under the Yellow Flag, #1 MONTOYA stalls in Turn 2 and subsequently retires from the race due to a mechanical problem.

GREEN FLAG waves on Lap 182 to resume the race with #97 DA MATTA leading, followed by #6 ANDRETTI, #2 DE FERRAN, #8 BRACK and #40 FERNANDEZ.

On Lap 190, #97 DA MATTA leads by 4.007 seconds, followed by #6 ANDRETTI, #2 DE FERRAN, #8 BRACK and #40 FERNANDEZ.

On Lap 200, #97 DA MATTA leads by 4.144 seconds, followed by #6 ANDRETTI, #2 DE FERRAN, #8 BRACK and #40 FERNANDEZ.

On Lap 210, #97 DA MATTA leads, followed by #6 ANDRETTI, #2 DE FERRAN, #8 BRACK and #40 FERNANDEZ.

On Lap 220, #97 DA MATTA leads by 1.388 seconds, followed by #6 ANDRETTI, #2 DE FERRAN, #8 BRACK and #40 FERNANDEZ.

WHITE FLAG waves on Lap 224 for #97 DA MATTA, leading by 1.640 seconds over #6 ANDRETTI.

CHECKERED FLAG waves on Lap 225 for the winner of the Target Grand Prix Presented by Energizer, CRISTIANO DA MATTA! DA MATTA wins by 1.690 seconds over MICHAEL ANDRETTI, followed by GIL DE FERRAN, KENNY BRACK and ADRIAN FERNANDEZ. There were four different leaders in Sunday's race, with MONTOYA leading the most laps with 111, followed by DA MATTA (51), BRACK (46) and ANDRETTI (17).

DA MATTA averaged 114.432 mph in Sunday's victory, taking 2 hours, 1 minute, and 23.727 seconds to achieve his first victory. There were 10 cars running at the end of the race with six cars on the lead lap. There were six lead changes in Sunday's race. The Yellow Flag waved six times for a total of 50 laps.

CRISTIANO DA MATTA's first career Champ Car win comes on his 32nd start in his Pioneer/MCI WorldCom Toyota/Reynard. DA MATTA's last win came in 1998 in Vancouver, en route to the Dayton Indy Lights Championship. DA MATTA led 51 laps, which represents the first laps he has led on an oval in his Champ Car career. DA MATTA is the ninth different winner in the first 12 events, one shy of tying the record of 10 different winners in a season, established last year.

MICHAEL ANDRETTI logs his fifth podium of the season with his second-place finish in his Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford/Lola. This represents ANDRETTI's fifth podium of the season and his fifth consecutive top-four finish.

GIL DE FERRAN logs his third podium of the season with his third-place finish Sunday in his Marlboro Team Penske Honda/Reynard, the other two coming with wins at Nazareth and Portland.

The unofficial top five in the chase for the FedEx Championship Series Championship is as follows: ANDRETTI with 120 points, MORENO with 98, DE FERRAN with 89, DA MATTA with 82, and TRACY with 80.

Quotes from the top three finishers in Sunday's Target Grand Prix Presented by Energizer follow:

CRISTIANO DA MATTA: "It wasn't an easy race for me. The last restart was the part where I was most relaxed in the car. I was able to get a big lead and I just concentrated on trying to control it. The run before my first pit stop, the car was really loose; I wasn't really expecting that. After I pitted, I had a very clear track ahead of me and I was able to go at almost qualifying pace, while those guys [the other contenders] were in traffic. That was the key to the race for me. It's been almost two years since my last win and it's good to refresh in your mind what it is to win a race. I was never really worried about getting my first win. I knew we were always running in the top five and my experience is that if you can run consistently in the top five, one day the door will open. Everything fell my way today."

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: "We did everything we wanted to do. We wanted to collect points and we did. It looked very, very bleak at the start of the weekend. I've got to say I wasn't really happy with the car, but this morning, [engineer] Peter Gibbons made a couple of changes and it was much better. We were just trying to hang in there with the leaders. Basically we were ready to do everything [pit stops, etc.] the opposite of the way the leaders did it, because we started so far back. The yellows [flags] just fell perfect for us. It wasn't just that we ran with the leaders, we ran with the leaders in a car that was capable of winning the race, and I'm very happy with that. We've got to stay focused [on the championship race]. We can't be caught up in it. We just need to keep our minds on our jobs. If we all do our jobs, we will be OK in the end."

GIL DE FERRAN: "It was a great day. The weekend started a bit slowly, but last night, we sat down for a couple of hours and had a long, deep think about what we wanted to do, and this morning, the car was very, very good. We just held our own, and the day turned out to be very, very good. My finger was all right; the only thing I had to be careful of was not to bang it on anything in the cockpit."

This concludes the Pit Notes for the Target Grand Prix Presented by Energizer. The FedEx Championship next travels to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, for the running of Round 13 of the FedEx Championship Series, the Miller Lite 200 on Aug. 13.

-CART-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Peter Gibbons