CHAMPCAR/CART: Detroit GP Mercedes Race Notes

Player's/Forsythe Mercedes driver Greg Moore moved from his seventh-place starting position to earn a third place finish in the Detroit Grand Prix at the Raceway at Belle Isle. Meanwhile, Dario Franchitti took the victory just ahead of his ...

Player's/Forsythe Mercedes driver Greg Moore moved from his seventh-place starting position to earn a third place finish in the Detroit Grand Prix at the Raceway at Belle Isle. Meanwhile, Dario Franchitti took the victory just ahead of his teammate, Paul Tracy.

The race finished under a full-course yellow after Cristiano da Matta's race car made heavy impact with the wall exiting turn two, scattering debris all over the track in the process. Da Matta's crash prohibited Moore from making a final assault on Franchitti and Tracy for the race lead. With the result, Moore is now tied with Adrian Fernandez for sixth place in the PPG Cup driver's championship. With Fernandez and Christian Fittipaldi (in fifth place in the driver's points) out for a yet-unspecified number of races due to injuries, Moore is now poised to make a major move up in the overall point standings.

The race was tension-filled as numerous crashes brought out several full-course yellow conditions. Moore's teammate, Patrick Carpentier, was involved in a crash in turn three mid-way through the race when Mauricio Gugelmin lost control of his car during braking. Gugelmin's PacWest/Hollywood Mercedes climbed on top of Carpentier's Player's/Forsythe Mercedes, and the wheel of Gugelmin's car appeared to make contact with the helmet of Carpentier.

Gugelmin's car then barrel-rolled off the track, landing on its tires. Gugelmin exited the car on his own, with only slight bruises as a result of the accident. In the mean time, the CART Safety Team carefully removed Carpentier from his race car in case he had suffered a neck injury.

Although he was awake and alert when he was transported to Detroit Receiving Hospital, Carpentier will be kept overnight for observation, and is scheduled for precautionary X-rays of his neck and back.

Hogan Racing's Helio Castro-Neves finished seventh despite completing the final three laps with his front-left suspension and tire badly damaged after making contact with Juan Montoya during the final full-course caution period.

PacWest Racing/Motorola Mercedes pilot Mark Blundell was impressive in his first race back with the team after missing eight races due to a neck injury suffered in mid-season testing. He finished 10th after falling all the way from 15th to 25th when his tire was punctured by debris on the race track on lap three.

Marlboro Team Penske rookie Gonzalo Rodriguez, in his first race with the team, finished 12th. His veteran teammate, Al Unser Jr., finished 15th. Unser Jr. spun late in the race to avoid Da Matta's crash in turn two.

Greg Moore, No. 99, Player's/Forsythe Mercedes/Firestone (Third) "This is a good feeling. My guys got me all the spots I picked up today. I came in the pits in eighth place on the first stop, and I went back out in fourth. My second stop was brilliant as well. There was almost no passing on the track. We did all our passing in the pits, which is the easiest way for me to pass. I'm real excited. This was a good day. If the race had stayed green, I think I could have challenged Paul (Tracy) and Dario (Franchitti). We had enough fuel. We could have moved up."

Helio Castro-Neves, No. 9, Hogan Racing Mercedes/Firestone (Seventh) (On his accident with Juan Montoya) "I saw the pace car pull off the track, and I assumed the race was going to green that lap. People started to speed up and the team had told me that it was going to go green. I never knew they were bringing another pace car on the track. By the time I knew that the track was still yellow, I had already hit Juan. I'm sorry that it happened, but sometimes incidents like this do happen. To finish the race was a big victory for us today. And, to finish on three wheels was something that I never imagined would happen."

Gonzalo Rodriguez, No. 3, Marlboro Team Penske Mercedes/Goodyear (12th) "The Marlboro Mercedes Lola was very good today, and the engine was great. We just needed more green laps at the end of the race. We had been saving fuel and we were ready to go. On the final restart, (Cristiano) Da Matta passed me and then he went way inside and got into the marbles and hit the wall. Luckily, I was already past him when he hit, but it was very close to me. I could actually hear the impact. And, part of his car hit my right rear so I had to come in for new tires. That cost me two track positions. It was a very exciting day for my first Champ Car race. My mechanics did a great job on the pit stops, which was all very new for me. I'm just happy to have finished the weekend with a PPG Cup point and the Marlboro car in one piece."

Mark Blundell, No. 18, PacWest Motorola Mercedes/Firestone (10th) "Overall, for the fact that we've just come back, the weekend wasn't bad at all. Our biggest disappointment was qualifying yesterday, because we felt we should have been a lot stronger. We just caught a bit of bad luck in the race. Physically, it was reasonably tough for me because I've just got back into it. But really, it's done me a world of good."

Al Unser Jr., No. 2, Marlboro Team Penske Mercedes/Goodyear (15th) "The Marlboro Mercedes Lola ran great all day. My guys did a super job improving the car throughout the weekend. We were gaining on the leaders and had moved up to 10th when we stopped for fuel under yellow on lap 64. Unfortunately, on the restart there was an accident and the car in front of me stopped suddenly, causing me to hit him and spin. Now it's on to Mid-Ohio where we recently conducted a three-day test. Hopefully we'll have a good showing there."

Mauricio Gugelmin, No. 17, PacWest Hollywood Mercedes/Firestone (24th) "When I came into the braking point for turn three, I was in the middle of the track. As soon as I braked, the car moved left and then snapped to the right. I spun around and I couldn't avoid hitting Patrick Carpentier. I rolled over once, but luckily I ended up on four wheels. I'm okay-just a little banged up from hitting things in the car."

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Adrian Fernandez , Patrick Carpentier , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Mauricio Gugelmin , Mark Blundell , Greg Moore , Cristiano da Matta , Gonzalo Rodriguez
Teams Team Penske