Good Morning from heavily occluded Belle Isle in downtown Detroit. Overnight, the familiar clouds and threatening weather that has followed the FedEx Championship Series around the world for the last three months has arrived again. But this...
Good Morning from heavily occluded Belle Isle in downtown Detroit. Overnight, the familiar clouds and threatening weather that has followed the FedEx Championship Series around the world for the last three months has arrived again. But this time, there is a difference as the Champ Cars are racing on a road course! And that means that the show goes on, regardless of the weather. CART Chief Steward J. Kirk Russell has stated that this weekend's race will run a maximum of two hours, 15 minutes, exclusive of any Red Flag periods. This is the beauty of the FedEx Championship Series, not only do the competitors have to master every type of track in the world, they also have to overcome anything that Mother Nature can muster (short of a Nazareth snowstorm!). CART safety crews have been busy all morning, mopping up any standing water on the course and the crews have rendered a racing surface ready for the traditional 30-minute morning warm-up at 9 a.m.
GREEN FLAG waves at 9 a.m. to start the final practice session. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 60 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 63 degrees F. at the start of the session; obviously the coldest temperatures the drivers have faced here at Belle Isle all weekend.
At 9:10 a.m., 10 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #20 MORENO with a lap of 92.332 mph (1:31.470), followed by #1 MONTOYA (92.249 mph; 1:31.552) and #3 CASTRONEVES (92.171 mph; 1:31.630).
At 9:16 a.m., #3 CASTRONEVES brushes the outside wall with the left side tires at Turn 12 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.
At 9:20 a.m., 20 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #1 MONTOYA with a lap of 95.482 mph (1:28.452), followed by #19X KUROSAWA (94.733 mph; 1:29.152) and #2 DE FERRAN (94.587 mph; 1:29.287).
At 9:29 a.m., #96 SERVIA spins at Turn 11 but quickly rights the car and continues on course without apparent damage.
CHECKERED FLAG waves at 9:30 a.m. to end the final practice session of the weekend with #20 MORENO again the fastest driver with a speed of 95.497 mph (1:28.438), followed by #1 MONTOYA (95.482 mph; 1:28.452) and #97 DA MATTA (95.251 mph; 1:28.667). FedEx Championship Series drivers introduced 24 cars to the track in the morning session with secondary cars utilized by #19X KUROSAWA, #10X FONTANA, #16X JOURDAIN JR. and #32X CARPENTIER.
RACE As the Green Flag approaches for the Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit, the clouds have lifted and the track is dry.
At 12:56 p.m., the National Anthem is sung by Charrissa Jones.
At 1 p.m., the command "Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!" is given by Honorary Starter, Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer and Mark Frissora, President of Tenneco Automotive.
At 1:02 p.m., the CART Pace Car begins to roll with the field of 24 cars in tow for the first of three pace laps. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 70 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 70 degrees F. as well for the start of the race.
GREEN FLAG waves at 1:10 p.m. to start the 84-lap Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit! #1 MONTOYA grabs the lead as the field pours across the Start/Finish line. CART course observers report wheel-to-wheel contact between #6 ANDRETTI and #8 BRACK at Turn 3 and #16 JOURDAIN JR. and #12 VASSER at Turn 5.
#1 MONTOYA leads the first lap by .467 seconds over #27 FRANCHITTI, followed by #3 CASTRONEVES, #2 DE FERRAN, and #97 DA MATTA. This is the fourth consecutive race that MONTOYA has led the first lap of the race.
On Lap 5, the running order is #1 MONTOYA leading by 1.140 seconds over #27 FRANCHITTI, followed by #3 CASTRONEVES, #2 DE FERRAN, and #97 DA MATTA.
On Lap 10, the running order is #1 MONTOYA leading by 2.724 seconds over #27 FRANCHITTI, followed by #3 CASTRONEVES, #2 DE FERRAN, and #97 DA MATTA.
On Lap 11, #8 BRACK pits after making contact against the wall with the left rear tire. BRACK subsequently retires from the race due to contact.
Also on Lap 11, #6 ANDRETTI spins at Turn 4 but regains control and continues on course without apparent damage to the car. ANDRETTI subsequently radios his crew complaining of an ill-handling car.
On Lap 15, #97 DA MATTA pulls off course at Turn 8 with an apparent mechanical problem. #11 FITTIPALDI takes over 5th place.
Also on Lap 15, the running order is #1 MONTOYA leading by 4.049 seconds over #27 FRANCHITTI, followed by #3 CASTRONEVES, #2 DE FERRAN, and #11 FITTIPALDI.
On Lap 20, the running order is #1 MONTOYA leading by 3.353 seconds over #27 FRANCHITTI, followed by #3 CASTRONEVES, #2 DE FERRAN, and #11 FITTIPALDI.
On Lap 25, the running order is #1 MONTOYA leading by 2.477 seconds over #27 FRANCHITTI, followed by #3 CASTRONEVES, #2 DE FERRAN, and #11 FITTIPALDI.
On Lap 27, #27 FRANCHITTI pits and falls from 2nd to 7th.
On Lap 28, leader #1 MONTOYA pits but maintains 1st place after a fast stop by the Target crew. #2 DE FERRAN also pits and falls from 4th to 5th.
Also on Lap 28, #26 TRACY pits.
Again on Lap 28, #5 NAKANO spins at Turn 12. The driver keeps the car running and spins it around into the outside of the right-hand corner before stalling the car. The incident is handled with a local Yellow Flag.
On Lap 30, the running order is #1 MONTOYA leading by 4.993 seconds over #3 CASTRONEVES, followed by #27 FRANCHITTI, #2 DE FERRAN, and #11 FITTIPALDI.
BLACK FLAG is shown on Lap 30 to #6 ANDRETTI for a Pit Road speed violation incurred at Pit In on Lap 29.
YELLOW FLAG waves on Lap 32 after #40 FERNANDEZ spins exiting Turn 8 and stalls in the middle of the track. CART safety workers quickly hook the car up and tow it to the Pit Area. FERNANDEZ subsequently retires from the race due to a mechanical problem. None of the leaders pits under this Yellow Flag as they had just completed Green Flag starts a few laps earlier.
GREEN FLAG waves on Lap 35 with #1 MONTOYA leading by .293 seconds over #3 CASTRONEVES, followed by #27 FRANCHITTI, #2 DE FERRAN, and #11 FITTIPALDI. #96 SERVIA completes a pass on the inside of Turn 1 on #20 MORENO and takes over 7th place. Also #18 BLUNDELL spins into the run-off at Turn 12 and stalls the car. CART safety workers get the car restarted, but BLUNDELL loses a lap to the leaders before he can get back up to speed.
On Lap 40, the running order is #1 MONTOYA leading by 1.553 seconds over #3 CASTRONEVES, followed by #27 FRANCHITTI, #2 DE FERRAN, and #11 FITTIPALDI.
On Lap 45, the running order is #1 MONTOYA leading by 2.497 seconds over #3 CASTRONEVES, followed by #27 FRANCHITTI, #2 DE FERRAN, and #11 FITTIPALDI.
On Lap 48, #2 DE FERRAN passes #27 FRANCHITTI at Turn 1 to take over 3rd place.
On Lap 49, #11 FITTIPALDI passes #27 FRANCHITTI at Turn 1 to take over 4th place.
On Lap 50, #7 PAPIS passes #27 FRANCHITTI to take over 5th place. FRANCHITTI has radioed his crew that the car is ill-handling.
On Lap 50, the running order is #1 MONTOYA leading by 3.806 seconds over #3 CASTRONEVES, followed by #2 DE FERRAN, #11 FITTIPALDI, and #7 PAPIS.
On Lap 54, #20 MORENO attempts an inside pass of #96 SERVIA at the right-hand Turn 3 but cannot keep the car tight enough in the corner to maintain control and the position. #26 TRACY shoots to the inside of MORENO as MORENO struggles to regain traction and TRACY takes over 8th place.
On Lap 57, #27 FRANCHITTI pits and falls from 6th to 12th.
Also on Lap 57, #10 FONTANA and #33 TAGLIANI make wheel-to-wheel contact at Turn 12, but both cars continue on course without apparent damage to either car.
On Lap 58, #2 DE FERRAN, #3 CASTRONEVES, and #11 FITTIPALDI all pit, returning to the race in 5th, 3rd, and 4th place, respectively.
Also on Lap 58, #26 TRACY pits and tries to avoid the departing car of #2 DE FERRAN, who pits just behind TRACY's crew. TRACY slides through his Pit Box and makes contact with his right front tire crewman, injuring the crewman's foot. TRACY then stalls the car as the crew tries to roll his car back into the Pit Box. The crew gets the car restarted and TRACY finally gets out of the pits.
On Lap 59, #1 MONTOYA pits and gives up the lead to #20 MORENO. #6 ANDRETTI also pits on Lap 59.
BLACK FLAG is shown on Lap 60 to #26 TRACY for a Pit Safety violation. TRACY subsequently pits the car for a Stop and Go penalty, finally ending up in 12th position.
YELLOW FLAG waves on Lap 61 after #11 FITTIPALDI and #2 DE FERRAN are in the process of passing the lapped car of #18 BLUNDELL as the cars brake heavily for Turn 12. FITTIPALDI completes the pass of BLUNDELL first and swings wide for the upcoming right hand Turn 11. FITTIPALDI makes contact with the right front tire of BLUNDELL, then loses control and gathers up BLUNDELL and DE FERRAN, with all cars sliding into the tire barrier at Turn 12. FITTIPALDI retires from the race due to contact, but both DE FERRAN and BLUNDELL are restarted by CART safety workers and continue on course to their Pit Boxes.
On Lap 61, #1 MONTOYA pits and subsequently withdraws from the race due to a mechanical problem. #3 CASTRONEVES takes over the lead.
GREEN FLAG waves on Lap 65 to resume the race with CASTRONEVES leading.
YELLOW FLAG waves as the field rides through Turn 4 on Lap 65. #20 MORENO slides straight through the corner, heavily impacting the outside wall. MORENO exits the car under his own power, but the car is retired due to contact.
GREEN FLAG waves on Lap 68 to resume the race.
BLACK FLAG is shown to #26 TRACY on Lap 68 for the earlier Pit Incident and the driver is excluded for the remainder of the race due to the Pit Road Safety violation. All laps earned by TRACY since the Pit Incident are forfeited and the driver drops from 10th to 20th and is out of the race. The Pit Road Chief Steward made the decision to exclude TRACY from the remainder of the race.
On Lap 70, the running order is #3 CASTRONEVES leading by .609 seconds over #7 PAPIS, followed by #96 SERVIA, #27 FRANCHITTI, and #32 CARPENTIER.
BLACK FLAG is shown to #19 KUROSAWA on Lap 73 for erratic driving. KUROSAWA subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag.
On Lap 75, the running order is #3 CASTRONEVES leading by 1.292 seconds over #7 PAPIS, followed by #96 SERVIA, #27 FRANCHITTI, and #32 CARPENTIER.
On Lap 80, the running order is #3 CASTRONEVES leading by 3.242 seconds over #7 PAPIS, followed by #96 SERVIA, #27 FRANCHITTI, and #32 CARPENTIER.
On Lap 81, #6 ANDRETTI pulls off course with a mechanical problem at Turn 5 and subsequently retires from the race due to a mechanical problem. ANDRETTI was in 7th at the time.
On Lap 82, #10 FONTANA slows on the backstretch and pulls off course. FONTANA subsequently retires from the race due to a mechanical problem.
WHITE FLAG waves on Lap 83 for leader #3 CASTRONEVES, 4.767 seconds ahead of 2nd-place #7 PAPIS.
CHECKERED FLAG waves on Lap 84 for the winner of the Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit, HELIO CASTRONEVES! CASTRONEVES comes home 4.415 seconds ahead of #7 MAX PAPIS, followed by #96 ORIOL SERVIA. Fourth place goes to #27 DARIO FRANCHITTI with 5th place going to #32 PATRICK CARPENTIER.
HELIO CASTRONEVES earns his first CART Champ Car career victory today in his Marlboro Team Penske Honda/Reynard. CASTRONEVES' last race win was in Indy Lights at Toronto in 1997. Sunday's race also featured the first laps that CASTRONEVES has led in CART competition since Portland in 1999.
MAX PAPIS finishes 2nd today in his Miller Lite Ford/Reynard. This represents PAPIS' second podium of the season, the other coming with a win at Homestead to start the 2000 season. This is also PAPIS' third top-eight finish in the last four events.
ORIOL SERVIA nails down 3rd today, representing his season-best finish. The driver had previously finished 6th at Long Beach. SERVIA is also the second rookie on the Champ Car podium this season, as KENNY BRACK finished third at Nazareth.
Today represents the seventh different winner in the first seven events of the 2000 FedEx Championship Series.
Honda collects its 16th consecutive win on a street course today, dating all the way back to Long Beach in 1998.
PAUL TRACY retains his lead in the chase for the FedEx Championship Series Championship with 59 points. JIMMY VASSER sits in 2nd with 54, ROBERTO MORENO is 3rd with 52, MAX PAPIS is 4th with 47, tied with GIL DE FERRAN.
CART Pit Steward Dennis Swan announced immediately following Paul Tracy's pit incident that injured a Team Green crew member that the driver was excluded from the event as a result. Tracy, who injured Jeff Simon when he made a green-flag pit stop on Lap 58, was credited with completing 57 laps and finished 20th. Tracy was held scoreless but retained the championship lead with 59 points.
"We probably would have been 3rd or 4th in the end result," said Tracy, who was running in the top 10 at the time of the incident. "When I was coming into the pits, it looked to me like Gil [de Ferran] would pull out in front of me. I tried to avoid him getting into the pits and then couldn't stop in the box, running into my crew guy. That is what excluded us from the event."
Quotes from today's top three finishers follow:
HELIO CASTRONEVES: "I'm very happy. I knew it would come, the only question was when. I'm still looking at myself, pulling my hair and saying, 'Did it really happen?' This morning I knew I was going to have a dream day. I'm just the kind of person, I express myself. Today was my day, I'm very happy. We have to keep working because the championship is very tough. I'm very happy for the guys on Marlboro Team Penske, Honda, and Firestone. I was very cool, very focused today. I didn't have problems with the car or backmarkers or anything. I don't like to be conservative, but it paid off today. I was in the zone, in the moment. Now they will recognize my name without the dash [he recently changed his last name from Castro-Neves to Castroneves]. Maybe that's what did it. The dash was slowing me down a little bit."
MAX PAPIS: "First of all, congratulations to Helio for his first win. It was a fantastic day for the Miller Ford team today. Today was a good day for the guys in the pits, but the second pit stop was a little chaotic. It was not a very good situation there. Helio raced very strong today. The Ford engine showed all the progress we've been making for the last year-and-a-half and we're looking good for the championship."
ORIOL SERVIA: "I came here with a lot of expectations. I wanted to do well. I showed some potential in Milwaukee, I was racing with Michael Andretti pretty hard, but then I got into the marbles and had to make another pit stop, so I missed my chance to get on the podium. There was a lot of pressure on myself to do well. You saw the stops the PPI team did today, they were great and it was easy."
This concludes the Pit Notes for the Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix. The FedEx Championship Series next travels to the City of Roses, Portland, Ore., for the running of Round Eight of the FedEx Championship Series, the Freightliner G.I. Joe's 200 Presented by Texaco on June 25.