DETROIT (July 17, 2001) - Helio Castroneves of Marlboro Team Penske made a triumphant return to the site of his first career FedEx Championship Series victory Sunday when he captured the Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit on The Raceway at...
DETROIT (July 17, 2001) - Helio Castroneves of Marlboro Team Penske made a triumphant return to the site of his first career FedEx Championship Series victory Sunday when he captured the Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit on The Raceway at Belle Isle.
Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard), the reigning Indianapolis 500 champion, led every lap from the pole for the second time this season to score the maximum 22-point sweep that allowed him to pull within five points of the championship lead held by Kenny Brack (Shell Ford Lola) of Team Rahal.
Brack, who finished ninth, holds a 74-69 lead over Castroneves heading into next Sunday's Freightliner/G.I. Joe's 200 at Portland International Raceway, while Michael Andretti (Motorola Honda Reynard) of Team Motorola stands third with 48 points.
As he was during the April 8 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Castroneves was impressively dominant throughout the weekend, leading all 72 race laps from the pole while finishing 0.702 seconds ahead of runner-up Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard) of Team KOOL Green. Franchitti's podium result was his first since a runner-up effort at Vancouver last year.
Roberto Moreno (Visteon Toyota Reynard) finished third, collecting his first podium finish since taking second in last year's season finale at Laguna Seca.
Castroneves became the first driver to win consecutive FedEx Championship Series events on Belle Isle while claiming his fifth career Champ Car victory, all of which have come on road or street circuits. He scored championship points for the fifth time in six starts this season and for the ninth time in his past 10 starts, dating to last year's victory at Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca.
Andretti finished fourth to gain his eighth top-five finish in 12 career starts at Detroit, while Christian Fittipaldi (Kmart Toyota Lola) finished fifth for his best result on a road or street circuit since finishing fourth at Vancouver last year.
The Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit was Round 7 of 21 in the 2001 FedEx Championship Series. The series visits seven countries and four continents during the season and climaxes with the season-ending Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota on Sunday, Nov. 4 at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif. Thanks to a partnership between Marlboro, Toyota, CART and California Speedway, the winner of the season finale will collect $1 million. An additional $1 million, as well as the prestigious Vanderbilt Cup, will be awarded to the driver who wins the FedEx Championship Series championship.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
HELIO CASTRONEVES, Marlboro Honda Reynard: "What a day! It's a dream come true, especially coming back to Detroit where everything started. I knew it was going to be difficult, but once we got the pole position yesterday, we knew we could do it if we didn't make any mistakes. At the start, I was concerned with [Bruno] Junqueira, but I was able to get away clean. The pit stops were great. I was just taking care of it, and I wasn't trying to go fast. The track was getting better and better every lap. I was taking it easy, because it doesn't matter if you win by 18 seconds, or if you win by a small margin. On the last yellow flag [Marlboro Team Penske president] Tim Cindric came on the radio and said, 'You have a small leak in the right front tire.' I said, 'You don't need to tell me that with five laps to go!' [The championship] is what our goal is. We came into our territory here on the street circuits, and Marlboro Team Penske did a fantastic job. It's just starting; there's a long way to go."
DARIO FRANCHITTI, KOOL Honda Reynard: "First of all, the start was single file, and Pat [Carpentier] made a great move on me going into the first turn. The next big incident for me was when my engine shut down on me for a second, and Jimmy [Vasser] got past me. It only shut off for a second or two, but it felt like and eternity. Luckily, it started up again. Towards the end, it was tough getting past Pat. I almost got him on the second-to-last restart, but I finally got it done on the last restart. [Team KOOL Green team manager] Kyle Moyer said to me on the radio, 'It looks like you've got another chance here.' I knew I was quicker than Pat, I just had to get through Turn 2 well to get a run on him going into [Turn] 3, and that's what I did. Helio and I were on pretty much the same pace and he didn't make any mistakes. It's a great result for the team, and I'm happy to be back on the podium. One more thing, Firestone did a great job with the tires today."
ROBERTO MORENO, Visteon Toyota Reynard: "I just don't believe how happy I am to have this result here. It's been a tough year. Before, I was an expert on conserving fuel, but it's a different strategy to save fuel with this [Toyota] engine. Jimmy Vasser really helped me a lot with that. The car was very fast from the word, 'go.' When I came here and I knew I was going to be in the slow [qualifying] session, I thought with this place being so difficult to pass on, I thought the slow session was going to be a big disadvantage. This is Visteon's home race, and with everyone from Visteon here, it was very, very important to do well. Hopefully, all the bad luck is behind us now, and I'll be up with the top guys from now on."
* The following statement was issued jointly Sunday afternoon by Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer, IMG Motorsports President H. Kent 'Bud' Stanner and Championship Auto Racing Teams Chairman and CEO Joseph Heitzler regarding the future of the Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit: "We met earlier today for one hour to discuss the future of the race. We each left that meeting feeling that it was a productive and positive exchange of ideas regarding the future of the event. As we have said before, the race must make business sense for IMG, CART and the city. Over the next few weeks, we will further examine the alternatives and will be getting together again soon to further discuss those options. Each of us is confident there are alternatives that can work for all of us. We must now thoroughly examine and research those opportunities and determine what is in our collective best interest."
* Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard) led all 72 laps en route to Sunday's victory, the second time this season he has led every lap from the pole on the way to winning a FedEx Championship Series event. Castroneves led all 82 laps while winning at Long Beach on April 8. For the season, Castroneves has led 238 laps, raising his career total to 773, which moved him past Jimmy Vasser and into 17th-place on CART's career laps-led list. Teo Fabi is one ahead of Castroneves at 774 career laps led.
* Helio Castroneves became the first driver since Michael Andretti in 1992 to lead every lap on the way to posting multiple victories in the same season. Andretti turned the trick at Toronto and Laguna Seca.
* Castroneves delivered Honda's fourth consecutive victory on The Raceway at Belle Isle, following triumphs by Alex Zanardi in 1998, Dario Franchitti in 1999 and Castroneves last year.
* Season-best finishes were posted by runner-up Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard), third-place Roberto Moreno (Visteon Ford Reynard), and eighth-place Patrick Carpentier (Player's/Indeck Ford Reynard), while Mauricio Gugelmin (Nextel PacWest Toyota) matched a season-best result with his 10th-place finish.
* Dario Franchitti recorded his fourth consecutive top-four finish at Detroit, including a victory in 1999. He also finished fourth in 1998 and last year.
* An indication of the competitiveness of this year's FedEx Championship Series can be found in the fact that, of the 26 drivers who started Sunday's race, 25 owned points in the 2001 championship by the conclusion of Sunday's event.
* Tony Kanaan (Hollywood Honda Reynard) of Mo Nunn Racing was withdrawn prior to Sunday's Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit after sustaining a mild concussion resulting from an accident during qualifying Saturday afternoon. Kanaan, who stands 10th in the championship with 34 points, is expected to return to action for next weekend's Freightliner/G.I. Joe's 200 at Portland (Ore.) International Raceway.
* FedEx Championship Series leader Kenny Brack (Shell Ford Lola) of Team Rahal will appear on CBS-TV's Late Show with David Letterman on Tuesday night. During his appearance, Brack, a guitar player, will sit in with Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra. Letterman is one of Team Rahal's co-owners, along with three-time FedEx Championship Series champion (1986, '87 and '92) Bobby Rahal. Tuesday's Late Night will also include segments filmed at this weekend's Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix and hosted by Late Night Stage Manager "Biff" Henderson.
* CART Starter Jim Swintal flagged his 202nd CART-sanctioned event Sunday, establishing a Championship Auto Racing Teams record.
The FedEx Championship Series continues with the second event in as many weeks, the Freightliner/G.I. Joe's 200 Presented by Texaco, next Sunday, June 24 at Portland (Ore.) International Raceway.
CART-TENNECO AUTOMOTIVE GRAND PRIX OF DETROIT RESULTS
DETROIT, Mich. (AP) -- Results of Sunday's Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit FedEx Championship Series race at The Raceway on Belle Isle, with starting position in parentheses, driver, type of car, laps completed, and reason out, if any:
<pre> 1. (1) Helio Castroneves, Honda Reynard, 72. 2. (4) Dario Franchitti, Honda Reynard, 72. 3. (7) Roberto Moreno, Toyota Reynard, 72. 4. (13) Michael Andretti, Honda Reynard, 72. 5. (8) Christian Fittipaldi, Toyota Lola, 72. 6. (3) Gil de Ferran, Honda Reynard, 72. 7. (17) Cristiano da Matta, Toyota Lola, 72. 8. (6) Patrick Carpentier, Ford Reynard, 72. 9. (10) Kenny Brack, Ford Lola, 72. 10. (12) Mauricio Gugelmin, Toyota Reynard, 72. 11. (24) Max Papis, Ford Lola, 72. 12. (15) Adrian Fernandez, Honda Reynard, 72. 13. (9) Shinji Nakano, Honda Reynard, 72. 14. (23) Paul Tracy, Honda Reynard, 71, mechanical. 15. (22) Bryan Herta, Ford Reynard, 61, contact. 16. (11) Oriol Servia, Ford Lola, 56, contact. 17. (14) Nicolas Minassian, Toyota Lola, 51, mechanical. 18. (5) Jimmy Vasser, Toyota Ford, 43, contact. 19. (2) Bruno Junqueira, Toyota Lola, 41, mechanical. 20. (25) Tora Takagi, Toyota Reynard, 40, mechanical. 21. (20) Alex Tagliani, Ford Reynard, 39, contact. 22. (18) Scott Dixon, Toyota Reynard, 37, mechanical. 23. (21) Max Wilson, Ford Cosworth Lola, 36, mechanical. 24. (16) Alex Zanardi, Honda Reynard, 3, contact. 25. (21) Michel Jourdain Jr., Ford Lola, 3, contact. Tony Kanaan, Honda Reynard, withdrawn.
Time of race: 1:53:51.815. Margin of victory: 0.702 seconds. Winner's average speed: 89.008 mph. Caution flags: 4 for 14 laps. Lead changes: none. Lap leaders: Castroneves, 1-72. Series points leaders: Brack, 74; Castroneves, 69; Andretti, 48; da Matta, 46; de Ferran, 44; Tracy, 40; Vasser, 40; Dixon, 38; Franchitti, 37; Kanaan, 34.