Jimmy Vasser captures first victory of the season at the California Speedway. Notes: VASSER WINS IN DOMINATING FASHION - Team Rahal driver Jimmy Vasser led the most laps and won his first race of the season and became the first repeat winner...
Jimmy Vasser captures first victory of the season at the California Speedway.
VASSER WINS IN DOMINATING FASHION - Team Rahal driver Jimmy Vasser led the most laps and won his first race of the season and became the first repeat winner (1998) today at the California Speedway. Following a red flag with five laps to go to get a stranded Dario Franchitti, Vasser passed runner-up Michael Andretti just past the start/finish line and cruised to the victory. Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier continued his strong season with a third-place finish and his second consecutive podium appearance (second - Australia).
VICTORY IS THIRD IN FOUR YEARS FOR FORD AT FONTANA - Jimmy Vasser's win today at the California Speedway is the third in the last four years for Ford and Cosworth at the California Speedway. Adrian Fernandez won in 1999, Christian Fittipaldi was victorious in 2000 and Vasser claimed the win today. In the six CART races held at the California Speedway since 1997, Ford has powered its drivers to 10 podium appearances, including three victories, three runner-up finishes and four third-place finishes.
JIMMY VASSER (#8 Shell Ford) - Finished 1st
WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS BEFORE THE FINAL RESTART? "I thought it was to my advantage. I thought Cristiano (da Matta) was in a good spot. We had a pretty cushion then but Michael (Andretti) got around me on the restart and I don't know if I would've gotten by him. His car was working pretty good and he was using a lot of the track and the air he knew I had to have to get a good run on him. I would get close but it was much more difficult than it was on the restart. The red flag and then the restart really helped us out."
PATRICK CARPENTIER (#32 Player's/Indeck Ford) - Finished 3rd
"The team did a great job throughout the race, they gave me a great car and did a great job on the pit stops. At the end we just got a little bit loose and I don't know what happened. I don't know if something broke but I got a little loose and I just couldn't follow these guys anymore. But we got third place and that's great."
WHEN DID YOUR HANDLING START TO GO AWAY? "When we put the last set of tires on the car coming out of the pits the car was really, really unpredictable and really loose. I couldn't hold it on the track flat out so I couldn't race these guys, but it was a good finish."
THIS WAS A DIFFERENT RACE FROM WHAT WE'VE SEEN IN THE PAST WITH GUYS RUNNING OUT ON THEIR OWN. "I was surprised. We shortened the rear wing a little bit and maybe we should go back to the other one because we keep running around flat out and a lot of guys broke their engines. We kept running a little bit too much by ourselves - I like it when it's a little bit closer."
IT WAS A VERY FAST PACE TOO, WASN'T IT? "Very fast. My hat's off to Jimmy (Vasser). He led most of the race and was up at the front and wide open all day long. He was really fast so he deserves it."
MICHEL JOURDAIN, JR. (#9 Gigante Ford) - Finished 13th
"It's very, very sad. We had everything today to win and I was saving everything and lifting as much as I could. I think that by coming in a few laps after everybody and with the couple of changes we could've made we were looking very, very good to win this thing. Jimmy and I had the best cars out there today and we were just saving everything for the end."
TALK ABOUT THE AFFECT OF THE DRAFT HERE. "I think (the new wing) is much better and much safer. When you are fast you are able to pull away from somebody and I like it much better this year."
SCOTT ROEMBKE (Chief Operating Officer, Team Rahal)
"Something happened there in the back end but they knew we were here all day and Michel (Jourdain, Jr.) just drove a great race. Our pit strategy was looking pretty good there for the end and I think we would've had something for them. Ford gave us a really strong motor today and Jimmy (Vasser) has led most of this thing so we just have to bring him home."
MARIO DOMINGUEZ (#55 Herdez Ford) - Finished 16th
"It's too bad it blew up. We were doing good pit stops and the team just said to hang on and wait until the end. The car was very loose but it would've still been nice to have finished and I think we could've finished well."