CHAMPCAR/CART: Fontana: Team Kool Green race report

Tough day for Team Kool Green at Fontana. FONTANA, California - Just when Team KOOL Green's Dario Franchitti thought he could close in on Bruno Junqueira for second place in the CART FedEx Championship points race and the half-million dollar ...

Tough day for Team Kool Green at Fontana.

FONTANA, California - Just when Team KOOL Green's Dario Franchitti thought he could close in on Bruno Junqueira for second place in the CART FedEx Championship points race and the half-million dollar bonus which accompanies it, fate stepped in and dealt the Scot a frustrating blow. Rather than posting a top eight finish, ahead of Junqueira, in The 500 at California Speedway, Franchitti suffered an electrical failure with just eight laps remaining and was forced to retire from the race when his car caught fire. Franchitti was credited with tenth place in the race.

After posting extremely promising lap times in the weekends three practice sessions and qualifying fifth for Sunday's five hundred mile race, Franchitti's teammate Paul Tracy looked poised to make a solid run for the win at Fontana. Tracy, who jumped into second position by Lap two and the lead on lap 17, appeared to be a top contender for a podium spot early in the race but when an electrical failure on lap 86 caused his throttle to stick open, the Canadian pulled into the pit lane and was told his day was done.

Jimmy Vasser claimed the victory at Fontana and marked his first Champ Car win of the 2002 season. Tracy and Franchitti's technical partner, Michael Andretti was second, while Patrick Carpentier was third.

Cristiano da Matta, who clinched the 2002 FedEx Championship in Miami last month, leads the points race with 221. Bruno Junqueira is second with 148 points, while Carpentier is third with 145 points. Franchitti drops down to fourth place in the championship with 138 points, while Paul Tracy is tenth with 101 points. Michael Andretti moves into seventh place with 108 points.

Today's race also added $10,000 to the 100 Black Men of America program. The partnership, which is based on the team's pit stop performances, provides funds to the 100's urban technology program. Brown and Williamson's total donation to the 100 Black Men of America for the 2002 season is now $82,000 which after the two-year partnership means B&W donated more than $300,000 to the 100 Black Men of America.

Paul Tracy - #26 KOOL Honda-Lola-Bridgestone

"Obviously it's a disappointment for everyone at Team KOOL Green. We were fast and running at the front the whole time. When we came in for our last pit stop, something went wrong with the ignition and the motor shut off. After that the throttle started sticking wide open and the engine kept shutting off. We went to the back of the pack and we never seemed to run properly again. I don't know what it is with me and this track, but every year I have problems finishing the race. It's very frustrating because I've been at the front of the pack every year. I'm just really disappointed with what happened today, I felt like it was my best opportunity to win here. The track is good, the pace is fast and it's stringing the field out a bit, everyone seems to be really going for it. I just wish I had been able to finish today."

Warm up
Position: 5th
Speed 225.132 mph
Time: 32.445 seconds

Race
Started: 5th
Finished: 17th
Laps Completed: 86
Laps Led: 15
Points Earned: 0
Championship Standing: 10th with 101 points

John Anderson - Team KOOL Green race consultant

"Paul has lots of luck at this track, unfortunately for all of us, it's all bad. We're not sure what the problem is, except that it's probably electrical, and some connection between the throttle and the engine management system. We changed the ECU (Electronic Control Unit) and tried to stay out there to see if we could get it to start talking to itself. We stayed on the track because we knew we'd lose less time out there than in the pit. It's a tough break, we had a great car, it's very disappointing for all of us."

Dario Franchitti - #27 KOOL Honda-Lola-Bridgestone

"The car really wasn't good all day, the worst part was that we took a lot of wing out instead of just a small amount and I got pretty loose then. Had that not happened we might have been able to do something about a strategy. It's a strange end, after running 242 laps to have this happen, well it's not great for Team KOOL Green."

Warm up
Position: 4th
Speed 226.409 mph
Time: 32.262 seconds

Race
Started: 9th
Finished: 10th
Laps Completed: 242
Laps Led: 16
Points Earned: 3
Championship Standing: 4th with 138 points

Allen McDonald - Chief Engineer

"We don't exactly know what happened yet, it may be an electrical problem relating to some heat at the back of the car. We started to lose more and more information on the gear position and then we got stuck in gear. We didn't have a good car at the beginning of the race but we worked on it. Dario seemed like he could run with most people, but in the end we couldn't get to the finish. It's disappointing."

- TKG -

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Bruno Junqueira , Patrick Carpentier , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , John Anderson , Cristiano da Matta
Teams Williams