TOUGH DAY FOR TEAM KOOL GREEN AT SEASON-FINALE FONTANA, Calif., (Nov. 1, 1998) - Team KOOL Green's Paul Tracy was four laps from winning the CART season-ending 500-mile race at California Speedway, as he prepared for a restart after the...
TOUGH DAY FOR TEAM KOOL GREEN AT SEASON-FINALE
FONTANA, Calif., (Nov. 1, 1998) - Team KOOL Green's Paul Tracy was four laps from winning the CART season-ending 500-mile race at California Speedway, as he prepared for a restart after the eighth caution of the race. Greg Moore, Jimmy Vasser and Alex Zanardi were lined up behind Tracy and looking to get a jump on him with the green flag. As the pace car lights went out, Tracy was too hard on the throttle and spun off the course to end his race.
The yellow flag came out again to collect Tracy's car from the infield, leaving Greg Moore with the task of holding his lead in a one-lap dash to the finish and $1 million to the winner. With the green flag, Vasser and Zanardi both flew past Moore. Vasser won the race, collecting the $1 million race-prize and another $500,000 for finishing second overall in the championship. Moore was able to re-pass Zanardi for second place, with Zanardi in third.
Dario Franchitti was second in the championship heading into today's race. Starting from the eighth spot on the grid, Franchitti was running second when the engine blew in his KOOL Reynard 112 laps into the race. Franchitti finished 22nd in the race and third overall in the championship with 160 points. His teammate Tracy finished 13th overall with 61 points.
DARIO FRANCHITTI, #27 TEAM KOOL GREEN REYNARD/HONDA/FIRESTONE: (Started 8th / Finished 22nd, Finishes 3rd in the championship with 160 PPG Cup points)
"You never know how this thing could have turned out, but the KOOL car was running really, really well. There wasn't any warning on the engine. I just heard a noise and then the engine let go. But I think Team KOOL Green did a wonderful job this weekend, having run so bad at Michigan earlier this year. We've worked really hard since then and we were running up front today. I've learned a lot about racing on superspeedways since my first race at Michigan last year. It really felt great to be competitive all weekend and to be challenging for the win. I'm just disappointed we couldn't finish the race."
On finishing third in the PPG Cup standings: "I would have loved to finish second overall in the championship. But I don't care about the money. One or two hundred thousand (dollars) up or down doesn't really matter. Finishing second would have been great, but third overall is still a good reflection of the kind of season we had. Team KOOL Green was the team to beat in the second half of the season."
PAUL TRACY, #26 TEAM KOOL GREEN REYNARD/HONDA/FIRESTONE: (Started 12th / Finished 14th; Finishes 13th in the championship with 61 PPG Cup points)
"From my standpoint, I dropped the ball. The guys at Team KOOL Green worked their butts off all season and they deserved to finish the year on a high note. I just tried to do the restart the way I'd done the previous one and get a good jump, and it just drove around on me. It was my mistake. I'm just sorry for the guys and everybody from KOOL, Klein Tools, Honda, Firestone and everybody else on Team KOOL Green. We'll regroup and start getting ready for next season."
BARRY GREEN, TEAM KOOL GREEN OWNER:
"Team KOOL Green can't lose sight of the fact that we had had two fast cars, two fast drivers, we ran up front and had a chance of winning it today. We obviously made a mistake four laps from the end, but this is not a low day for us. Paul had to be very aggressive on the restart to hold them off and he was trying to do that, and it just got away from him. I guess that just sums up our season. Paul has made a big difference for this team and we'll be back next season with a big punch.
"It was a tremendous drive for Dario today. It was only his third 500-miler and he was fast; he was cruising. Unfortunately, we had an equipment failure. But Dario knows now that he can run up front on these superspeedways and that was a question going into this race."