Fontana, California (November 3, 2002) -- It was an exciting 500 miles for Michael Andretti and Team Motorola at California Speedway in Fontana, California. After running up front all day, Andretti took the lead in The 500 with seven laps to go,...
Fontana, California (November 3, 2002) -- It was an exciting 500 miles for Michael Andretti and Team Motorola at California Speedway in Fontana, California. After running up front all day, Andretti took the lead in The 500 with seven laps to go, but had to settle for second place following a late race restart. Michael fashioned a brilliant restart on lap 243 to pass Jimmy Vasser and take the lead after Cristiano da Matta's blown engine brought out a yellow flag. The tables were turned when Michael's technical partner, Dario Franchitti, brought out the final yellow flag of the day after suffering a mechanical problem. CART red flagged the race on lap 246 to ensure a green flag finish, which set up a two-lap shootout between Andretti and Vasser to the checkered flag. Vasser was able to take advantage of the restart and get by Andretti. Andretti's second place finish moved him to seventh place in the CART FedEx Championship with 108 points.
The win today is Vasser's first of 2002 and his tenth career victory. Vasser led a race high 148 laps. Patrick Carpentier followed Andretti across for finish line for his second podium finish in a row. Andretti's technical partner Dario Franchitti finished tenth while Paul Tracy was forced out of the race on lap 86, also with mechanical problems.
Team Motorola will now head back to Indianapolis to begin preparations for the final CART FedEx Championship Series race of 2002 in Mexico City, Mexico.
Michael Andretti -- #39 Honda-Lola-Bridgestone
"It was really frustrating out there for Team Motorola when I saw Dario's car on fire. I knew we were a sitting duck on the restart. If it would have stayed green I don't think Jimmy (Vasser) would have had enough to get by me, so the red flag hurt us today. This year was different than past years. You couldn't slingshot past the other cars because you'd lose grip on the front end when you got behind someone. After the restart the guy leading definitely has the advantage. Running 500 miles is mentally draining, I'm really tired mentally, but I have to say that everyone drove a good clean race which is nice to see."
Today marked Michael's 308th CART Champ Car start
Michael leads all active Champ Car drivers with 307 race starts, 42 wins, 32 poles and 6607 laps led. <pre> Sunday Warm-up Race Results Position: 6th Finish: 2nd Speed: 224.772 mph Start: 4th Time: 32.497 seconds Laps Led: 37 Status: Running Points/Position: 108/7th
Kim Green -- General Manager
"Wow, so much effort goes into a 500-mile race and to add to that having to come back from Australia and having to collect ourselves and repair the race car. It's been a very long week for everybody. The boys at Team Motorola did an awesome job today. We had good pit stops and our pit strategy worked well. We were hurt by a new rule that gives CART the option to display the red flag if it looks like the race will end under yellow. Even after the red I thought Michael might be able to hold off Jimmy (Vasser) but Vasser has a lot of experience out there. All in all we had a great engine and great tires. It has been a tough two weeks but a good result for Team Motorola."