Round 19 of 20 - Honda Indy 300 SURFERS PARADISE, Australia, (Oct. 17, 1999) - Team KOOL Green's Dario Franchitti won from the pole at today's Honda Indy 300 to earn his third victory this season and sixth of his career. More importantly, ...
Round 19 of 20 - Honda Indy 300
SURFERS PARADISE, Australia, (Oct. 17, 1999) - Team KOOL Green's Dario Franchitti won from the pole at today's Honda Indy 300 to earn his third victory this season and sixth of his career. More importantly, Franchitti took over the championship lead from Juan Montoya by collecting a maximum 22 points, 20 for the victory, a single point for most laps led and one for the pole. He now leads Montoya by nine points, 209 to 200.
Franchitti's margin of victory was 2.609 seconds over runner-up Max Papis, while Adrian Fernandez claimed the third spot on the podium. Franchitti's closest challenger today was the man he was chasing for the overall championship, Juan Montoya. Montoya started sixth on the grid, but by the 31st lap had moved all the way to second behind Franchitti. On lap 35 the leaders pitted under a full course caution. Papis did not stop, taking over the lead with Franchitti re-joining in second, Fernandez in third and Montoya fourth. Franchitti took the lead back when Papis pitted on lap 46. Three laps later (lap 49), Montoya crashed in Turn 9.
Paul Tracy, who started fourth on the grid, finished seventh today. Tracy had a strong start, moving into third behind Scott Pruett. Upon review, however, the Chief Steward chose to assess Tracy a drive-thru penalty for passing Bryan Herta before the start/finish line. He served the penalty on lap 13, falling to 10th place. He drove a strong race afterwards despite experiencing boost problems to the very end. Tracy collected seven points to remain third overall with 161 points, 10 more than Michael Andretti in fourth.
The championship fight continues in two weeks with the season-finale at California Speedway on Sunday, Oct. 31.
DARIO FRANCHITTI, #27 TEAM KOOL GREEN HONDA/REYNARD/FIRESTONE: (Started 1st / Finished 1st ; Currently 1st overall with 209 PPG Cup points)
"What can you say about that? We came here this weekend, hoping for a 22-point weekend. We were just working towards that and it happened. It's pretty amazing that it actually happened. Team KOOL Green worked tremendously hard all weekend. Obviously, it's perfect to take the points lead that's what we came here to try and do.
"I heard on the radio that there was a local yellow in Turn 9. When I found out Juan was out of the race, it was a big relief because of the points situation. It's never nice when something like that happens, but the way the championship fight is going, you have to take what you can get.
"I wasn't pressured too much at all today. When Max was up ahead, he was moving away but we were saving fuel at that point. Everything worked itself out after everybody's final stop, with us back in the lead. The guys did a great job on the pit stops and the KOOL car was just wonderful.
"It's nice to win in Australia. Barry said to me 'You've got to win in Australia, mate'. We finally did it for him. It's great because his entire family is here. He can hold his head up high tonight when we have a huge party!"
PAUL TRACY, #26 TEAM KOOL GREEN HONDA/REYNARD/FIRESTONE: (Started 4th / Finished 7th ; Currently 3rd overall with 161 PPG Cup points)
"We got screwed on the start. In the race, we lost something in the electronics or the boost right after the first stop. I was really slow coming onto the straightaways. We struggled and just couldn't keep up on the straights. As soon as I went to full throttle, it would stumble and fall. But the KOOL car was superior in the corners; I could catch right up under braking. Then the field would pull six or seven car lengths ahead of me on the straightaway. That's how Tony [Kanaan] and other guys passed me today. I think we might have finished on the podium quite easily even with the boost problems we had. At the end of the day we were seventh and scored some points. We'll take it."
BARRY GREEN, OWNER OF TEAM KOOL GREEN:
"Fantastic! To win at home in Australia is just incredible. We won pole, we did what we had to do. Paul had a little problem with his turbo, but he still drove a heck of race to finish seventh. What can I say, the Team KOOL Green boys had a perfect weekend almost. It was a brilliant drive today by Dario, but getting the pole position was equally brilliant. Winning the pole gave him the confidence going into the race today. Then the great pit stops from the boys, especially that last one. This is what we live for!"
ON PAUL TRACY'S DRIVE-THRU PENALTY: "I'm very disappointed on the call by the stewards on the start. Maybe they've got a better seat than I do. But it looked like it was evasive action by Paul. I don't understand. You can' t stay in the line and get hit from the rear if he thinks the car in front of him slowing. And that's what I saw, but it's the Chief Steward's call. At least they took some time to review it and that was their call. I'm very disappointed."