DETROIT (June 18, 2000) - Helio Castroneves of Marlboro Team Penske claimed his first career FedEx Championship Series victory and became the seventh different winner in seven events Sunday when he claimed the Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of ...
DETROIT (June 18, 2000) - Helio Castroneves of Marlboro Team Penske claimed his first career FedEx Championship Series victory and became the seventh different winner in seven events Sunday when he claimed the Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit on The Raceway at Belle Isle.
In claiming the Champ-Car record 101st victory for Team Penske, the jubilant Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard) allowed CART to break a record of six different winners to start the season, established in 1991. The record for different winners in a season is 10, set last year, leaving the current group of FedEx Championship Series drivers three shy with 13 events remaining.
He finished 4.416 seconds ahead of Max Papis (Miller Lite Ford Reynard) of Team Rahal, who began the current seven-race streak with a victory in the season opener at Homestead.
Third place went to rookie Oriol Servia (Telefonica Toyota Reynard), whose podium result was a season best and the first in the history of PPI Motorsports.
Castroneves inherited the lead when polesitter and 1999 CART All Star Juan Montoya (Target Toyota Lola) of Target Chip Ganassi Racing, who had led the first 58 laps, exited due to a mechanical failure on Lap 61. Castroneves, running second at the time, inherited the advantage and steadily built upon it until completing the 84th lap on the 2.346-mile temporary street circuit. He averaged 97.401 miles per hour en route to the victory, which topped his previous career-best runner-up finishes at Milwaukee in 1998, Gateway in 1999 and Long Beach this year.
Montoya, the defending FedEx Championship Series and reigning Indianapolis 500 champion, finished 18th.
Castroneves joined fellow winners Papis at Homestead; Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard) at Long Beach; Adrian Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford Reynard) at Rio de Janeiro; Michael Andretti (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola) at Japan; Gil de Ferran (Marlboro Honda Reynard) at Nazareth and Montoya at Milwaukee.
Papis, a 1999 CART All Star, earned the fifth podium finish of his career and moved from ninth place into a tie for fourth in the championship with 47 points. He is deadlocked with Castroneves' teammate, Gil de Ferran of Marlboro Team Penske, who finished ninth.
Paul Tracy of Team KOOL Green, another '99 CART All Star, continues to lead the championship with 59 points despite going scoreless for the second consecutive event. Tracy was excluded from the remainder of the event after making contact with crew member Jeff Simon during a pit stop on Lap 58. He was running among the top-10 drivers at the time, but finished 20th.
Fourth place went to Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard), a '99 CART All Star who recorded his fourth top-four finish in as many appearances at Detroit, including a victory last year. Patrick Carpentier (Player's Forsythe Racing Team Ford Reynard) finished fifth, his third top-five finish in four starts this season.
The Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit launched a run that will see six FedEx Championship Series events contested during a seven-week span. The series continues next Sunday with The Freightliner/G.I. Joe's 200 Presented by Texaco at Portland (Ore.) International Raceway.
HELIO CASTRONEVES, Marlboro Honda Reynard: "I'm very happy. I knew it would come, the only question was when. I'm still looking at myself, pulling my hair and saying 'did it really happen?' This morning I knew I was going to have a dream day. I'm just the kind of person, I express myself. Today was my day, I'm very happy. We have to keep working because the championship is very tough. I'm very happy for the guys on Marlboro Team Penske, Honda, and Firestone. I was very cool, very focused today. I didn't have problems with the car or backmarkers or anything. I don't like to be conservative but it paid off today. I was in the zone, in the moment. Now they will recognize my name without the dash (he recently changed his last name from Castro-Neves to Castroneves). Maybe that's what did it. The dash was slowing me down a little bit."
MAX PAPIS, Miller Lite Ford Reynard: "First of all, congratulations to Helio for his first win. It was a fantastic day for the Miller Ford team today. Today was a good day for the guys in the pits, but the second pit stop was a little chaotic. It was not a very good situation there. Helio raced very strong today. The Ford engine showed all the progress we've been making for the last year and a half and we're looking good for the championship."
ORIOL SERVIA, Telefonica Toyota Reynard: "I came here with a lot of expectations. I wanted to do well. I showed some potential in Milwaukee, I was racing with Michael Andretti pretty hard, but then I got into the marbles and had to make another pit stop, so I missed my chance to get on the podium. There was a lot of pressure on myself to do well. You saw the stops the PPI team did today, they were great and it was easy."
When Juan Montoya (Target Toyota Lola) led 59 laps Sunday, he moved into sole possession of eighth place on the CART career laps-led list with 1,495. By leading the first 58 laps, Montoya passed ninth-place Tom Sneva and Alex Zanardi (1,447) as well as past eighth-place Danny Sullivan (1,457). Montoya leads the FedEx Championship Series with 541 laps led this season, over 400 more than second-place Gil de Ferran.
Montoya has also led at least the first 58 laps of each of the past four FedEx Championship Series events. He led the first 132 at Japan, the first 76 at Nazareth and the first 94 at Milwaukee in addition to leading the first 58 Sunday.
Montoya has now earned eight of the 14 bonus championship points available to date for either winning the pole position or leading the most laps. He has swept pole and laps-led points at Japan, Nazareth and Milwaukee, in addition to Detroit.
When Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard) took the lead on Lap 61, it marked the first time he had led a FedEx Championship Series event since leading 30 laps at Portland last year.
Castroneves became the second driver this season to record his first Champ Car win, following Max Papis' (Miller Lite Ford Reynard) win in the season opener at Homestead. That matches last year's total of two first-time winners over 20 events: Christian Fittipaldi at Road America and Tony Kanaan at Michigan Speedway.
Rookie Oriol Servia (Telefonica Toyota Reynard) provided PPI Motorsports with its first podium finish since team owner Cal Wells III joined the FedEx Championship Series in 1995. The team's previous best finishes were fourths recorded by Servia's teammate, Cristiano da Matta (Pioneer/MCI WorldCom Toyota Reynard) at Nazareth last year and Rio de Janeiro and Japan this year.
Rookie Takuya Kurosawa (Sports Today Ford Lola) of Dale Coyne Racing scored the first championship point of his FedEx Championship Series career with a 12th-place finish. He accomplished the first despite being assessed a black-flag penalty for erratic driving on Lap 73.
Castroneves's victory was the 34th win for an Indy Lights graduate since 1993 when Paul Tracy recorded the first victory for a Lights grad at Long Beach. It was the fourth win of the season for a graduate of CART's "Ladder System," which also includes the Toyota Atlantic Championship. The other winners are Tracy at Long Beach; Adrian Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford Reynard) at Rio de Janeiro and Michael Andretti (Big Kmart/Texaco Havoline Ford Lola) at Japan.
The win by Castroneves was the 16th in a row on temporary street course for a Honda-powered driver, dating to the start of the 1998 season. It was also Honda's third straight win at Detroit, following wins by Alex Zanardi in 1998 and Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard) last year.
Sunday's Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit marked the third time in seven events this season that three different engine manufacturers have been represented on the podium. Sunday's podium trio was Castroneves, representing Honda; Max Papis (Miller Lite Ford Reynard) and Oriol Servia (Telefonica Toyota Reynard). Three different manufacturers were also represented on podiums at Rio de Janeiro, where Adrian Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford Reynard), Jimmy Vasser (Target Toyota Lola) and Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard) finished first through third, respectively; and at Nazareth, where Gil de Ferran (Marlboro Honda Reynard), Mauricio Gugelmin (Nextel PacWest Mercedes) and Kenny Brack (Shell Ford Reynard) shared the podium.
Tarso Marques (Panasonic/Swift Ford Swift) earned the Budweiser Hard Charger Award, given to the driver who improved the most from start to finish in the 24-driver field. He started 21st and finished a season-best 10th. Meanwhile, Michel Jourdain Jr. (Herdez Mercedes Lola) finished eighth for a season-best result, improving on 11th at Long Beach.
The three-day estimated attendance of 138,000 marked an increase of 6,000 over last year's event.
The FedEx Championship Series continues Sunday with Round 8, The Freightliner/G.I. Joe's 200 Presented by Texaco at Portland International Raceway in Portland, Ore.