Helio Castroneves returned to the "scene of the climb" today, the scene of his first Champ Car race win here a year ago, and became the first driver in the history of the Tenneco Grand Prix of Detroit to successfully defend his title, leading from...
Helio Castroneves returned to the "scene of the climb" today, the scene of his first Champ Car race win here a year ago, and became the first driver in the history of the Tenneco Grand Prix of Detroit to successfully defend his title, leading from start to finish for his second victory of the season. It also was the second win of the year for Honda power, and increased the company's lead in the competitive CART Manufacturer's Championship battle.
Castroneves, who got his nickname of "Spiderman" by climbing the spectator fence after winning here last year, was dominant again today, holding off any early challenge from rookie Bruno Junquiera and a late charge by Dario Franchitti with equal ease. It was the Brazilian's 5th career win and allowed him to close to within five points of championship leader Kenny Brack.
Dario Franchitti had his best result of the season to date with a second place run in his Team KOOL Green Honda, passing Patrick Carpentier after a ate-race restart. Michael Andretti's fourth place finish also was the result of several late race moves; while Gil de Ferran dropped from a possible top three finish to eighth after his engine briefly cut out on lap 55.
Paul Tracy's gamble on an aggressive race strategy came up just short as ran out of fuel on the final lap. And it was a short day for Mo Nunn Racing as Tony Kanaan did not start the race due to a mild concussion suffered in a qualifying crash yesterday and teammate Alex Zanardi was eliminated in a crash on just the third lap.
Helio Castroneves (#3 Marlboro Team Penske Honda) Started 1st, finished 1st; first repeat winner in the history of the Detroit Grand Prix. Both his and Honda's 2nd win of the season; 4th consecutive win for Honda here in Detroit; extends Honda's lead in the CART Manufacturer's Championship. Honda now has 108 points, followed by Toyota with 94 and Ford with 81: "What a day! It's a dream come true to repeat here as winner, where it all started for me a year ago. At the beginning I was a little bit concerned about (Bruno) Junqueira as he was putting on a little bit of pressure, but otherwise everything went about as well as could be expected. I knew I had a good car and that Honda had worked very hard to give us a good engine as well. The car ran very smooth all day - like silk - it just got better and better all race long."
Dario Franchitti (#27 Team KOOL Green Honda) Started 4th, finished 2nd, best result so far this season: "The start was pretty much a single-file affair, but Pat (Carpentier) made a really good move to get past me. Passing Pat late in the race was pretty difficult. I thought I had a pretty good run on him on one of the restarts, but couldn't quite pull alongside, but then I was finally able to make it stick after the last restart. It's a great result for the team and I'm happy to be back on the podium again."
Michael Andretti (#39 Team Motorola Honda) Started 13th, finished 4th, moves to 3rd in the driver's points standings: "That was about the best we could do from where we started. The team called a great race and the car was awesome all day long. I think maybe we turned the fastest lap of the race near the end there. Track position is just so critical here, but I think we were able to capitalize on mistakes made by some other guys, so I'm pretty happy right now."
Gil de Ferran (#1 Marlboro Team Penske Honda) Started 3rd, finished 8th: "The car was running great all day long and then it just shut off, I don't know why. I was clicking every button I could find and eventually the engine restarted. But by then I had dropped from third to 8th or 11th or something. We were unfortunate today, we should have had a podium finish. But we'll see what happens next time."
Adrian Fernandez (#51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Fernandez Racing Honda) Started 15th, finished 12th: "The first segment the car was good until the overtake button failed and I lost some positions. After that I would have to hold the button down when I wanted to use it. After the last stint, the car as not very forgiving, very nervous. Shinji was quicker than me and giving me pressure, so I was just making sure I did not make mistakes on the restarts. We got a point, but we just need to keep on working and getting more points each race."