CHAMPCAR/CART: Honda Laguna Seca race notes

Honda Clinches Manufacturer's Championship A third place finish for defending series champion Gil de Ferran was more than enough today for Honda to clinch the 2001 CART Manufacturer's Championship. It is the company's fourth manufacturer's title...

Honda Clinches Manufacturer's Championship

A third place finish for defending series champion Gil de Ferran was more than enough today for Honda to clinch the 2001 CART Manufacturer's Championship. It is the company's fourth manufacturer's title since entering Champ Car competition at the start of the 1994 season, and the third in the last four years.

Today's Honda Grand Prix of Monterey turned into a battle of pit strategy as a large number of on-track incidents resulted in a race record eight caution periods. The Marlboro Team Penske duo of de Ferran and Helio Castroneves dominated the speed charts all weekend, but during the last third of the race de Ferran elected not to challenge for the lead, instead protecting his points advantage as he seeks to repeat his driver's championship. Castroneves was delayed by pit lane contact with Paul Tracy and the resulting damaged front suspension.

Tracy's day also ended due to damage from the contact with Castroneves, and KOOL Green teammate Dario Franchitti ended up out of the race after contact with Christian Fittipaldi. Tony Kanaan ran in the lead pack all day to finish 8th, while new teammate Casey Mears earned his first championship points for Mo Nunn Racing with an 11th place run.

Electrical failure ended Shinji Nakano's run after just 41 laps, while Adrian Fernandez rounded out the top 10 finishers today as one of those benefiting from good pit calls today. Finally, Michael Andretti ended up just outside of the points after a first lap spin. He finished 14th and was eliminated from title contention as a result.

Gil de Ferran (#1 Marlboro Team Penske Honda) Started 1st, finished 3rd: "The car was handling very well today, and I was definitely driving for the win at the beginning of the race. I've been saying all weekend that there will come a time when I have to drive for the Championship and the last few laps of the race proved to be that time. The thought of going for the win didn't even go through my mind because I needed the points. I knew Kenny (Brack) and Michael (Andretti) were out of contention, so at that point I was just trying as hard as I could to do my job and bring it home third. We had a good result today and it will be interesting to see where we stand after Australia."

Helio Castroneves (#3 Marlboro Team Penske Honda) Started 2nd, finished 6th: "We had a good start. We decided to pit on lap 18 when it went yellow given multiple cars were involved in the incident and there was a lot of debris so we thought it would take longer to go green; and we thought that more cars would follow us in. When the leaders made their first stop, we took the lead. We had a good second stop, but the exit to the pits isn't level and when I got side-by-side with (Paul) Tracy, my car swerved to the right causing me to bang wheels with him. It was a shame because I hurt my hand when the steering wheel snapped back, and it bent the right front upper wishbone. Luckily we were able to keep going. Then CART decided to close the pits on lap 51 which really hurt our strategy. We would have been in great shape if that hadn't happened. We need to move forward and think positively."

Tony Kanaan (#55 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Honda) Started 6th, finished 8th: "It was another tough result for a driver and team that did everything that was asked of it. Next time I think I should try something different: I'll start dead last, pit seven times and win the race! It's all about strategy. Strategy, strategy, strategy. I don't mean to take anything away from Max (Papis). I'm really happy for Max, because he deserves another chance to make people notice and appreciate what he does out there. Actually, we did what we could. We had pretty good pit stops. The car ran great. It wasn't a race-winning car today, but it should have been at least in the top four. Sometimes, it just doesn't matter that you don't have the best car out there, and the cleanest pit stops. It's all about strategy. It's that competitive out there. Hey, I also want to say that I'm happy for my new teammate, Casey. He ran a smart race for the second time in a row and scored some points for us. That's just great for him and the Pioneer-WorldCom team."

-HPD-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Casey Mears , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Adrian Fernandez , Christian Fittipaldi , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Shinji Nakano , Mo Nunn
Teams Team Penske