CHAMPCAR/CART: Honda Monterrey race report

De Ferran fights flu, finishes second. Honda drivers both old and new claimed three of the top five finishing positions in today's inaugural Tecate Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix, run in front of a sellout crowd of just over 100,000 fans. Despite...

De Ferran fights flu, finishes second. Honda drivers both old and new claimed three of the top five finishing positions in today's inaugural Tecate Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix, run in front of a sellout crowd of just over 100,000 fans.

Despite battling dehydration from a case of stomach flu, Marlboro Team Penske's Gil de Ferran began his title defense today with a second place finish, less than two seconds behind fellow Brazilian Cristiano da Matta. Putting on arguably the drive of the race, Team KOOL Green's Paul Tracy stormed up from the seventh row of the grid to finish third, passing seven cars in the first ten laps alone. And making his Champ Car debut with Honda power, former series champion Michael Andretti finished fourth today for his new Team Motorola effort.

Dario Franchitti also had a strong outing, setting fastest lap of the race and leading four laps until a pit lane speeding penalty dropped him to a ninth place finish. Helio Castroneves ran third in the opening laps, but later lost the use of fourth gear and fell back to finish eighth.

In his first ram with the new Fernandez Racing team, Shinji Nakano survived a collision with Alex Zanardi and his own pit lane penalty to finish 18th. Team owner and home-country megastar Adrian Fernandez gambled on making only one pit stop, but came up three laps short of making the finish. Finally, another returning former champion, Zanardi, was one of the quickest cars in the field following the first round of pit stops, but was forced to drop out on the 391h lap after making contact with Nakano while attempting a pass in the turn two hairpin.

Quotes from the top three Honda-powered finishers in today's race:

Gil de Ferran (#2 Marlboro Team Penske Honda) Defending CART FedEx Series Champion started 3rd and finished 2nd today:

"I'm very pleased about the way things went1 today. It's unfortunate that I became sick, I haven't been able to eat anything since Saturday morning and I was really feeling bad. Once I got in the car, all of the enthusiasm from the great fans in Mexico kept me going. Second place is a great result for us considering the circumstances. I'm certainly not 100% right now."

Paul Tracy (#26 Team KOOL Green Honda) Started 15th, finished 3rd: "I'm real pleased with the job the team did this weekend. We got a little bit behind on Friday when I crashed, and as a result didn't qualify all that well. But the car was good in the race and I was able to make some passes, make some things happen out there. It was good racing today."

Michael Andretti (#39 Team Motorola Honda) Started 5th finished 4th:

"It was really slippery and the track Was breaking up in turn 12. You had to be really careful because it was like ice OUT there. It was pretty much a one-line track and passing was a problem. But fourth is pretty good with a brand new team and all. Coming out of the pits, we were boxed in by on8 of the Ganassi cars and Paul got by me, and also Brack, which is disappointing because other than that, Paul would have had a hard time getting by me. So all in all, first race, new team, new car and engine package, we'll take the fourth place points."

-Honda

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Adrian Fernandez , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Alex Zanardi , Shinji Nakano , Cristiano da Matta
Teams Team Penske