After an early spin, Michael Andretti nearly repeated his Toronto victory performance today at Road America, but instead came up just a couple of seconds shy of first time winner Bruno Junqueira at the Motorola 220 CART FedEx Championship Series...
After an early spin, Michael Andretti nearly repeated his Toronto victory performance today at Road America, but instead came up just a couple of seconds shy of first time winner Bruno Junqueira at the Motorola 220 CART FedEx Championship Series race.
Just as in Toronto, it was a tap from rookie Scott Dixon that sent Andretti spinning. The contact occurred at turn five on the first green flag lap of a race that was first delayed by heavy rain showers, then stopped by drainage problems that flooded one section of the four-mile circuit. Andretti resumed from his spin in 18th place, and then began his aggressive run through the field.
Taking an opposite, fuel conserving strategy, Adrian Fernandez produced his second podium finish of the 2001 season, with the team owner/driver actually running out of methanol just two turns after taking the checkered flag. Helio Castroneves led a race-high total of 24 laps today, later falling back to a seventh place finish. But that was more than enough to move the Marlboro Team Penske driver to the top of the driver's championship for the first time this season. Teammate Gil de Ferran finished fifth, and also moved up in the standings. He is now third, 11 points out of the lead.
Mo Nunn Racing's Tony Kanaan and Alex Zanardi finished 12th and 13th, after their early gamble to change to dry weather `slick' tires was negated by the race stoppage. Shinji Nakano lost positions late in the race when he had to make a final fuel stop, dropping him to 15th. Dario Franchitti's race was halted by mechanical problems and Paul Tracy was involved in an early crash that also eliminated Bryan Herta and Max Wilson.
Michael Andretti (#39 Team Motorola Honda) Started 7th, finished 2nd, moves to fourth in the driver's championship: "At the start, Scott Dixon knocked me up the back again, like he did at Toronto. I thought that might be a good omen, since I won there! It almost happened, but Christian (Fittipaldi) must not have seen me. I was along side of him, if not a little bit ahead, when he turned into me and we banged wheels. That's when Bruno was able to pass me. It was frustrating but, after the way the day went, I will take second place at my sponsor's home race."
Adrian Fernandez (#51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Fernandez Racing Honda) Started 26th, finished 3rd, second podium finish of 2001: "It was a very difficult race. The track conditions were changing all the time and you did not know how your car was going to react. After the restart I was pretty happy, my car was pretty quick and I had a good dice with Michael (Andretti). At the end, Jon (Ward, team engineer) made the right call. It was a little frustrating having to save fuel and not be able to fight with Michael of Bruno (Junqueira), but I ran out of fuel in the second turn of the cool down lap. That's how close it was for us, so it worked out okay."
Gil de Ferran (#1 Marlboro Team Penske Honda) Started 4th, finished 5th: "The car was really, really fast today and I actually thought at one point we were going to win this thing. Unfortunately we got stuck in traffic and we lost a lot of time behind Dixon and Jourdain. While there was a lot of passing, it all seemed to be banzai passing. After our last pit stop we were able to get out of the pits before Helio and I thought we were set to win. However, there was a group of guys who came in to top off during the last yellow and they were able to stretch their lead before pitting and get back out before us, but that's the way the dice fall. The good thing is that both of us closed up the points -- Helio has moved into first and I'm only 11 behind in third."
Helio Castroneves (#3 Marlboro Team Penske Honda) Started 6th, finished 7th, new driver's championship points leader: "I'm very happy with today's result because we're leaving Elkhart Lake leading the championship. We got lucky on our strategy by staying out when the leaders pitted slicks, which put us in the lead. Then the red flag let us refuel, put on slicks, and stay in front. We ended up getting another point for most laps led and at this time in the season, every point is important."