CHAMPCAR/CART: Houston Ford Racing notes

CHRISTIAN FITTIAPLDI LEADS ALL FORD DRIVERS WITH A SIXTH-PLACE FINISH IN THE TEXACO/HAVOLINE GRAND PRIX OF HOUSTON - Fittipaldi, who started the race seventh, posted his second straight top-six finish in the last two street events (fourth in ...

CHRISTIAN FITTIAPLDI LEADS ALL FORD DRIVERS WITH A SIXTH-PLACE FINISH IN THE TEXACO/HAVOLINE GRAND PRIX OF HOUSTON - Fittipaldi, who started the race seventh, posted his second straight top-six finish in the last two street events (fourth in Vancouver). Jimmy Vasser captured his first victory of the season while teammate Juan Montoya finished second. Points leader Gil de Ferran (159 points), who came home third, extended his lead in the championship chase to 25 over Paul Tracy (134 points), who finished fourth. Roberto Moreno (131 points), who finished 11th, is third in the points standings while Michael Andretti (127 points) and Adrian Fernandez (127 points), are tied for fourth after finishing 13th and seventh, respectively, on Sunday.

KENNY BRACK CLINCHES JIM TRUEMAN "ROOKIE OF THE YEAR" AWARD - With his 15th-place finish in the Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston, Kenny Brack clinched the Jim Trueman "Rookie of the Year" Award. Brack has scored 118 points this season, leading Oriol Servia by 48 points with two races remaining on the 200 schedule. The Team Rahal driver now ranks seventh in the overall FedEx points and has posted eight top-five finishes and qualified in the top 10 in 13 races this season.

GOOD SHOWING FOR DALE COYNE RACING - Dale Coyne Racing drivers Alex Barron and Tarso Marques had a strong weekend, qualifying 23rd and 13th, respectively, for the race with Barron finishing 12th and Marques 17th. Barron earned the "Budweiser Hard Charger" Award for his effort after beginning the race in the 12th row and working his way up to 12th where he scored one championship point. Marques turned in perhaps his best race of the season on Sunday, consistently running in the top 10 for 72 laps until a transmission failure ended his day prematurely.

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI (#11 Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 6th - HOW WAS YOUR RACE? - "It was okay. I couldn't attack today and I was just on the defensive all the time. That was all we had in the car today. The engine ran okay for the whole race and we did what we could do today. We came here pretty confident but we weren't as competitive as we hoped we would be."

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (#40 Tecate/Quaker State Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 7th - "It was good to finish today. This morning in the warm-up we had some engine problems so we couldn't really try some things that we wanted to do. At the end the car was okay and the second set of tires were really good. I really didn't have too much fight from behind me so I wasn't too worried. I was just trying to push Christian (Fittipaldi) a little bit. My water bottle broke, wouldn't work, and my earplug came out and I was having a lot of noise in my ear and I was getting a big headache and was getting pretty nasty to be honest. I made two mistakes when I was behind (Roberto) Moreno. I managed to catch up and pass him and managed to pass someone else and stay there, save some fuel and stay in contact with the leaders. I'm happy with the result because it was a really physical day." WHERE WOULD YOU PUT YOUR CHANCES FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP? - "At the moment we are not qualifying well and we're not putting good cars on the track. For the race they're okay, they're not fantastic, and that's difficult because then we always have to come from behind. We do everything we can do to get to the front but sometimes it's not enough. What we need to do is perform better in qualifying and try to do a better job so we can start from the front and compete for the championship. The battle is not over but it's getting to the end."

ALEX BARRON (#19 SPORTS TODAY Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 12th - "The race went really well. We had a good car in the race, the motor was really well on the straights and I think more than anything we got a good handle on the chassis heading to Australia, and I think it's going to get better and better for these last two races." WERE YOU FEELING ANY EFFECTS OF THE HEAT? - "It was just humid. I think everyone was suffering from the humidity a little bit, but it's not really a long race so it didn't us physically." THERE WERE A LOT OF GUYS BANGING EACH OTHER AROUND OUT THERE. - "A lot of people were trying some crazy moves and when you get off line here there's no grip and a lot of guys were trying to pass in the wrong spots and it just wasn't working out. The tires were going off for everyone at the end and everybody was leaned out on their fuel throughout the day so it was a struggle to find out the right pit strategy you needed. But it came out pretty well for us and hopefully it'll give us some momentum for the future."

MICHAEL ANDRETTI (#6 Big Kmart/Texaco-Havoline Ford Cosworth) - Finished 13th - FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE DO YOU FEEL THAT THE CHAMPIONSHIP IS OUT OF REACH? - "I don't know. I'm not going to give up yet, but it's just a shame because we gave away some more points again. We've scored something like two points in the last five races I think, and that's not good." HOW DID THE HEAT AFFECT THE CARS OUT THERE TODAY? - "It was hot out there driving, but it was the same for everybody. It's a tough track, but it was the same for everybody and not a big deal." WHAT HAPPENED WITH YOU AND (ALEX) TAGLIANI? - "I was turning into the corner and (Alex) Tagliani just, 'boom!' hit me in the rear and suddenly I was facing the wrong way. He just put his nose where it shouldn't have been, I guess. I thought he hit that bump, locked his brakes and went right into me. It's a shame." WITH TWO RACES LEFT CAN YOU STILL MAKE A CHARGE AT THE CHAMPIONSHIP? - "I don't know. This hurt us a lot but I'm not going to make any predictions. There's still two races left in the season and our luck has to turn around sometime."

KENNY BRACK (#8 Shell Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 15th - WHAT HAPPENED OUT THERE? - "All that I saw was the back of the Players' car when I had maybe 20 feet left to it, that was all I had. I just saw it and had little time to react, but when you're going 100 miles per hour, getting to a standstill in that short of a distance is not going to happen." HOW WERE THE TRACK CONDITIONS OUT THERE IN THE HEAT? - "Actually it got better and better, I thought. But my car was loose at the rear under braking so I had big problem going into corners, but better and better grip coming out of them at least."

TARSO MARQUES (#34 Panasonic/Swift Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 17th - NO DOUBT A VERY DISAPPOINTING END TO A GOOD WEEKEND FOR YOU AND THE TEAM. - "For sure. The car was really good during the race, especially after the pit stop. Unfortunately we lost the transmission, although I don't exactly know why. It's a shame because the car was really fast and I passed a lot of cars and had a lot of fun." DOES THIS SHOWING GIVE YOU SOME MOMENTUM HEADING TO AUSTRALIA IN TWO WEEKS? - "My engineer said that we would be strong here and more competitive and it really happened. I don't know about Australia. I don't know the track again, so I cannot say anything about it, but I think it will be hard to repeat the performance we had here."

PATRICK CARPENTIER (#32 Player's Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 19th - "It's too bad. From the start of the race I was lacking a little bit of power and the car wouldn't accelerate out of the corners, so we went to full power to try and cure it but it still wouldn't go. Then going into one of the corners I don't know who was behind me, I think it was (Mark) Blundell, just hit my rear tires and spun me off trying to pass where there was no way he could pass. And with all the problems I was having he was successful in getting closer to me and probably thought I was having bigger problems and tried to make a pass. We kept going but after that one of the adjusters for the front wing broke and I lost half the front wing so the car was pushing quite a bit. So it was already a long day when I came into the pits and had a little bit of a fire coming out, but that was it. It was still running but there was no point. We were already four laps down so we might as well have stopped."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Adrian Fernandez , Tarso Marques , Roberto Moreno , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Kenny Brack , Alex Barron , Dale Coyne
Teams Dale Coyne Racing