CHAMPCAR/CART: Houston Sunday Track Notes

Texaco Grand Prix of Houston FedEx Championship Series Press Notes-Sunday, Sept. 26, 1999 · Good Morning from downtown Houston, Texas for Race day in the Lone Star State! Today's weather features blue skies punctuated with the...

Texaco Grand Prix of Houston FedEx Championship Series Press Notes-Sunday, Sept. 26, 1999

· Good Morning from downtown Houston, Texas for Race day in the Lone Star State! Today's weather features blue skies punctuated with the billowy cumulous clouds that promise more of yesterday's questions; will it rain or not? It's a great day to not be racing on an oval track for sure! Today's CART on track action starts with the traditional 30-minute warm-up for the Champ Cars taking the Green Flag at 11 a.m., followed by the start of the 100-lap Texaco Grand Prix of Houston at 3 p.m. · GREEN FLAG waves at 11 a.m. to start the final practice session of the weekend. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 90 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 87 degrees F. at the start of the session.

· At 11:01 a.m., #33 CARPENTIER slides into the run-off at Turn 1 but continues on course to his Pit Area without apparent damage to the car.

· At 11:02 a.m., #19 JOURDAIN Jr. enters the run-off at Turn 1 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

· RED FLAG waves at 11:08 a.m. after #19 JOURDAIN Jr. stalls on course beyond Turn 3. CART safety workers tow the car back to Pit Lane.

· At 11:10 a.m., 10 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #7 PAPIS with a lap of 88.310 mph (1:02.249), followed by #2 UNSER Jr. (86.833 mph; 1:03.308) and #27 FRANCHITTI (86.765 mph; 1:03.357).

· GREEN FLAG waves at 11:13 a.m. to resume the practice session.

· At 11:17 a.m., #10 HEARN slides into the run-off at Turn 4 and stalls the car. CART safety workers are unsuccessful in getting the car started and HEARN is pulled deep into the run-off for the CART safety team to continue to try to get the car restarted.

· At 11:20 a.m., 20 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #44 KANAAN with a lap of 89.343 mph (1:01.529), followed by #7 PAPIS (89.013 mph; 1:01.757) and #26 TRACY (88.882 mph; 1:01.848).

· At 11:22 a.m., CART safety workers get #10 HEARN restarted and HEARN continues on course to his Pit.

· At 11:29 a.m., #25 da MATTA brushes the wall with the right side of the car at Turn 4 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

· CHECKERED FLAG waves at 11:30 a.m. to end the session with the fastest driver #25 da MATTA with a lap of 89.548 mph (1:01.388), followed by #26 TRACY (89.377 mph; 1:01.506) and #44 KANAAN (89.343 mph; 1:01.529). FedEx Championship Series drivers introduced a total of 26 cars to the track in this morning's session with secondary cars utilized by #11X FITTIPALDI, #10X HEARN, and #99X MOORE. CART drivers logged a total of 207 incident-free laps in the session.

· The CART Ladder System has place three former Indy Lights Champs in the top three positions in this last practice session. CHRISTIANO da MATTA was the 1998 Champ, PAUL TRACY was the 1990 Champ, and TONY KANAAN was the 1997 Lights Champ.

· RACE NOTES START THIS PAGE!!

· As the appointed time with the Green Flag approaches, the cumuli-nimbus clouds are building, but the sun is still shining. The stands are full, and we are ready to go with Round 18 of the FedEx Championship Series, the Texaco Grand Prix of Houston. The race will start from the temporary backstretch Start/Finish line, leading into Turn 5 because on the increased safety afforded by the long backstretch.

· At 2:55 p.m., the National Anthem is sung by Chelsi Smith-Blair.

· At 2:59 p.m., the command "Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!" is given.

· At 3:01 p.m., the PPG Pace Car begins to roll with the field of 26 cars in tow for the first of three pace laps.

· As the GREEN FLAG is ready to wave, #8 HERTA lags too far behind for CART Starter Jim Swintal's approval and the starter waves the Yellow Flag at 3:04 p.m. to start the 100-lap Texaco Grand Prix of Houston! The laps count and the race clock is ticking. The cars reform and come off Turn 4 again, heading to the Flag. This time, #8 HERTA jumps #4 MONTOYA, crossing the line first and Mr. Swintal again waves off the start. The third attempt works and GREEN FLAG flies. #26 TRACY splits the lead two cars, and passes HERTA, tucking in behind MONTOYA as the cars head into Turn 5.

· On Lap 3, #7 PAPIS passes #27 FRANCHITTI to take over third place. Also on Lap 3, seventh-place starter HATTORI loses two spots and falls to ninth place

· On Lap 5, the running order is #4 MONTOYA leading by .906 seconds over #26 TRACY, followed by #8 HERTA, #7 PAPIS, and #27 FRANCHITTI.

· On Lap 9, #5 de FERRAN passes #27 FRANCHITTI on the inside of Turn 5 and takes over fifth place.

· On Lap 10, the running order is #4 MONTOYA leading by 2.188 seconds over #26 TRACY, followed by #8 HERTA, #7 PAPIS, and #5 de FERRAN.

· Also on Lap 10, #44 KANAAN passes #27 FRANCHITTI on the inside at Turn 5 to take over sixth place.

· On Lap 11, #11 FITTIPALDI and #40 FERNANDEZ team up on #27 FRANCHITTI at Turn 5, force the Scotsman to the outside and pass him, taking over ninth and tenth place respectively.

· YELLOW FLAG flies on Lap 11 after #9 CASTRO-NEVES slides nose-first into the tire barrier at Turn 9. The seven cars behind CASTRO-NEVES file past at speed before the leader #4 MONTOYA comes up on the scene. MONTOYA clips the rear of #9 CASTRO-NEVES and tears loose the right, front wheel, sliding to a halt on the frontstretch. Both cars are retired from the race due to contact. #26 TRACY takes over the lead, followed by #8 HERTA, #7 PAPIS, #44 KANAAN, and #20 MAGNUSSEN.

· On Lap 13 and under a full-course Yellow Flag, #6 ANDRETTI and #27 FRANCHITTI pit. ANDRETTI drops from seventh to 16th and FRANCHITTI drops from 11th to 19th as the cars return to the race.

· On Lap 14, #36 MONTERMINI is called for a Pit Road speed violation as he leaves the Pits.

· GREEN FLAG flies on Lap 18 to restart the race. As the cars head into Turn 1, #8 HERTA locks up the brakes and #7 PAPIS passes on the inside to take over second. HERTA pits as he completes the lap and falls all the way to 24th, one lap down.

· BLACK FLAG is shown to #36 MONTERMINI for the Pit Road speed violation. MONTERMINI subsequently pits for a drive-thru to comply with the Black Flag penalty.

· On Lap 20, the running order is #26 TRACY leading by 6.294 seconds over #7 PAPIS, followed by #44 KANAAN, #20 MAGNUSSEN, and #11 FITTIPALDI.

· On Lap 25, the running order is #26 TRACY leading by 12.850 seconds over #7 PAPIS, followed by #44 KANAAN, #20 MAGNUSSEN, and #11 FITTIPALDI.

· On Lap 30, the running order is #26 TRACY leading by 16.112 seconds over #7 PAPIS, followed by #44 KANAAN, #20 MAGNUSSEN, and #11 FITTIPALDI.

· On Lap 35, the running order is #26 TRACY leading by 15.863 seconds over #7 PAPIS, followed by #44 KANAAN, #20 MAGNUSSEN, and #11 FITTIPALDI.

· On Lap 37, #12 VASSER locks up the brakes entering Turn 5 and falls from 10th to 13th, being passed by #25 da MATTA, #6 ANDRETTI, and #27 FRANCHITTI on the inside of the left-hand turn.

· On Lap 38, #12 VASSER rams the rear of #18 BLUNDELL at Turn 3 and passes to take 13th place.

· On Lap 40, the running order is #26 TRACY leading by 22.168 seconds over #7 PAPIS, followed by #44 KANAAN, #20 MAGNUSSEN, and #11 FITTIPALDI.

· On Lap 42, fourth-place #20 MAGNUSSEN pits and hands fourth to #11 FITTIPALDI. MAGNUSSEN returns to the race in 16th, one lap down.

· On Lap 45, the running order is #26 TRACY leading, followed by #7 PAPIS, #44 KANAAN, #7 PAPIS, and #40 FERNANDEZ. PAPIS and FERNANDEZ are in the process of pitting as the cross the line. Both cars are cited for a Pit Road speed violation as they exit the Pits.

· On Lap 48, leader #26 TRACY pits and teammate #27 FRANCHITTI takes over first.

· On Lap 49, #12 VASSER slides up to the tire barrier at Turn 7 and stalls the car.

· On Lap 50, the running order is #27 FRANCHITTI leading by 1.260 seconds over #26 TRACY, followed by #6 ANDRETTI, #17 GUGELMIN, and #71 GIDLEY.

· YELLOW FLAG waves on Lap 51 to allow CART safety workers to aid the stalled car of #12 VASSER. They get the car restarted and VASSER continues on course to his Pit Area, two laps down.

· On Lap 52, #36 MONTERMINI stalls on course. CART safety workers pull the car to safety and MONTERMINI subsequently retires from the race due to fuel.

· On Lap 52 and under a full-course Yellow Flag, the third, fourth, and fifth-pace cars of #6 ANDRETTI, #27 FRANCHITTI, and #17 GUGELMIN all Pit. #11 FITTIPALDI, #44 KANAAN, and #27 FRANCHITTI take over the spots.

· On Lap 57, #33 CARPENTIER slides into the run-off at Turn 4 as the cars come up to speed to the anticipated Green Flag. CARPENTIER falls from ninth to 15th as a result and then pits, returning to the race in 21st place, 3 laps down to the leaders.

· YELLOW FLAG flies on Lap 58 after #15 HATTORI loses the nose and front wing from his car at Turn 2. The assembly is laying right in the middle of the groove.

· On Lap 60 and under a full-course Yellow Flag, the running order is #26 TRACY, followed by #11 FITTIPALDI, #44 KANAAN, #27 FRANCHITTI, and #6 ANDRETTI.

· GREEN FLAG waves on Lap 61 to resume the race with #26 TRACY leading.

· On Lap 62, #27 FRANCHITTI passes #44 KANAAN to take over third place.

· On Lap 65, the running order is #26 TRACY leading by 5.710 seconds over #11 FITTIPALDI, #27 FRANCHITTI, #44 KANAAN, and #6 ANDRETTI.

· On Lap 70, #12 VASSER slides into the run-off at Turn 3 and returns to the race, keeping his 20th position.

· On Lap 70, the running order is #26 TRACY leading by 5.186 seconds over #11 FITTIPALDI, #27 FRANCHITTI, #44 KANAAN, and #6 ANDRETTI.

· On Lap 74, #22 GORDON pulls onto Pit Road, giving up 8th place. GORDON subsequently retires from the race due to an electrical problem.

· On Lap 75, the running order is #26 TRACY leading by 8.399 seconds over #11 FITTIPALDI, #27 FRANCHITTI, #44 KANAAN, and #6 ANDRETTI.

· On Lap 76, 19th-place #12 VASSER pulls into the Pits and retires from the race.

· On Lap 80, the running order is #26 TRACY leading by 9.163 seconds over #11 FITTIPALDI, #27 FRANCHITTI, #44 KANAAN, and #6 ANDRETTI.

· On Lap 83, #11 FITTIPALDI and #27 FRANCHITTI make side to side contact at Turn 2 and FRANCHITTI's car sustains slight damage to the rear wheel vent box as he completes the pass of FITTIPALDI to take over second place.

· Also on Lap 83, #33 CARPENTIER pulls into the run-off at Turn 5. The driver subsequently retires from the race due to an engine problem.

· On Lap 85, the running order is #26 TRACY leading by 9.218 seconds over #27 FRANCHITTI, followed by #11 FITTIPALDI, #6 ANDRETTI, and #44 KANAAN.

· On Lap 90, the running order is #26 TRACY leading by 10.941 seconds over #27 FRANCHITTI, followed by #11 FITTIPALDI, #6 ANDRETTI, and #44 KANAAN.

· On Lap 93, #7 PAPIS brushes the right wall at Turn 4 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

· On Lap 95, #7 PAPIS passes #44 KANAAN to take over fifth place.

· On Lap 95, the running order is #26 TRACY leading by 11.869 seconds over #27 FRANCHITTI, followed by #11 FITTIPALDI, #6 ANDRETTI, and #44 KANAAN.

· On Lap 96, #26 TRACY leads by 12.066 seconds over #27 FRANCHITTI. #44 KANAAN pits for fuel and hands sixth place to #8 HERTA. KANAAN falls to 10th place.

· On Lap 97, #26 TRACY leads by 12.766 seconds over #27 FRANCHITTI. #11 FITTIAPLDI pits for fuel and hands third place to #6 ANDRETTI. FITTIPALDI returns to the race in seventh place.

· On Lap 98, #26 TRACY leads by 12.703 seconds over #27 FRANCHITTI.

· White Flag waves on Lap 99 for #26 TRACY, leading by 13.733 seconds over #27 FRANCHITTI.

· CHECKERED FLAG waves on Lap 100 for the winner of the Texaco Grand Prix of Houston, PAUL TRACY! TRACY comes home 13.733 seconds ahead of teammate DARIO FRANCHITTI, the exact same margin from the White Flag lap. Third place goes to MIACHAEL ANDRETTI, with fourth to MAX PAPIS. Fifth place goes to BRYAN HERTA.

· TRACY averaged 78.960 mph, taking one hour, 55 minutes and 31.263 seconds to log his second win of the 1999 season. The Yellow Flag waved four times for a total of 18 laps. There were 16 cars running at the end of the race with 8 cars on the lead lap. There were three lead changes between three drivers with TRACY leading 85 laps, followed by MONTOYA with 12 laps, and FRANCHITTI with 3. FRANCHITTI takes a big 16-point bite out of MONTOYA's PPG Points lead as MONOTOYA now leads by 13; 200 to 187. TRACY sits in third with 155, ANDRETTI is fourth with 141, and PAPIS is fifth with 117.

· PAUL TRACY logs his 15th win of his CART career and his second of the 1999 season. TRACY also won at Milwaukee earlier this year. This is TRACY'S first win on a street/road course since Australia in 1995. This is also the third time that Team Kool Green has finished first and second this year, the others being Toronto and Detroit.

· DARIO FRNACHITTI comes home second today, giving the Scotsman his series-leading tenth podium of the season. He rides 13 points behind JUAN MONTOYA in the PPG Points Chase, with 44 points available in the last two races.

· MICHAEL ANDRETTI finishes third today, giving him his fifth podium of the season and the 84th podium of his career.

· The Texaco Grand Prix of Houston announced a three-day crowd of 101,156 Champ Car fans attended this weekend's activities here in downtown Houston.

· TRACY's win today represents the 13th win for Honda this year in 18 races. Honda has also won the last 13 FedEx Championship Series races conducted on temporary street circuits.

· Today represents the 16th straight win for Firestone on CART temporary street courses, encompassing every street race in 1997, 1998, and so far in 1999. Firestone has now won 10 straight races this season and 17 of 18 for the year. With today's results, Firestone has led every lap and swept every podium in the last nine races.

· Quotes from the top three finishers in today's Texaco Grand Prix of Houston follow:

· PAUL TRACY, KOOL Honda Reynard: "My car was just perfect. I couldn't have asked for a better car today. My goal was to get ahead of Bryan on the start, and I was able to do so quite easily. Then I just wanted to stay behind Juan until the first pit stop. [On the incident between Juan Montoya and Helio Castro-Neves] I saw it, and then I just told myself to relax and be smooth and do what we know how to do, and I was able to pick up a second a lap. [Regarding his teammate, Dario Franchitti's, pursuit of the PPG Cup] I'll do everything I can. I like to think that I helped the situation with Dario by keeping the pressure on Juan."

· DARIO FRANCHITTI, KOOL Honda Reynard: "Thanks to the guy upstairs. The [initial] yellow was very timely. Something went wrong, I'm not sure what, but I had a car I couldn't drive [early in the race]. We pitted out of sequence. I was aware at that time of what had happened to Montoya, and I thought that although things were bad, they could have been much worse. I think we went back to 18th place, but as soon as we pitted, the thing was great. After that, I was just trying to get by people and save fuel. Second place is a good result. I didn't think 10 laps into the race that we would be on the podium. With Montoya's bad fortune, this certainly makes things closer in the championship race."

· MICHAEL ANDRETTI, Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Swift: "I'll take it [third place] after the way the weekend's gone. I'm very happy to be on the podium at the Texaco Grand Prix for our sponsor, and we were able to get some points, as well. All in all, I'd say the track was good to race on. It was a really physical race because of the heat. I give the track good grades. Last year was a total, total embarrassment for our team and we wanted to redeem ourselves. Unfortunately, we didn't do it with a win, but we were able to finish on the podium. I'm glad we were able to give them a show."

· The CART Ladder System again delivers the mail in today's race. PAUL TRACY, today's winner was the 1990 Indy Lights Champion with MICHAEL ANDRETTI, the third place finisher, a Toyota Atlantics graduate.

· PPG Industries has announced that MICHAEL ANDRETTI is the latest recipient of PPG Colorful Character Award. ANDRETTI has won more races, won more poles, and led more laps than any other active driver in Championship or Indy car racing. ANDRETTI'S aggressive style and flair on the track have earned him a fierce reputation, but he prefers a quieter lifestyle away from the track. He lives in a small rural town in upstate Pennsylvania with his wife Leslie and three children. Created in 1995 by PPG Industries, co-title sponsor of the 1999 CART FedEx Championship, the PPG Colorful Character award recognizes members of the racing community who add color, style, personality, and fun to the series.

· A final note: Congrats to CART Registration czar NONIE HINSPETER. The diminutive starlet is going to be a grandmother!

· This concludes the Pit Notes for the Texaco Grand Prix of Houston. The FedEx Championship next travels to the Land Down Under, Australia for the running of Round 19 of the FedEx Championship Series, the Honda Indy 300 on October 17th . Keep up with the comings and goings in CARTthrough the official CART website; CART.com. Have a safe week and thanks for your interest in the FedEx Championship Series!

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Dario Franchitti