CHAMPCAR/CART: Junqueira scores first victory at Road America

By David Reininger - motorsport.com Elkhart Lake, Wis. (August 19, 2001) – Bruno Junqueira drove his Target Team Ganassi Toyota/Reynard to victory in the Motorola 220 at Road America after taking the lead 10 laps from the checkered flag. The...

By David Reininger - motorsport.com

Elkhart Lake, Wis. (August 19, 2001) – Bruno Junqueira drove his Target Team Ganassi Toyota/Reynard to victory in the Motorola 220 at Road America after taking the lead 10 laps from the checkered flag. The race, originally scheduled for 55 laps, ended with 45 laps completed when the two-hour limit was reached, a rule used only on road circuits.

Junqueira’s victory is his first in the CART FedEx Series and the third this season for a Toyota-powered car. The Brazilian driver’s last win came in the F 3000 series at Budapest in August of last year.

Torrential rains fell an hour before the scheduled start of the race, causing a delay while safety crews worked to remove standing water at turn 11. Delayed by ten minutes, the official start came under yellow with the cars circulating side-by-side in order to help dry the backstretch.

With four laps in the book, the race went green but an accident on the backstretch involving Max Wilson, Bryan Herta and Paul Tracy put the field back under yellow before they could complete lap five.

“I didn’t see anything,” said Tracy. “I went into the puddle blind from the spray. When I came out of it, Max’s car was on top of Herta and there was nowhere to go. I hit Bryan’s car, bounced off the wall and that was it.”

“I am angry with the decision to go green, because of the white-capped river on the back straight,” Herta said. "In fact, I called in several times saying it was a huge mistake to go green with the track conditions the way they were, and then this happened on the first green lap.”

Lap nine saw the green flag return, putting the first full green lap in the books. Although the entire lap was run under green, it was not without incident. Michael Andretti and Scott Dixon touched in turn five sending Andretti to the rear of the field.

The race returned to full caution mode on lap ten when Mauricio Gugelmin spun in the water at Station 11A. The field returned to Station 11A under yellow, but Tora Tagaki spun, hit the wall and retired.

Three laps later, the race was red flagged, sending the competitors to the pits for a 47- minute delay.

“I’m glad I’m not Chris Kneifel,” said Andretti, who finished second. “That was a real difficult thing to do. Basically all the problems were because guys were going to slicks. When they were hitting that spot, it was just too much for slicks. It was a bit self-inflicted.”

Both Gugelmin and Takagi were on slick tires at the time of their accident.

Just before the race was halted, Kenny Brack, who led from the start, stopped for slick tires handing the lead to Helio Castroneves.

Under the red flag, Castroneves was followed by Patrick Carpentier, Michael Jourdain, Brack and Shinji Nakano in fifth.

After the 47-minute delay, the race went back to green on lap 16 with Castroneves pulling away from Jourdain in second.

Five green laps were recorded before a near tragedy occurred involving Memo Gidley in the second Target Ganassi car. Gidley, involved in an intense battle with Dixon, broke loose as he approached the Billy Mitchell Bridge near turn 11. Gidley veered off track, making impact with the bridge abutment at 145 mph. The car flipped several times, coming to rest upside down, with Gidley motionless inside.

Although the front of the Target car was torn to shreds, Gidley was awake and alert when safety crews reached the scene. After being evaluated at the CART medical center in the paddock, Gidley was transferred by ground transportation to St. Nicholas Hospital in Sheboygan for precautionary x-rays of his neck and a CT Scan.

“Memo had a big crash and some debris came off his car and hit me on my helmet,” said Dixon. “I believe that same piece of debris hit my rear wing and ripped it off my car.”

Despite making seven pit stops during the race, Dixon finished fourth, still on the lead lap.

The final 16 laps of the race, all run under green, saw Castroneves’ Marlboro Penske teammate Gil de Ferran drive into second place on lap 33. The Marlboro duo ran in the top-two positions for three laps before they pitted in tandem, taking on fuel only.

Junqueira assumed the lead with Andretti in second. Still needing a last minute pit stop for a splash of fuel, the pair pulled away from third place Adrian Fernandez, who was in a fuel conservation mode.

When Andretti made his pit stop on lap 41, he returned to the track in third place.

Junqueira, who opened up a twenty second lead, made his pit stop one lap later. The Target crew needed a four second stop for fuel only, putting Junqueira back on the track without relinquishing the lead.

Andretti easily passed Fernandez for second with two laps remaining.

Scott Dixon finished fourth, followed by Gil de Ferran, Cristiano da Matta and Castroneves in seventh.

Castroneves took the lead in the championship standings by five points over Kenny Brack, who led coming into this weekend’s event. Castroneves scored a total of seven points, including one point for leading the most laps and now leads Brack 110-105.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Chris Kneifel , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Memo Gidley , Bruno Junqueira , Adrian Fernandez , Patrick Carpentier , Paul Tracy , Scott Dixon , Mauricio Gugelmin , Max Wilson , Bryan Herta , Shinji Nakano , Kenny Brack , Michael Jourdain