CHAMPCAR/CART: Lexington: Mid-Ohio race report

Patrick Carpentier celebrates 100th start by claiming third career CART FedEx Championship Series victory in Mid-Ohio romp. LEXINGTON, Ohio (August 11, 2002) - Patrick Carpentier ( ...

Patrick Carpentier celebrates 100th start by claiming third career CART FedEx Championship Series victory in Mid-Ohio romp.

LEXINGTON, Ohio (August 11, 2002) - Patrick Carpentier (#32 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth Reynard/Bridgestone) is Canadian by birth and a resident of Las Vegas by choice, but he might be filing for status as an honorary Buckeye as he completed his 2002 sweep of Ohio, winning Sunday's CART Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio to go along with his victory on the airport course at Cleveland in July.

Carpentier had the most dominant weekend of his Champ Car career, winning the provisional and final poles, then leading 89 of the 92 race laps enroute to his third career CART FedEx Championship Series victory. The Player's/Forsythe driver lost the lead three times - but only on the timing and scoring sheets - as his crew kept him in front after each of his pit stops and allowed him to become only the second driver of the season to collect all 23 championship points available on a weekend, matching Cristiano da Matta's (#6 Havoline Toyota/Lola Bridgestone) effort from Portland and Toronto

Carpentier lost the lead on the scoring sheets each time that he would pit, owing to the fact that his pit stall was behind the start/finish line. So while he would stop short of the scoring line to receive service, Christian Fittipaldi (#11 Lilly Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) and da Matta would continue further down the pit lane before stopping and were scored as the leader of the laps. Carpentier would beat his foes off of pit lane during each stop, but was officially knocked off of the lead each time on the charts, keeping him from becoming the first driver ever to lead a Mid-Ohio event from flag to flag.

Carpentier led from the pole but was pursued by Fittipaldi and da Matta through the first half of the race, with da Matta taking the second spot away from teammate Fittipaldi during the first round of pit stops. Da Matta maintained his spot through the second round of stops and began to threaten Carpentier for the lead on Lap 68, filling his mirrors as they poured through the high-speed first turn. The series points leader closed on the race leader heading into the Keyhole turn but overshot his marks and went off into the gravel, bringing out a yellow flag.

Da Matta took advantage of a special CART provision that would allow him to be towed out of the gravel and put back in the race, but he would end his day in the 13th spot and out of the points, marking the first time all season that the Newman/Haas driver would fail to score a point on the weekend. He would retain his series points lead, although he saw it reduced for the second-straight week, shrinking from 38 to 27 points.

Da Matta's teammate Fittipaldi had a better time of it, inheriting the second spot after his teammate's spin and holding on to it for the rest of the event. The Brazilian would finish 3.213 seconds in arrears of Carpentier, but matched his best finish of the season and earned his best-ever Mid-Ohio placing by taking the runner-up spot.

Michael Andretti (#39 Motorola Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) would take his first Mid-Ohio podium since 1996 with a third-place finish, making a strong charge through the field early in the race. He started in the eighth spot, but made up two positions on the first lap. He would make up another spot in the pits and took advantage of Tony Kanaan's (#10 Pioneer/WorldCom Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) misfortune to snare the third spot. Kanaan was in line for a third-place finish, a run that would have given him back-to-back podiums for the first time since his rookie season of 1998, but succumbed to mechanical woes with 14 laps to go.

Target Chip Ganassi Racing covered the next three spots in the field, giving each of its drivers a leg up in the pursuit of da Matta. Bruno Junqueira (#4 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) would lead the three-man squad by taking the fourth spot, allowing him to maintain the third rung on the championship ladder, 36 points behind the series kingpin. Scott Dixon (#44 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) matched his season-best finish with a fifth-place run tying his effort from Cleveland while Kenny Brack (#12 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) rounded out the top six.

Carpentier's teammate Alex Tagliani (#33 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) brought his machine home in seventh, extending of run of consecutive top-seven finishes to four, a run that has seen him move from 12th to 10th in the points. Jimmy Vasser (#8 Shell Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) would take the eighth position, followed by Shinji Nakano (#52 Alpine/Mitsuba Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) and Oriol Servia (#20 Visteon Toyota/Reynard/Bridgestone).


* PATRICK CARPENTIER (#32 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone): "Both of them [Cristiano da Matta and Christian Fittipaldi] were running really fast and da Matta was pressuring me hard. We got lucky when we got out in the lead after a problem on the first pit stop. Da Matta almost got me there in the top of the corner in Turn 2. He tried to go deeper and lost the back end of the car. Christian was pushing toward me later in the race but it worked out well. It was a good weekend." (On his plans for next year) "I'm a race car driver and this [CART] is where I want to be. I feel that this is where the best race car drivers in the world are."

* CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI (#11 Lilly Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "We had a 14-second pit stop on our first stop, which didn't help me a bit. We lost second place and it basically cost me the race today. But I'm happy to finish a strong second after not finishing the past two races. "

* MICHAEL ANDRETTI (#39 Motorola Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "We just pushed it and pushed it hard, and tried not to make any mistakes. When you have a car that is decent and you have a decent race you can get podiums. Hopefully we can continue that throughout the rest of the season." (On point leader da Matta's late race incident) "Everyone was saying that this championship was over. I said three weeks ago that there's no way this thing was over. We still have long way to go."


* Patrick Carpentier's 89 laps led on Sunday is the highest number of laps that the Player's/Forsythe driver has ever led in a single event. Carpentier has led more laps in this year's two Ohio events (155) than he had in his entire five-year career (113) to this point.

* Oriol Servia earned his first top-10 finish for Patrick Racing and his third of the season by taking the 10th spot at Mid-Ohio Sunday. His finish allowed him to close to within three points of former Patrick driver Townsend Bell for 18th in the points.

* Cristiano da Matta lost 10 points on his lead but has kept his lead despite two straight DNFs and a scoreless performance Sunday, owing to the fact that the driver that has entered the race in second place in the points has failed to finish each of the last four races.

* Patrick Carpentier won his second race of the year Sunday, marking the first time that a Player's/Forsythe driver has won twice in a single season since the late Greg Moore turned the trick in 1998.


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Christian Fittipaldi , Tony Kanaan , Oriol Servia , Shinji Nakano , Kenny Brack , Townsend Bell , Chip Ganassi , Greg Moore , Cristiano da Matta
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , ART Grand Prix