CHAMPCAR/CART: Long Beach: Honda Racing race report

Andretti wins Long Beach for Honda. Michael Andretti returned to the scene of his very first CART victory (16 years ago) to hold off a charging Jimmy Vasser to post his ­ and Honda's ­ first victory of the 2002 CART FedEx Championship Series...

Andretti wins Long Beach for Honda.

Michael Andretti returned to the scene of his very first CART victory (16 years ago) to hold off a charging Jimmy Vasser to post his ­ and Honda's ­ first victory of the 2002 CART FedEx Championship Series season today at the Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Starting 15th, Andretti's Team Motorola crew gambled on pit strategy today, electing not to pit with the rest of the field during a full course caution on lap 32. That moved the American "out of sequence" and into the lead at the restart. Andretti then turned some of his fastest race laps, pulling away from the field so that when he made his final pit stop, on lap 64, he was able to retain his advantage over Max Papis and Vasser.

Team KOOL Green's Paul Tracy started out the day strongly, running fourth in the early laps. But clutch failure cost the Canadian time leaving the pits at each of his stops and he finished 7th. Teammate Dario Franchitti pitted even earlier than Andretti, also in an attempt to find an advantage, but could only move up to 9th by the finish. Adrian Fernandez appeared headed for a sixth place finish until fuel pressure problems late in the race dropped him to 10th, while teammate Shinji Nakano had similar problems to end the day 12th.

Honda Fast Facts

* This is Honda's 7th consecutive Long Beach Grand Prix victory, a streak that began with Jimmy Vasser's win in 1996.

* Today's race was the first win for the Honda HR-2 Series turbocharged V-8 engine, with debuted last month at the season-opening Grand Prix of Monterrey.

* It is Honda's 61st CART Champ Car victory in 147 races since the manufacturer entered the series in 1994.

Michael Andretti (#39 Team Motorola Honda) Started 15th, finished 1st, his 42nd CART race win, Honda's 61st Champ Car victory: "It's such a big win, it's hard to describe. This place is special to me because it's where I got my first win (in 1986). We really wanted to do well here for Honda and help them keep their streak alive. Starting as far back as we did, we had nothing to lose so we took a bit of a gamble on our pit strategy and it paid off. We were a little lucky today but I've been on the other side as well so we'll take it! And the team did a great job, (engineer) Eddie Jones and the whole team were fantastic today. I was able to run some very fast lap times consistently, the team timed the stops perfectly and the Honda engine was great all day."

Paul Tracy (#26 Team KOOL Green Honda) Started 8th, finished 7th: "We were running fourth in the first stint, then we started having handling problems - we picked up a lot of understeer. Then on the second stop we lost the clutch so the crew had to push me out of the pits. We lost three or four spots because of that. The day wasn't a total loss, though. We take six points home for the effort and we will go to Motegi and try to get Honda it's second win of the season."

Dario Franchitti (#27 Team KOOL Green Honda) Started 16th, finished 9th: "In race mode, my car wasn't too bad. I think we were as quick as any one out there. The biggest problem was track position today. We went one way with the strategy and Michael (Andretti) went another, and you can see the results. That's just one of those things."

Adrian Fernandez (#51 Tecate/Telmex/Quaker State Fernandez Racing Honda) Started 7th, finished 10th: "The car was very good from the start, but it was one of those races where too many things went against us. I was coming in for my first pit stop and already was ahead of (Cristiano) da Matta when (his crew) sent him out and we came together. Then we had another incident when Tracy hit me and spun me around in the carousel and we lost more positions. But I passed Franchitti and Tracy again and stayed there until we had a fuel problem right at the end. We finished 10th but should have done much better."

Shinji Nakano (#52 Alpine/Mitsuba Fernandez Racing Honda) Started 14th, finished 12th (not running, mechanical): "I made a mistake on the first lap and locked up the tires but other than that, the car was all right up until the point I had fuel pressure problems. After that we kept losing power until, at the end, it was not safe to continue and we came in."

Tony Kanaan (#10 Pioneer/WorldCom Mo Nunn Honda) started 6th, finished 20th (not running ­ mechanical): "Tough luck, huh? That's the only way to respond to something like this because it's totally out of your control. I felt I had a problem when I was coming out of the hairpin onto the front straight, and I was able to accelerate most of the way down the straight before the engine just quit. There was nothing I could do to get it going again."

-honda-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Max Papis , Adrian Fernandez , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Shinji Nakano , Mo Nunn