CHAMPCAR/CART: Long Beach Mark Blundell Leads Mercedes Contingent

FedEx Championship Series Report Race: Grand Prix of Long Beach, Long Beach, Calif. Date/Session: April 16, 2000 Race Report Paul Tracy won Sunday's Grand Prix of Long Beach, round three of the CART FedEx Championship Series, for...

FedEx Championship Series Report Race: Grand Prix of Long Beach, Long Beach, Calif. Date/Session: April 16, 2000 Race Report

Paul Tracy won Sunday's Grand Prix of Long Beach, round three of the CART FedEx Championship Series, for the second time in his 10-year CART career. In a race that featured six drivers leading laps, Tracy won the 82-lap contest on the 1.968-mile temporary street circuit by 3.191 seconds over Helio Castro-Neves.

As was the case in the season-opener at Homestead, Fla., the Mercedes-Benz IC108F engine ran reliably and provided excellent fuel economy for each team, allowing four Mercedes drivers to earn championship points on Sunday, including two top-10 finishes.

Blundell Fights from 20th to Eighth

Mark Blundell and the PacWest Racing Motorola team had an up-and-down weekend in Long Beach. Blundell was second quickest in Friday's practice session, but could not repeat that performance during qualifying and started the race in 20th position. Blundell used an early pit strategy, getting a quick splash of fuel and new tires during the first caution flag on Lap 11. The British driver raced consistently in the top 10 thereafter and recorded the third-fastest lap of the contest. He was pinched back while racing side-by-side with Michael Andretti on Lap 61 and finished eighth.

Mauricio Gugelmin, driving the PacWest Nextel Mercedes, was spun by Oriol Servia at the Turn 11 hairpin on the Lap 15 restart. The incident put Gugelmin one lap down, but the Brazilian pilot continued and scored a 10th-place finish.

Bettenhausen Herdez Mercedes driver Michel Jourdain Jr. made contact with the right rear of Dario Franchitti's race car at Turn Three on Lap 24, but Jourdain Jr. continued with minor damage to the left front wing of his car. On Lap 76, Jourdain Jr. spun exiting Turn 11, again continuing. The Mexican pilot earned 11th place and his first championship points of the season.

Luiz Garcia Jr. slid off into the run-off at Turn Nine on Lap 38, losing several laps before the safety crews got him restarted and back on course. Garcia Jr. finished 12th to earn one championship point, the first for the newly formed Arciero Project Racing Group Hollywood team.

Tony Kanaan, who recorded a top-10 finish at Homestead despite two consecutive pit-lane penalties, was forced to make an early exit from the race after making contact with Kenny Brack's car on Lap 54. Kanaan, who started 15th, was running seventh at the time and working his way toward the front. Brack attempted to make a pass heading into Turn One at the end of the front straightaway. Brack got alongside Kanaan, who was leaving him room to pass. Brack misjudged, turned a sharp left and made contact with Kanaan's right front. Both cars retired from the race, and Kanaan was credited with 16th place.

The FedEx Championship Series heads to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the Rio 200 on April 30.

Mercedes Quotes

Mark Blundell, No. 18, PacWest Motorola Mercedes/Firestone (Eighth/82 laps) "We were in the hunt all day. Our strategy to pit early on the first caution paid off for us. My team gave me great pit stops. The Mercedes engine performed well * it was a good step forward in progress. Our race pace was really good, and I was very happy with the fuel mileage we were getting. In reality, it was comfortably a top-six car. I was forced wide near the end by Andretti and lost some positions. But I'm happy to bring some points home for my guys."

Mauricio Gugelmin, No. 17, PacWest Nextel Mercedes/Firestone (10th/81 laps) "Servia tapped me from behind in the hairpin, causing my car to spin. I couldn't turn the car around quickly, and lost the lap. I wanted to get back in the race, but I didn't have good traction after that."

Luiz Garcia Jr., No. 25, Arciero Project Racing Group Hollywood Mercedes/Firestone (12th/75 laps) "It was a tough race to concentrate after we lost those laps. But I pushed really hard because I hoped it would pay off later, and it did. Had I not lost those laps, I might have been in the top 10. I'm very happy that the team's hard work has paid off with a finish in the points."

Tony Kanaan, No. 55, Mo Nunn Racing Hollywood Mercedes/Firestone (16th/53 laps) "Plain and simple Kenny took us out of the race. I did everything I could to leave him room to get around me. I even breaked early. All of a sudden, he looked like he was going to miss the turn, but then he shot over to the left directly in front of me. That's all there is to say about it. We were there. We were moving toward the front. We just have to pick up the pieces and keep working hard. Remember that this is a very new team! "It was encouraging to run as competitively as we were able to today after struggling a bit through practice and qualifying. This is a competitive race car package. We're still very new, and we haven't done nearly as much testing as the front-running teams, but we were able to race with them this weekend. That still feels good, even on a day that ended the way this one did." <pre> Results, Grand Prix of Long Beach Long Beach, Calif. April 16, 2000

Pos. Driver Engine Laps 1 Paul Tracy Honda 82 2 Helio Castro-Neves Honda 82 3 Jimmy Vasser Toyota 82 4 Alexandre Tagliani Ford Cosworth 82 5 Bryan Herta Honda 82 6 Oriol Servia Toyota 82 7 Gil de Ferran Honda 82 8 Mark Blundell Mercedes-Benz 82 9 Roberto Moreno Ford Cosworth 82 10 Mauricio Gugelmin Mercedes-Benz 81 11 Michel Jourdain Jr. Mercedes-Benz 81 12 Luiz Garcia Jr. Mercedes-Benz 75 16 Tony Kanaan Mercedes-Benz 53

Driver's Championship Manufacturer's Championship

Paul Tracy 34 Honda 38 Jimmy Vasser 26 Ford Cosworth 32 Max Papis 20 Toyota 26 Roberto Moreno 20 Mercedes-Benz 8 Toyota

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Max Papis , Roberto Moreno , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Mauricio Gugelmin , Oriol Servia , Bryan Herta , Kenny Brack , Mark Blundell , Michel Jourdain , Luiz Garcia , Mo Nunn