CHAMPCAR/CART: Long Beach race notes

1995 TOYOTA GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH PPG Indy Car World Series Race No. 4 April 7-9, 1995 NOTES FROM THE 105-LAP INDY CAR RACE LONG BEACH, Calif. -- SpeedNet -- Hello and welcome to the reason we are all here: The 1995 Toyota Grand Prix of...

1995 TOYOTA GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH PPG Indy Car World Series Race No. 4 April 7-9, 1995

NOTES FROM THE 105-LAP INDY CAR RACE

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- SpeedNet -- Hello and welcome to the reason we are all here: The 1995 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach! Attendance was announced to the press for Friday and Saturday: 120,000 paid so far.

Its about 15 minutes before the race is to begin and the cars are all set on the grid. Overnight we had some VERY strong winds here in the Los Angeles area, and the Weather Channel informed this morning that we could expect 15-25 mph winds throughout the day. Thankfully, the weather report was incorrect. We have bright blue skies, scattered high clouds, and not much wind to speak for -- no more than one would expect for an area located just off a major harbor. Temperature is about 75 degrees.

In the morning warmup, we had some teams who obviously did not decide to run a race set up. Normally, all the cars go out with a full fuel load and times are down from anything we've seen in practice. But today, we had Mauricio Gugelmin and Carlos Guerrero leading the bunch, with Teo fabi, Jimmy Vasser, and Robby Gordon filling out the top five.

At 12:56 the command to start engines is given and 28 cars are ready to start the first of what will be probably three pace laps. The race record time was set in 1994 by Al Unser Jr., with a time of 1 hour, 40 minutes, and 53.582-seconds (99.283 mph). We have six rookies in the field: De Ferran, Christian Fittipaldi, Carlos Guerrero (in his first ever Indy car race), Andre Ribeiro, Eliseo Salazar and Franck Freon.

1:01pm We are on the second pace lap. We expect two pit stops, and the first should comes should come at about 30-35 laps.

And... Its the green flag!

Paul Tracy jumped out to the front and, IndyCar decided he got a little too big a jump so, we have a full course caution.

Here we go again... And we get a green flag!

De Ferran almost took the lead at the first turn but Michael held him off and Tracy pushed him out of the way with a little tap going into Turn 3. After the first green-flag lap, the order is: Andretti, Tracy, De Ferran, Unser Jr, Gugelmin, Rahal, Fabi, and Vasser in 8th.

After 3 laps we have no incidents and not much passing. Paul Tracy was less than one second behind Michael at the end of the last lap, but third place De Ferran is a full second behind them.

On lap 5, Al Unser Jr., is ALL OVER De Ferran, and the Brazilian doesn't want to give an inch. Unlike Mansell in 1993, De Ferran does give him room in Turn 2. Unser bumps, but does not break, and takes third place going into Turn 3. To say Unser is being aggressive is more than an understatement. He kisses the wall in Turn 4.

We are now 9 laps into the race and Michael is still leading, but Tracy is not allowing him a full second lead. There is about .6 second covering the top three cars and De Ferran in fourth is almost four second behind the leader Andretti.

Danny Sullivan spins in Turn 1 on lap 10, trying to keep Adrian Fernandez behind him. Fernandez was the real loser as he came to a stop and stalled before the tire barrier.

After 12 laps the top three cars are covered by one second. Unser is on a serious charge, and Tracy now drops back from Andretti a little bit, protecting his second place.

The top cars after 14 laps: Andretti, Tracy, Unser, De Ferran, Fabi, Rahal, Gugelmin, Vasser, Emmo, Pruett, Villeneuve, Christian F., Herta, Gordon, Cheever, Guerrero, bachelart, Boesel, Zampedri.

On lap 15, Paul Tracy loses to Unser at Turn 2, and later around the track, at the hairpin, De Ferran gets a jump on Tracy and beats him down the front straight and into Turn 1. Unfortunately, Tracy wouldn't settle for fourth place and so he punts De Ferran into the tire barrier at Turn 3. Both cars are out of the race. :(

Full Course Yellow.

Under yellow, most of the leaders come into the pit, except for Boesel, who is stopped on the course at the top of the backstretch. Teo Fabi and Scott Pruett must not have stopped because they are now being shown at the top of the scoring monitor, pushing Michael Andretti back to third. After Andretti, on lap 21 under yellow, is Unser, still.

Boesel is back on track, but we make him three laps down; Bryan Herta is said to have run over some equipment and may be given a black flag.

And... we are back to Green Flag racing on lap 24, with Teo Fabi leading.

Unser Jr. gets around Michael Andretti at Turn 1, but Closed Circuit television completely missed it. For some reason we are seeing nothing but Bobby Rahal's on board camera. According to the scoring monitor Fabi still leads from Pruett, and then Unser and Michael Andretti.

On lap 26, Carlos Guerrero spins in Turn 1. I hope this is correct because the only source I have for this is track announcer Bruce Flanders.

The top three cars are covered by less than one second, and Michael Andretti is bound to get up there, too, very soon. Teo Fabi and Scott Pruett are putting their light fuel loads to good use: Unser and Andretti -- easily the class of the field -- cannot catch them.

Bryan Herta stuffs his Target car into the tire wall outside Turn 7 on lap 29. He just understeered off the line and that was that. He's okay after his 30 mph accident.

Full Course Yellow.

This could be a real break for Fabi and Pruett, because their first scheduled stops were coming up in a few laps. Andretti and Unser stay out, and we'll just have to wait to see how this plays out later. Still under yellow on lap 32, Teo Fabi is in 12th and Scott Pruett is way back in 20th. Fabi's stop was VERY quick, from what I saw on the TV. Pruett's obviously was not as quick.

And... Here's the green flag, on lap 33!

Unser and Andretti lead the field into Turn 1, but just that quick we have a our third full course yellow: Jacques Villeneuve has come to a stop on the front stretch. Yeah, I guess it would be a little dangerous to have a still car when cars fly pass at 180 mph! Word is the transmission failed, again - that's two road races in a row for the winner of the first one.

And... Here's the green flag!

Unser leads Michael Andretti and Mauricio Gugelmin down to Turn 1, but that's as long as Andretti's second places last: Gugelmin takes Andretti on the outside, and Michael did a smart thing and let Mauricio have the corner. If he didn't it would have been all over.

Oh No! Unfortunately, as fast as Gugelmin is the hero, he becomes the zero, with his flat right rear tire. He limps back to the pit for a new tire, which mounts reluctantly after a long stop.

After 41 laps, the order: Unser, Andretti, Rahal, Vasser, C. Fittipaldi, E. Fittipaldi, E. Cheever, Ribeiro, Fabi, Gordon, etc...

Now Raul Boesel is out on the track with a shredded tire. Unfortunately for him he is on the front side of the track and has a VERY long way to go to get back to the pit.

On leader lap 46, Jimmy Vasser pulls off at Turn 3. Another Reynard transmission problem? I hope not. I'm heart broken for Jimmy, who once was running a brilliant fourth.

Now on lap 48, Michael Andretti is finally closing in on Unser. Unser never led by more than 1.5-seconds, and Andretti has reeled him in again: 0.49-seconds separate them. Third place belongs to rahal, who is more than five seconds ahead of the Fittipaldi clan, lead by youngster Christian.

ABC tv is now focusing on the two Fitti's. One might think Emmo is just being careful racing his relative, but Christian is legitimately faster, at least on the straight.

Now back to the leaders: Unser still leads Andretti, but perhaps not for long.... Oh! Michael slides into the runoff area in Turn 6 on lap 54.

It looks to be a done deal for Unser, but wait.... Bobby Rahal is closing fast from second place, and is only 0.52 seconds behind the Marlboro car after 58 laps. It appears to be only a matter of time before Unser falls. Bobby Rahal might just win his first Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach today, on his 200th Indy car start.

Robby Gordon is out of the race. Another Reynard transmission.

We have 15 cars on the lead lap after 61. Unser still leads Rahal, who has dropped back in open track. I'm trying to decided what Unser's weak spot is,and the only thing I can think of is traffic. Now he and Rahal have clear track and Rahal falls back to almost one second behind.

Rahal takes the lead on lap 64 as Unser hits the pit for a 14 second stop. That's quick, if you didn't know!

On the next lap, Rahal and Emmo take to the pits and, on exit, Unser gets in front of Rahal again at Turn 1, but only by about six inches, and they almost touch.

Three laps later(?) on lap 67, Unser is pulling away with a phenomenal lead of 2.43-seconds. Yawn. Well, it looked like it might be a good race, but things are sure looking grim now.

Michael Andretti lead another lap when the leaders pitted, but now that he himself has stopped, he drops back behind the Fittipaldi's into 7th.

On lap 68 Danny Sullivan spins on exit of Turn 6, right in front of Michael Andretti. Michael had been pressuring him and Danny refused to give up the lap. Michael gives him a wave, as if to say, "Yeah, see what you get for blocking me?!"

The leaders after 72 laps: Unser, Rahal, Fabi, Pruett (last two have not made final stop) Emmo, Christian, Andretti, Johansson, Zampedri, Cheever, Bachelart, Greco, Ribeiro.

Stefan Johansson is falling back now. Alex Zampedri passed him on the front side of the course and now Eddie Cheever wants some, too.

On lap 74, Scott Pruett makes his final stop. He was fourth.

Rahal has closed the gap to Unser by about one second from earlier - now it is down to 1.57-seconds on lap 75.

Teo Fabi makes his final stop on lap 76. It appears he will only lose four places and drop to seventh. Fellow late-stopper, Scott Pruett, is now 8th.

On lap 78, Bobby Rahal comes to stop on the front straight. Might this be the fourth Mercedes engine to blow in two weeks? Nope. We hear now it was a gearbox.

Full Course Yellow lap 79.

We are being told by race central that Michael Andretti passed Christian Fittipaldi at a corner that was under yellow. The team was notified and agreed to have Michael fall back to his fourth place.

Under yellow, the order is Unser, Emmo, Christian, Michael, and a surprising Eddie Cheever is u to fifth, mainly because of attrition

Here the green flag on lap 83. Michael and Andretti and and Christian touch wheels into turn one but Christian holds the spot, for now. Coming out of Turn 4, Michael is right under the gearbox of Christian Fittipaldi... Into Turn 6, Michael makes the move on the outside, and Christian must give him the corner.

On lap 86, Emmo is stopped on course, I think somewhere on the front side. Dead engine.

Your leaders are now Unser, Andretti, Christian Fittipaldi, Cheever, Fabi, Pruett, Johansson, Guerrero Bachelart and Gugelmin is 10th.

Lap 86 and Closed Circuit television is now following Scott Pruett who is chasing Teo Fabi for fifth place.

Unser is pulling away, unfortunately for those wanting to see a fight for the lead. Michael lost another half second on lap 88.

Scary moment on lap 91 as Dean Hall is sideways in "Turn Bud" (Turn 3). He's left just enough room at the apex for cars to get through,so it looks like we will avoid a full course caution.

Unser continues to pull out the lead, by another half second after lap 92. The gap front first to second is now 8.47-seconds. Christian is another 5 seconds back, but Cheever, and Fabi might make this interesting: They are less than a half second apart on lap 95.

Ten laps to go!

ABC tv finally discovers the Cheever/Fabi fight so now we can see the fight instead of following it with the scoring monitor. Now Scott Pruett has join the fight, as they are all covered by less than one second on lap 97.

On lap 99, Christian had a slight bobble with his gear change and allowed the Cheever/Fabi/Pruett to close. This is now an excellent fight for 3rd, 4th, and 5th.

Michael Andretti spins out into Turn 6 lap 101.

Teo Fabi gets Cheever, who also gets Christian Fittipaldi who must be losing his gearbox. The passing was fast and furious for a lap or so there with Cheever and Fittipaldi falling back and Michael spinning off.

The White Flag is out, and we are just being told that Teo Fabi is being black flagged for passing under the yellow. He comes into the pit for a quick stop, and we are not to sure where Fabi where end up.

And out comes the checkered flag for... Al Unser Jr! He has won the race for the sixth time. Scott Pruett comes in second, but we are waiting to see if it will be Eddie Cheever or Teo Fabi to take the final podium spot.... OH NO! Eddie Cheever runs out of fuel! Great news for Teo Fabi, terrible news for the AJ Foyt team and Eddie Cheever. As it is, this is the best finish AJ's car has seen in a VERY LONG TIME.

The twelve are: Unser, Pruett, Fabi, Cheever, Gugelmin, Johansson, Bachelart, Zampedri, Andretti, Sullivan, Guerrero, and Andre Ribeiro.

Full Results and maybe some Driver quotes will follow soon. Sorry for all the typos, but things happened here pretty quick! :)

-Robert

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jacques Villeneuve , Stefan Johansson , Robby Gordon , Eddie Cheever , Al Unser Jr. , Eliseo Salazar , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Raul Boesel , Bobby Rahal , Christian Fittipaldi , Paul Tracy , Mauricio Gugelmin , Bryan Herta , Scott Pruett , Franck Freon , Al Unser Sr. , Danny Sullivan , Teo Fabi , Andre Ribeiro , Christian F