FedEx Championship Series Report Race: Medic Drug Grand Prix of Cleveland Date/Session: Sunday, June 27, 1999 Race Report Al Unser Jr. Earns Fifth at Cleveland Mercedes Powers Three Into Top 10 Marlboro Team Penske's...
FedEx Championship Series Report
Race: Medic Drug Grand Prix of Cleveland Date/Session: Sunday, June 27, 1999 Race Report
Al Unser Jr. Earns Fifth at Cleveland Mercedes Powers Three Into Top 10
Marlboro Team Penske's wily veteran Al Unser Jr. used experience and careful driving to survive treacherous conditions and finish fifth in today's Medic Drug Grand Prix of Cleveland. He was the first of three Mercedes-Benz drivers among the top 10. Meanwhile, Juan Montoya earned victory at the 2.106-mile temporary circuit at the Burke Lakefront Airport. The race began in hot and dry conditions, and the battle at the front was fast and furious as the wide-open taxiways and runways allowed for passing opportunities at almost every corner. Several Mercedes drivers ran in the top five early in the race, but after the first round of pit stops were completed, a deluge of rain totally changed the complexion of the competition. With multiple incidents around the track, CART sent the pace car out to lead the field for 16 laps while the storm passed and crews cleared standing water. Once the rain stopped, attention turned to strategy as teams decided when to make the change from wet-weather tires to slicks. Player's/Forsythe Mercedes driver Patrick Carpentier was the second competitor to pit for slick tires, and he was rewarded with a seventh place finish despite having a race car that didn't handle well in wet or dry conditions. Finishing eighth, right behind Carpentier, was PacWest Motorola Mercedes substitute driver Roberto Moreno, who was possibly driving in his last race for the team. Regular pilot Mark Blundell is expected to return for the next race in two weeks at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis. Player's/Forsythe Mercedes pilot Greg Moore ran in the top 10 for most of the day, but finally retired from the race on lap 64 with a broken exhaust header. Classified 18th and out of the points, he falls to fifth in the driver's championship standings. PacWest Hollywood Mercedes driver Mauricio Gugelmin was knocked out of the race when his car hydroplaned into the wall that borders the final turn on the course. He finished 21st. Tarso Marques, driver of the second Marlboro Team Penske entry, was involved in an accident during the height of the thunderstorm on lap 32, and he was listed 24th. Helio Castro-Neves, driver of the Hogan Racing Mercedes, had a throttle linkage break on lap 19 and was credited with 26th place.
Al Unser Jr., No. 2, Marlboro Team Penske/Mercedes/Goodyear (Fifth) "It was great to get a top-five finish today. We found a good race setup, and the Marlboro Team Penske Lola stayed with me all day long. Goodyear and Mercedes performed well and were right there with us. The whole team did a super job. It was a good time out there today-except during the downpour when I couldn't see out of my visor. The Marlboro car has been performing well during the race. Now we need to focus on qualifying better."
Patrick Carpentier, No. 33, Player's/Forsythe Mercedes/Firestone (Seventh) "It was pretty tough with the changing conditions and such. I really wish we had gotten a higher placing. The car was decent both in the dry and wet. My rear was fairly loose in the wet, though."
Roberto Moreno, No. 18, Motorola Mercedes/Firestone (Eighth) "We were looking good until the rain. The car was very fast in the dry. We were saving fuel, so we came in later than everyone else. But it looks like we came in just short of realizing we were going to need rain tires. The setup was good in the dry, but not good in the wet."
Greg Moore, No. 99, Player's/Forsythe Mercedes/Firestone (18th) "We had an exhaust problem. We probably broke a header. It was not our day today. We were fast in the dry, but we just lost it in the rain."
Mauricio Gugelmin, No. 17, Hollywood Mercedes/Firestone (21st) "We had a nice run before it started to pour with rain. We were running in the top group, and the car was really very good. I was comfortable with the balance, and we were conserving fuel. Finally, I aquaplaned and clipped the wall in Turn 8. I was going straight ahead and next thing I knew, I was being sucked off-line like the wall was a Hoover (vacuum). About three or four of us went off in the same place at almost the same time."
Tarso Marques, No. 3, Marlboro Team Penske/Mercedes/Goodyear (24th) "It had started to rain pretty heavily and we were planning to come in on the next lap for rain tires. I was setting up for turn eight and I saw the #44 and the #12 cars in the tires. Unfortunately, I was having problems downshifting since the start of the race, so I couldn't slow down through the corner and I slid into the tire wall."
Helio Castro-Neves, No. 9, Hogan Racing Mercedes/Firestone (26th) "I don't know what happened at the beginning. The car was good. If I could just get one chance I know I could do it. The throttle cable went down finally, and that was it."
Race Report Medic Drug Grand Prix of Cleveland Cleveland, Ohio June 27, 1999
Pos. Driver Engine Laps 1 Juan Montoya Honda 90 2 Gil de Ferran Honda 90 3 Michael Andretti Ford Cosworth 90 4 Paul Tracy Honda 90 5 Al Unser Jr. Mercedes-Benz 90 6 Bryan Herta Ford Cosworth 90 7 Patrick Carpentier Mercedes-Benz 90 8 Roberto Moreno Mercedes-Benz 90 9 Robbie Gordon Toyota 89 10 Richie Hearn Toyota 88 18 Greg Moore Mercedes-Benz 64 21 Mauricio Gugelmin Mercedes-Benz 34 24 Tarso Marques Mercedes-Benz 32 26 Helio Castro-Neves Mercedes-Benz 19
Driver's Championship: Manufacturer's Championship Juan Montoya 112 Honda 176 Gil de Ferran 87 Ford Cosworth 139 Dario Franchitti 85 Mercedes-Benz 97