Michael Andretti won the rain-delayed Firestone Firehawk 500 today at the 1.549-mile Twin Ring Motegi oval in Motegi, Japan, as Tony Kanaan's bid for a top-five finish ended with a cut tire and then a loss of power 12 laps before the ...
Michael Andretti won the rain-delayed Firestone Firehawk 500 today at the 1.549-mile Twin Ring Motegi oval in Motegi, Japan, as Tony Kanaan's bid for a top-five finish ended with a cut tire and then a loss of power 12 laps before the checkered flag.
"We definitely had a race car heading for the top five," said Kanaan, driver of the Hollywood/Mercedes-Benz for Mo Nunn Racing, who was credited with 16th place in the final standings. "We were running very well and hanging with the leaders. The only time I got passed on the race track was when my left rear tire went flat."
Bettenhausen Motorsports/Herdez driver Michel Jourdain Jr., was the highest finisher for Mercedes-Benz with a 12th-place result. He started 18th, but was penalized by CART and forced to go to the back of the pack for a pit-lane rule violation during his first stop on lap 35. Jourdain's car hit an air gun that was lying in Christian Fittipaldi's pit box, which was located immediately in front of Bettenhausen's pit.
"The car was very good," said Jourdain. "I had a very competitive car. I know that with this team I can get to the podium. Our package is very good."
Tom Brown, Jourdain's race engineer, was pleased with his driver's performance and his equipment. "The engine was very strong, very impressive. I guess it can't always go right, but Michel just charged. I'm really looking forward to the rest of the races now."
PacWest Racing/Nextel/Mercedes-Benz driver Mauricio Gugelmin started in seventh place and ran in the top 10 early in the race, but his car suffered a broken header on lap 42 and he finished 22nd.
Gugelmin's teammate, Mark Blundell, driver of the Motorola/Mercedes-Benz, struggled with an ill-handling race car and brushed the wall twice during the race, first on lap 79 and then again on lap 171. He continued after the first incident with virtually no damage to his race car. But the second incident brought about his retirement from the race. He finished 19th.
Luiz Garcia Jr., finished 23rd after exiting the race with a leaking gearbox on lap 18.