CHAMPCAR/CART: Mexico City: Mo Nunn Racing race report

Kanaan closes the season with an eighth place at Mexico City. MEXICO CITY (Sunday, Nov. 17, 2002) -- Tony Kanaan and the ...

Kanaan closes the season with an eighth place at Mexico City.

MEXICO CITY (Sunday, Nov. 17, 2002) -- Tony Kanaan and the #10 Pioneer-WorldCom/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Lola overcame a dramatic mid-race pit fire to finish eighth in today's CART FedEx Championship Series season-ending Gran Premio Telmex/Gigante at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. Kanaan, who qualified fourth and was fastest in this morning's warmup, moved from fourth to first by the second turn of the race and led the first 40 laps -- through the first round of pit stops on Lap 20.

He pitted on Lap 40, reporting a clutch failure on his way into the pit box. He pulled away from the stop with the fueling rig not completely released from his car, and a massive methanol fire erupted, sending crewmembers and safety officials scrambling to douse the blaze. Five crew members with various injuries were taken to the CART Medical Center trackside, were all treated, and released. Fueler John Wayne Gape suffered heat inhalation. Left-rear tire changer Damon Sturrock suffered first- and second-degree burns to his face and legs. Behind-the-wall crewmember Art Kilgore suffered first- and second-degree burns to both arms. Crew chief Don Lambert, the left-front tire changer, suffered minor heat inhalation. And right-front tire changer Kevin Kaye suffered minor heat inhalation, as well.

Kanaan resumed from that ill-fated pit stop in second place behind Dario Franchitti. But he was black-flagged by CART officials for a safety violation as a result of that pit fire and was forced to serve a drive-through penalty on Lap 48, which dropped him back to sixth. He stayed in sixth until pitting under yellow for the final stop of the day on Lap 53, and dropped from sixth to 12th due, mostly, to the clutch failure and a water-saturated surface in the pit box. He made up four spots on the track by the checkered flag on Lap 73.

Kanaan gained five points in the championship points, including four for the eighth-place finish and one for leading the most laps. He finishes the season with 99, good for 12th place in the final standings.

TONY KANAAN QUOTES

"Thank God all of my guys are okay. That was very scary. I honestly don't know what happened. We took care of our guys and cleaned up the mess and were still fighting for a race win when we got black-flagged. I don't know if the rule book makes that mandatory or not after a pit fire, but that basically took us right out of the race for the second time in the last four races. What an ugly way to close this chapter of my life in CART. Good luck to everyone."

-mnr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Kanaan , Mo Nunn