CHAMPCAR/CART: Mexico City: Season finishes in style

Brack finishes CART season in style in Mexico. Swedish driver Kenny Brack finished off the 2002 CART FedEx Championship Series in style by taking out the final race - the inaugural Gran Premio Telmex/Gigante presented by Banamex/Visa in Mexico...

Brack finishes CART season in style in Mexico.

Swedish driver Kenny Brack finished off the 2002 CART FedEx Championship Series in style by taking out the final race - the inaugural Gran Premio Telmex/Gigante presented by Banamex/Visa in Mexico City today.

Watched by a record CART crowd of 174, 866, Brack (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) claimed his first win of the season and fifth of his career in a classy four second triumph over series champion Cristiano da Matta (Newman/Haas Racing) with Brack's team-mate and polesitter Bruno Junqueira in third.

After starting sixth on the grid, the 36-year-old was steady all race and finally hit the lead with 12 laps to go keeping the form driver of the season da Matta at bay.

"I was beginning to wonder if I was ever going to win one of these things and everything worked our way today," said Brack.

"My crew had a good strategy and got me out of the pits first on our last stop and from there I had a fast car. All I had to do was make sure I didn't make any mistakes.

"We had led a lot of laps this year, but never the last one so to finally get a victory for this team is a good feeling. It's been a strange season and I thought we would challenge for the championship. But this is a good way to end our year," he said.

Brazilian da Matta just missed a record-equalling eight wins in a CART season but did come away with a cheque of US$1 million for winning the Vanderbilt Cup -- the prize for series champion. Da Matta paid tribute to his team in placing second today and heading the championship standings by such a clear margin.

"To be honest, I didn't have a car that deserved to finish second today, but this is what makes us capable of winning the championship," said the 29-year-old Brazilian, who is heading to Formula One in 2003.

"I have to thank my crew 100 percent for this result. They smoked everybody on that last stop and that's the only reason I finished on the podium."

After dominating in practice and qualifying all weekend, Junqueira clinched second in the championship ahead of Patrick Carpentier with another podium finish after battling back from a first-lap mistake. By finishing ahead of Carpentier, Junqueira assured himself of the runners-up position in the series standings and the US$500,000 in prizemoney.

"Today was very tough. I made a silly mistake on the first lap and then I had to be patient the rest of the race," said the 26-year-old Brazilian.

"I don't know if I could have challenged Cristiano or Kenny in those final laps, but I couldn't even try. I just had to protect my spot and keep Patrick behind me to make sure we got second in the standings."

Another Brazilian Tony Kanaan led the first 40 laps in his Honda-powered Lola before a bungled pit stop ruined any opportunity to take his first win of the year.

Michael Andretti's final CART race was brought to a premature end when he slammed his Honda into the wall after spinning on lap 51.

The winner of the Vanderbilt Cup for the series champion Cristiano da Matta accrued 237 points to win the US$1 million. Second placegetter Bruno Junqueira tallied 164 points while third place was secured by Canada's Patrick Carpentier with 157 points. Da Matta's 73-point advantage in the championship was the second largest victory gap in modern CART history behind Alex Zanardi's 116-point winning margin in 1998.

The performances of da Matta and Junqueira paved the way for Brazil to take the Nation's Cup with 325 points from Canada (247) and USA (164), also greatly assisted Toyota in winning the Manufacturer's Cup and Lola the Constructor's Cup.

Honda Indy 300 winner Mario Dominguez (Herdez Competition) was a clear victor in the Rookie of the Year stakes.

-hi-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Bruno Junqueira , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Zanardi , Tony Kanaan , Kenny Brack , Mario Dominguez , Chip Ganassi , Cristiano da Matta