CHAMPCAR/CART: Michel Jourdain Jr finishes best of the Mercedes drivers

Helio Castroneves captured his first career Champ Car victory Sunday at the Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit, giving the 2000 FedEx Championship Series its seventh winner in as many races. Castroneves finished 4.415 seconds ahead of Max...

Helio Castroneves captured his first career Champ Car victory Sunday at the Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit, giving the 2000 FedEx Championship Series its seventh winner in as many races. Castroneves finished 4.415 seconds ahead of Max Papis in the 84-lap event on the 2.346-mile temporary street circuit on Belle Isle. Castroneves assumed the lead on lap 61 when pole-sitter and race leader Juan Montoya retired with mechanical problems shortly after the second round of pit stops.

Michel Jourdain Jr., piloting the Herdez/Bettenhausen Motorsports Mercedes, started from the eighth row and drove a determined race that included wheel-banging with Jimmy Vasser at the start and on-track passes for position of Alex Tagliani and Mark Blundell. Jourdain Jr. improved eight places to finish eighth. It was Jourdain Jr.'s best finish of the season and his best result at Detroit in four career appearances.

"The team worked very hard today," said the Mexican pilot. "We have improved with every race we have run, and that is encouraging for us as we go into the second part of the season." In his fifth year of CART Champ Car competition, Jourdain Jr. has already set a personal best for driver's championship points in one year -- with two-thirds of the season still to run.

Mark Blundell had an eventful day on the Belle Isle circuit. Starting from the eighth row, the British driver was 14th following the first round of pit stops on lap 26. On lap 35, Blundell spun into the tire barriers. CART workers restarted his race car, returning Blundell to competition two laps down. On lap 61, Blundell was caught in a tangle with Christian Fittipaldi and Gil de Ferran. Fittipaldi bumped Blundell with his left rear tire while completing a pass of Blundell's lapped car entering the righthanded Turn 11. De Ferran tapped Fittipaldi from behind, sending all three cars into the tire barrier. Again, Blundell's car was restarted and continued, and the veteran finished 11th for his third points-paying performance of the season.

Teammate Mauricio Gugelmin pitted his PacWest Racing Nextel on lap seven with a minor mechanical problem. Returning to the race track five laps down, Gugelmin continued to the checkered flag and finished 16th. Hollywood/Arciero Project Racing Mercedes driver Luiz Garcia Jr. finished 22nd after retiring with gearbox problems on lap 25.

Kanaan Recovering from Qualifying Crash Injuries

Tony Kanaan, driver of the Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Mercedes, underwent successful surgery Saturday evening to repair two broken bones in his left forearm sustained in a single-car crash during the final qualifying session. Dr. David Karges of Detroit Receiving Hospital performed the procedure that involved the insertion of two metal plates and 14 screws to repair the forearm fractures. Kanaan also suffered four cracked ribs and a mild concussion. The Brazilian pilot is expected to recover in four to six weeks. The team is expected to announce a replacement driver shortly for next weekend's Freightliner/G.I. Joe's 200 at Portland, Ore.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Jimmy Vasser , Max Papis , Alex Tagliani , Christian Fittipaldi , Tony Kanaan , Mauricio Gugelmin , Mark Blundell , Michel Jourdain , Luiz Garcia , Mo Nunn