CHAMPCAR/CART: Michigan report

PRUETT EDGES UNSER JR. BY .056 SECONDS IN SECOND-CLOSEST INDY CAR RACE BROOKLYN, Mich. (July 30, 1995) - Scott Pruett pulled his Firestone Patrick Racing Lola Ford-Cosworth alongside Al Unser Jr.'s Marlboro Penske Mercedes in between Turns 3...


BROOKLYN, Mich. (July 30, 1995) - Scott Pruett pulled his Firestone Patrick Racing Lola Ford-Cosworth alongside Al Unser Jr.'s Marlboro Penske Mercedes in between Turns 3 and 4 of the last lap and then beat the 1994 PPG Cup Champion to the finish line by .056 seconds to win the Marlboro 500 at Michigan International Speedway in the second-closest race in modern Indy Car history.

Pruett's win was his first career PPG Cup victory as he became the third first-time IndyCar winner this season and the eighth overall victor during the 1995 campaign. The win also marked the first for Patrick Racing since 1989 in addition to Firestone's first victory since Al Unser took the checkered flag here at MIS in 1974.

Pruett traded the lead 10 times with Unser Jr. throughout the race's final 122 laps. The battle culminated on the last lap with Unser Jr. slipping past Pruett in Turn one. The Firestone driver then caught a tow from the Penske down the back straight before making his dramatic outside move through the last turn.

The early portions of the race were dominated by a pair of Honda drivers. Parker Johnstone, who won Saturday's pole position with a 31.242-second lap (230.458 mph), quickly pulled away from the field in his first career oval start. The Motorola Cellular Reynard driver opened up as much as a 17-second lead before pitting on Lap 49 due to brake problems. Johnstone's problems helped propel Andre Ribeiro's LCI Reynard Honda into the lead. The 1994 PPG-Firestone Indy Lights Rookie of the Year then led 68 of the next 80 laps before retiring due to electrical problems on Lap 130.

Paul Tracy (Kmart/Budweiser Lola Ford), Teo Fabi (Combustion Engineering/Indeck Reynard Ford), Eddie Cheever (Copenhagen Lola Ford) and Mauricio Gugelmin (Hollywood Reynard Ford) all took turns out front as well before the Pruett-Unser Jr. duel began on lap 129. In the heat of the fight as incident on Lap 190 knocked three cars out of the race and, most likely, ended Danny Sullivan's season. Lyn St. James (Giant/Strum/Whitlock Lola Ford) lost an engine with Sullivan's VISA Reynard Ford collecting the slowing St. James. Bryan Herta's Target/Scotch Video Reynard Ford was eliminated after being struck by a bouncing tire from the collision. Sullivan suffered a broken pelvis and was scheduled for Monday surgery in Indianapolis.

Lost in the excitement of Pruett's victory was a career-best third-place finish for Adrian Fernandez in the Tecate Beer/Quaker State Lola Mercedes-Benz despite falling a lap down early in the race after a near-collision with Johnstone in the pit lane. He was forced to take an extra lap after missing his own pit to avoid contact with the Honda driver. The podium finish moved Fernandez into 11th place in the PPG Cup standings and continued a strong run that begin at Nazareth.

Fabi finished fourth with Emerson Fittipaldi (Marlboro Penske Mercedes-Benz) closing out the top-five with his best finish since Nazareth. Stefan Johansson (Alumaz Aluminum Penske Mercedes) was sixth followed by Jimmy Vasser (Target/STP Reynard Ford), Bobby Rahal (Miller Genuine Draft Lola Mercedes-Benz), Christian Fittipaldi (Marlboro/Chapeco Reynard Ford) and Jacques Villeneuve (Player's Ltd. Reynard Ford).

Despite early wheel bearing problems that dropped him 15 laps down, Villeneuve persevered for a 10th-place finish to maintain his PPG Cup points lead. Rahal closed the Canadian's lead to 30 points (141-111) with Robby Gordon third (99), despite not racing at MIS due to a Friday practice accident that sidelined the Californian for the weekend after suffering a concussion. Michael Andretti (Kmart/Texaco Havoline Lola Ford) is fourth with 96, while Pruett climbed to fifth with 93.

The United States stretched its lead in the Nation's Cup to 52 points over Canada (222-170) while Brazil is third with 139. Lola's victory closed Reynard's lead to 14 points (220-206) in the Constructor's Championship. Penske sits third with 125. Pruett's win was the 11th in 13 races this season for Ford which holds a commanding 252-194 lead over Mercedes-Benz with Honda third (17).

The PPG Indy Car World Series continues August 13 with the Miller Genuine Draft 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

For more information, contact CART at (810) 362-8800

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jacques Villeneuve , Stefan Johansson , Robby Gordon , Eddie Cheever , Al Unser Jr. , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Adrian Fernandez , Bobby Rahal , Paul Tracy , Mauricio Gugelmin , Bryan Herta , Scott Pruett , Lyn St. James , Al Unser Sr. , Emerson Fittipaldi , Teo Fabi , Andre Ribeiro