Team Penske proved to be on top form this weekend at the thirteenth event in the 2000 Fedex Championship Series calendar at Mid-Ohio road course, with the Penske drivers starting alongside each other on the front row and finishing the race first...
Team Penske proved to be on top form this weekend at the thirteenth event in the 2000 Fedex Championship Series calendar at Mid-Ohio road course, with the Penske drivers starting alongside each other on the front row and finishing the race first and second in their Penske Honda Reynard champ cars, after a domination of the 83 lap race. The result gave the team its first 1-2 since 1994 and brought Honda its 50th victory in the CART Series, since entering the championship seven years ago. Helio Castroneves recorded his second victory of the season, taking the chequered flag 4.425 seconds ahead of team mate Gil de Ferran.
The podium was rounded out by Christian Fittipaldi in the Newman Haas Ford Lola, whose third-place effort matched a season best established at Portland. Team Rahal drivers, Max Papis, Miller Lite Ford Reynard and Kenny Brack, Shell Ford Reynard, recorded strong finishes for the Ohio based team with fourth and fifth places, respectively. It was Papis' best performance since a runner-up effort at Detroit while Brack delivered the seventh top-six performance in his past 10 starts.
Castroneves commented after the race: "Gil was tough at the start. It was going to be tough to pass him, so I just tried to stay with him because I knew we both had good cars and we could go away from the field. That was the most difficult part for me. I didn't say a word on the radio the whole race to save energy. This race track is very tough and I was just trying to stay focused. The guys did a fantastic job on the pit stops. I was doing a little bit better with my health today, and I got stronger as the race went on. I didn't have much of a problem with traffic. Towards the end when the full-course yellows came out, I just tried to stay focused and bring it home."
De Ferran added, "It's a great day for the whole team. Obviously, I'm happy to be up here on the podium. I didn't have enough to beat Helio, and had some of my own problems today, but today's performance is good and it bodes well for next week at Elkhart Lake. We were trying to save as much fuel at the beginning of the race. I could tell Helio would be tough. He was able to deal with traffic very quickly and go away, and it took me forever to deal with it. By the time I got through the traffic, he was 15 seconds up the road. On the last restart, I couldn't get past [Roberto] Moreno and [Oriol] Servia. They weren't slow, and they were not going to stop in the middle of the track to let me have a go at Helio. From then on, I just tried not to make a mistake."
Penske's resounding victory has kept Reynard in the lead of the Constructors Championship, with 257 points scored to Lola's 205. The fourteenth round of the 20 event Series takes place next weekend at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
<pre> Mid-Ohio top 12 finishers
1 Helio Castroneves Honda Reynard 2 Gil de Ferran Honda Reynard 3 Christian Fittipaldi Ford Lola 4 Max Papis Ford Reynard 5 Kenny Brack (R) Ford Reynard 6 Adrian Fernandez Ford Reynard 7 Patrick Carpentier Ford Reynard 8 Michael Andretti Ford Lola 9 Alexandre Tagliani(R) Ford Reynard 10 Oriol Servia (R) Toyota Reynard 11 Roberto Moreno Ford Reynard 12 Memo Gidley Toyota Reynard
CURRENT STANDINGS (through 13 of 20 FedEx Series races)
1 Michael Andretti 125 2 Gil de Ferran 106 3 Roberto Moreno 100 4 Kenny Brack 88 5 Adrian Fernandez 87 6 Cristiano da Matta 82 7 Paul Tracy 80 8 Helio Castroneves 77 9 Juan Montoya 77 10 Patrick Carpentier 71 11 Max Papis 68 12 Jimmy Vasser 68
Constructor's Championship 1 Reynard 257 2 Lola 205 3 Swift 5