WEST ALLIS, Wis. (June 3, 2001) - Kenny Brack of Team Rahal, who went 23 starts before claiming his first career FedEx Championship Series victory in Japan two weeks ago, made it two in a row and added to his championship points lead Sunday by ...
WEST ALLIS, Wis. (June 3, 2001) - Kenny Brack of Team Rahal, who went 23 starts before claiming his first career FedEx Championship Series victory in Japan two weeks ago, made it two in a row and added to his championship points lead Sunday by claiming the Miller Lite 225 at The Milwaukee Mile.
Brack (Shell Ford Lola) led a race-high 130 laps from the pole and took the lead for good on Lap 183 of 225 with a pass of Michael Andretti in Turn 2 on the 1.032-mile oval. Brack went on to a 1.307-second victory over Andretti in the sixth round of the FedEx Championship Series championship and became the first multiple winner of the 2001 season.
Brack collected 21 points for the effort - 20 for the victory and one for leading the most race laps - and added substantially to his championship lead when his four closest pursuers all experienced early exits as a result of contact.
With 70 points, Brack now leads Helio Castroneves (47) of Marlboro Team Penske by 23 heading into Round 7, the June 17 Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit on The Raceway at Belle Isle. Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard), the reigning Indianapolis 500 champion who started on the outside pole, exited on the opening lap after brushing wheels with Brack, then spinning into the path of Cristiano da Matta (Texaco/Havoline/Kmart Toyota Lola), who was also unfortunately collected in the incident.
It marked the second consecutive rapid departure for da Matta, who entered Japan with the championship points lead, but has completed only one lap combined in the two events since. He was involved in opening-lap contact with rookie Bruno Junqueira (Target Toyota Lola) at Japan and has now slipped to 30 points behind Brack in the championship standings, with 40 points.
Early departures were also experienced by fourth-place Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard), who made contact with the Turn 1 wall on Lap 12, and fifth-place Jimmy Vasser (Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard) who exited after 132 laps due to contact, also in Turn 1.
Da Matta, Tracy and Vasser remain grouped at 40 points in third through fifth place in the championship chase. Andretti's (Motorola Honda Reynard) runner-up effort, his first podium finish with Team Motorola, moved him into eighth in the championship with 36 points.
Rookie Scott Dixon (Powerware Panasonic PacWest Toyota) of the PacWest Racing Group rounded out the podium with a third-place finish, his second podium performance of the season following a victory at Nazareth. He stands sixth in the championship with 38 points.
Fourth-place went to rookie Bruno Junqueira (Target Toyota Lola) of Target Chip Ganassi Racing, a career-best performance in his fifth CART start. Adrian Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Honda Reynard), runner-up in the 2000 FedEx Championship Series championship, finished fifth to earn his first FedEx Championship Series points of the season after forming Fernandez Racing with former Target/Ganassi Team Manager Tom Anderson at the end of the 2000 campaign.
The Miller Lite 225 was Round 6 of 21 in the 2001 FedEx Championship Series. The series visits seven countries and four continents during the season and climaxes with the season-ending Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota on Sunday, Nov. 4 at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif. Thanks to a partnership between Marlboro, Toyota, CART and California Speedway, the winner of the season finale will collect $1 million. An additional $1 million, as well as the prestigious Vanderbilt Cup, will be awarded to the driver who wins the FedEx Championship Series championship.
A crowd of 39,739 witnessed the event.
KENNY BRACK, Shell Ford Lola: "Obviously, it was very difficult conditions today. This weekend, we didn't have much running. We only got two hours on Friday, and nothing until this morning. Because of that, the cars had different setups, and the teams didn't get the perfect setup. Maybe we didn't either, but it was better than the rest. [At the start] I got side-by-side with Helio [Castroneves], and I don't know why we didn't hit but we didn't. I saw Michael [Andretti] in my mirror, and that's not a good sight, because he's won here five times. It was a tough race today. It doesn't make a difference in terms of performance, but it's nice when [team owner] Bobby [Rahal] is here and can see us do well. That's something he can take back with him to Jaguar and be proud of. We talk a lot on the phone. He was here, and his last race was Long Beach, and a week ago I was in England, so we're in contact. I wasn't sure about the Lola chassis until Mexico, because we weren't that good on the road courses in testing. We were pretty worried, but we worked to get a good understanding of the car, and it is a good car. The Lola has a good window, and if it's not spot-on, it's still a good car. It's hard to race in this series, and to win two races is a fantastic result. You have to win the races you can win, and finish the races you can't."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI, Motorola Honda Reynard: "It was a strange race, one of fuel mileage. In the middle stages we were just cruising around trying to save fuel. It was very hard to pass lapped cars. You'd get right up behind them in the turbulence and just stop. At the end of the race, I developed a huge understeer, and I couldn't catch Kenny. It is unfortunate, because we had a good car early on. Team Motorola did a great job, we came in [the pits] second, and went out first. It's just unfortunate, because we had a good car early. We had a problem this morning when the wing broke, and lost angle. I don't know what happened in the race, maybe it was the same thing. I didn't want to let Dixon know that I was having trouble, but then we got the lapped car between us on the last yellow, so I knew it was going to be okay."
SCOTT DIXON, Powerware Panasonic PacWest Toyota: "It was a good race with where we started. The car was pretty bad on Friday. The car needed a lot of work, and maybe we could have qualified a little better, but not much better than eighth. The car was working pretty well all day. The Toyota engine was really strong. Both my first win in Indy Lights and my first win in Champ Cars [at Nazareth] were on mile ovals. I think the way I drive works well on the one-mile ovals. We need to work on qualifying for the mile ovals, the car was pretty bad in qualifying at Nazareth. I had plenty of fuel on-board, and it looked like Michael was getting looser and looser. I could have made a run on him had I been a little closer. But then the last yellow came out and Patrick [Carpentier] got between us, so I couldn't get up to him."
* CART Chief Steward Chris Kneifel excluded Tora Takagi from the conclusion of the race for blocking (CART Rule 8.12) and unjustifiable risk (CART Rule 8.13) regarding his incident with Jimmy Vasser on Lap 133. Takagi was credited with 134 laps completed. "Tora initiated the contact and it was uncalled for," Kneifel said. "Tora was a lapped car and Jimmy was running third at the time. Prior to the contact, Jimmy made a couple of legitimate overtaking attempts and then, as they crossed the start/finish line, Jimmy pulled alongside Tora, who then began to squeeze him. We will not tolerate such actions." The move to exclude a driver during an event was not unprecedented and happened as recently as last season. Michael Andretti (Rio de Janeiro), Takuya Kurosawa (Japan), Paul Tracy (Detroit) and Cristiano da Matta (Road America) were all excluded for a portion of events last season, all as the result of pit-lane incidents involving contact with pit crew members. Additionally, Alex Tagliani, was penalized a loss of position by Kneifel for blocking Alex Zanardi on the final laps (CART Rule 8.12). Tagliani was moved from 11th to 12th in the finishing order, while Zanardi was moved to 11th. Due to the penalty, Tagliani earned one championship point, instead of two.
* Kenny Brack's (Shell Ford Lola) victory extended a run of outstanding performances on one-mile ovals, which began during his rookie season of 2000. Brack has now finished fourth or better in all five of his career starts on one-mile ovals, including third at Nazareth last year, fourth at Milwaukee and Chicago last year and second at Nazareth this season. Brack has now scored championship points in nine of 12 career FedEx Championship Series starts on ovals.
* Michael Andretti (Motorola Honda Reynard) recorded his 10th podium result in 17 career starts at The Milwaukee Mile with his runner-up finish. The others include victories in 1986, '87, '91, '92 and '96; runner-up performances in 1989, '97 and 2000 and third in 1995. Overall, he has finished seventh or better in 14 of 17 career starts at The Mile.
* Rookie Scott Dixon (Powerware Panasonic PacWest Toyota), who finished third, led two laps, marking the fourth time in five starts during his rookie season that he has led at least one lap. He also led 14 laps at Mexico, 36 en route to victory at Nazareth and one at Japan.
* Kenny Brack's victory was the 100th CART victory for the Lola chassis, making Lola the first chassis manufacturer in CART history to reach the century mark. Lola's first victory came from Michael Andretti in 1983 at Road America, and the constructor has won at least one event in all but three seasons since, including 12 of 16 in 1990 and 14 of 17 in 1991. Lola has received victories this season from Cristiano da Matta (Texaco/Havoline/Kmart Toyota Lola) at Mexico and Brack at Japan and Milwaukee. "I'm extremely pleased to be part of Lola's 100th CART win," said Bobby Rahal, owner of Team Rahal. "Lola cars have been a major part of my racing career. I won my last two CART series championships, in 1987 and '92, in Lola Champ Cars. So, it is fitting that we can bring Lola its 100th victory this year. Lola cars have accomplished a tremendous feat in our sport and the Lola staff should be commended for its continued success."
* Michael Andretti's runner-up finish allowed Honda to break a tie at 70 points and take an 86-84 lead over Toyota for the CART Manufacturers' Championship. Toyota's best finish Sunday came from rookie Scott Dixon, who finished third.
* The nine different leaders and 12 lead changes were a record for a CART event at The Milwaukee Mile, which has hosted CART competition since 1979.
* Christian Fittipaldi (Kmart Toyota Lola) of Newman/Haas Racing made his 100th FedEx Championship Series start Sunday, but saw his run of 18 scoring performances in 19 oval starts come to an end when he finished 18th. Fittipaldi, who made his first CART start at Miami in 1995, had scored in all but one oval event since finishing seventh in the 1998 season finale at California Speedway.
* A pair of milestones were observed with the presentation of framed green flags to Newman/Haas Racing co-owner Carl Haas and Team Motorola driver Michael Andretti prior to Sunday's Miller Lite 225 at The Milwaukee Mile. Haas, who co-owns the Newman/Haas team with actor Paul Newman and serves as promoter of the Miller Lite 225, was honored in recognition of Newman/Haas' 300th CART start in the May 19 Firestone Firehawk 500 at Motegi, Japan. Newman/Haas owns 59 victories and 62 pole positions in its 19 years of CART competition, as well as championships in 1984 with Mario Andretti; 1991 with Michael Andretti and 1993 with Nigel Mansell. The Newman/Haas team has won at least one event in 18 of its 19 years in the FedEx Championship Series. Michael Andretti was honored for establishing a CART record of 274 career starts at Japan, breaking a tie with Al Unser Jr. Andretti also owns CART career records of 41 victories, 6,484 laps led, eight victories in a season and 13 seasons with at least one victory.
The FedEx Championship Series continues with Round 7, the Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit, June 15-17 on The Raceway at Belle Isle.