Tracy & Fernandez Finish 1-2 for Honda Following on the heels of his thrilling late-race charge at last weekend's Indianapolis 500, Team KOOL Green's Paul Tracy led 184 laps while dominating the opening and final stages of today's Miller Lite...
Tracy & Fernandez Finish 1-2 for Honda
Following on the heels of his thrilling late-race charge at last weekend's Indianapolis 500, Team KOOL Green's Paul Tracy led 184 laps while dominating the opening and final stages of today's Miller Lite 250 for his first CART FedEx Championship Series victory of 2002. The win also was Honda's second of the season, and moved the company back into the lead of the CART Manufacturer's Championship standings.
The Canadian took the lead at the green flag from pole qualifier Adrian Fernandez, who fell back to sixth place in the opening laps, but then began working his way back to the front of the field, closing to within less than a second of Tracy at the checkered.
Following up on his best qualifying performance of the season to date, Shinji Nakano jumped up to third place in the early going, until a suspension failure sent him to the pits on lap 42. Tony Kanaan moved up four places in the opening laps to fourth place, but had his run halted by a loose transmission oil line.
Starting 13th, Michael Andretti charged all the way up to second place by lap 100, but spun on cold tires during a restart. The veteran kept his Team Motorola Honda off the wall, but fell back to a seventh place finish. Dario Franchitti also appeared set for a top five result, but slid up into the second turn wall on lap 188 and was finished for the afternoon.
Today's race at the Milwaukee Mile was the first of a three-race swing for the CART Champ Cars, as the series now heads to the west coast for next week's Grand Prix of Monterey at Laguna Seca Raceway in California.
Honda Fast Facts
· This is Honda's first 1-2 finish since Laguna Seca last year
· Honda's other race win this year was scored by Michael Andretti at Long Beach
· Honda earned a maximum 22 points this weekend for the victory, pole and most laps led
Paul Tracy (#26 Team KOOL Green Honda) started 2nd, finished 1st (first win of 2002): "I'm very proud of the job everyone on the team has done in the past month and a half. Running our regular CART program, and changing from Reynard to Lola chassis, plus the Indy 500. I think there are about 19 cars on the floor of our shop right now! Especially after everything that happened last week (at the Indianapolis 500), it feels great to be on the top step of the (victory) podium again."
Adrian Fernandez (#51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Fernandez Racing Honda) started 1st, finished 2nd: "For me, it was absolutely out of control to have the green flag wave. It should not have happened. Paul was setting the pace, and I was not going to let that happen, so I was backing off coming out of three and four. And he started accelerating and I bet you there were three cars at the start finish line that passed me, and that is where we lost the race. There was no way Paul was going to pass us on the track, our pit stops were very good all day, and the car was decent all day. It was frustrating to go from the pole to sixth place. After that we kept our cool and kept on working our way to the front. The pit stops were great and this finish shows the potential of our team. Fernandez Racing is a young team and it is not easy to put a team together to a level of Team Green, and to do that in a such a short period of time is just fantastic."
Michael Andretti (#39 Team Motorola Honda) started 13th, finished 7th: "Today was a pretty tough day. We lost track position on a couple of occasions and today track position was king. Once I lost that I really couldn't do anything. After the first few laps, passing was pretty close to impossible because of the turbulence from the aero package. The spin I had didn't help either. I came out on cold tires and the two guys in front of me were on warm tires and I was trying to stay with them and unfortunately, that dawned on me after I spun. I got on the throttle when they got on the throttle but I really should have been more careful. Even though I'm disappointed, we scored points for the championship so I guess all was not lost."
Shinji Nakano (#52 Alpine/Mitsuba Fernandez Racing Honda) started 6th, finished 18th (not running, suspension): "We had a pretty good car and it had the potential to finish on the podium. We had a loose car in the warm-up but we made some adjustments and the car was good in the race. It's a pity that we had the problem [the right front suspension broke] and had to stop. Hopefully, we are going to have better luck."