Making a last-minute call on a splash of gas is the deciding factor in the Miller Lite 225. by Robin Miller WEST ALLIS, Wis. -- Paul Tracy's crew gambled; Jimmy Vasser's didn't. Those were the bottom lines of Sunday's Miller Lite 225, which...
Making a last-minute call on a splash of gas is the deciding factor in the Miller Lite 225. by Robin Miller
WEST ALLIS, Wis. -- Paul Tracy's crew gambled; Jimmy Vasser's didn't. Those were the bottom lines of Sunday's Miller Lite 225, which saw Tracy break a two-year victory drought with a strategic win at State Fair Park.
Running fourth behind Juan Montoya, Vasser and Gil de Ferran, heading into what should have been everyone's last pit stop, Tracy got some long-needed luck. Montoya and de Ferran pitted under the green on lap 209, which moved Tracy into second. Then, Roberto Moreno spun after making contact with Christian Fittipaldi, bringing out the caution on lap 210.
Vasser, who ran strong all day in his Target Reynard/Honda/Firestone, was called into the pits for a final splash of fuel on lap 212.
In opposition, Tracy was told by owner Barry Green and engineer Tony Cicale to stay out. Greg Moore heard the same thing from his Player's team. "I asked if they were sure, and they told me everything was cool," said Tracy, who hadn't won since May 1997 at St. Louis. "That was good enough for me." The green waved again on lap 217, then the track immediately went yellow when P.J. Jones spun in turn 4. That yellow probably allowed Tracy the breathing room he needed -- when the green waved for the final time on lap 221, the 30-year-old Canadian was long gone. He beat Moore to the checkered flag by five seconds. Vasser, who wound up fifth, showed the hunger he had in 1996 when he captured the PPG championship. He couldn't hide his disappointment. "We had enough fuel to stay out," Vasser said. "The other guys did it and we should have."
Moore, who had 11 lapped cars between himself and Tracy on the final restart, and no chance to overtake his countryman, was more than satisfied to come home second.
Interestingly, it was de Ferran who turned in the strongest run of the 225-lap race, after starting 16th in the Valvoline Reynard/Honda/Goodyear, "We needed this after last week," said de Ferran, referring to the pit accident that left one of his crewman with a concussion. "It's not fun looking in your mirrors and seeing one of your own lying there. It's not a good feeling."
Patrick Carpentier finished fifth in the other Player's Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone, because he didn't make the final pit stop either.