CHAMPCAR/CART: Montreal: Honda race report

Franchitti finishes first in Montreal. Dario Franchitti battled Cristiano da Matta from start to finish at today's Molson Indy Montreal, but the Honda-powered driver set fastest race lap and led the most laps enroute to his second CART FedEx ...

Franchitti finishes first in Montreal.

Dario Franchitti battled Cristiano da Matta from start to finish at today's Molson Indy Montreal, but the Honda-powered driver set fastest race lap and led the most laps enroute to his second CART FedEx Championship Series race win of the season, and the fourth for Honda.

The Team KOOL Green driver shadowed da Matta for the first 10 laps of the 80-lap inaugural event at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, then took over at the front when da Matta's team elected to pit during an early full-course caution period. Then a late race caution set up a five-lap "Trophy Dash" to the finish with Franchitti holding on for a 2.5-second margin of victory.

Just as at Vancouver earlier this year, Tony Kanaan charged up through the field to finish third today for Mo Nunn Racing, while Paul Tracy battled with Jimmy Vasser throughout the race to finish fourth.

Shinji Nakano ran strongly during the first half of the race, just behind the Tracy-Vasser battle. But a long pit stop and transmission problems later in his run dropped the Fernandez Racing driver to a ninth place finish. Michael Andretti finished eighth for Team Motorola after losing time due to a cut tire on the opening race lap, while Adrian Fernandez's day ended early with contact on the 79th lap.

Next week, the CART FedEx series concludes a run of races on four consecutive weekends with the inaugural Shell Grand Prix of Denver.

Honda Fast Facts

· This was Honda's fourth race victory of 2002, and second win in Canada. Both the Vancouver and Montreal race wins were recorded by Franchitti, with Kanaan finishing third.

· Today's win also moves Franchitti back into second place in the CART driver's championship standings.

Dario Franchitti (#27 Team KOOL Green Honda) Started 2nd, finished 1st, 2nd race win of 2002:

"Races like this are always fun! (Cristiano) da Matta and I were on different parts of the track most of the race due to being on different strategies, but he still had me on my toes. I never knew if he was going to be coming out of the pits or whatever, so I really needed to push it and build up as much of a lead as possible. On the last restart, when he got stuck in traffic, I knew that I had an advantage over him and we were looking very good to the end. The last 20 laps or so I also had to be a bit careful with the brakes. I didn't want to have the repeat of a while back when I went for the brake pedal and it went to the floor with only a handful of laps to go. It was very difficult to pass here so you really needed to rely on strategy, luck and maybe taking a chance on the out laps. But taking a chance on the out laps is risky as well with full tanks and cold tires. So it was really a big balancing act today."

Tony Kanaan (#10 Pioneer/WorldCom/Mo Nunn Racing Honda) Started 13th, finished 4th:

"We ended up changing the car completely for the race: shocks, springs, suspension, everything. I told (team owner) Morris (Nunn) and (engineer) Iain Watt that I am not here to be 13th, so we put all of our heads together and came up with a car that was consistent throughout the race. We ran every lap like a qualifying lap, but it paid off. It was a bit of a nerve-racking race: we broke an (exhaust) header in the middle of the race and we lost the clutch 15 laps from the finish. As I crossed the finish line the side pod (bodywork) started to burn from the header and so we came in burning! A dramatic way to go to the (victory) podium.

Paul Tracy (#26 Team KOOL Green Honda) Started 10th, finished 4th:

"I had a great race today with Jimmy (Vasser). We went at it from start to finish, but we also knew not to get into each other TOO much because we're flying back home to Las Vegas together tonight! I was flat out the whole day. Overall, I'm very satisfied with the results today: a fourth place finish for us and a win for Dario is great."

Shinji Nakano (#52 Twin Ring Motegi/Fernandez Racing Honda) Started 9th, finished 9th:

"We changed the car quite a lot from yesterday to today, and made big progress for the race. Unfortunately, I stalled the engine on one of my pit stops when I got a faulty gear selector reading on the dash. We have had some good race cars this year, but we need to work on qualifying."

Adrian Fernandez (#51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex/Fernandez Racing Honda) Started 16th, finished 12th (not running - contact):

"It was a frustrating weekend. We just had too many problems in practice and qualifying, and then started to loose (turbocharger) boost in the race. Finally, I went a little wide in turn seven, got on the "marbles" and they basically took me into the wall. Physically, I am fine, but it was a disappointing day."


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Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Adrian Fernandez , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Shinji Nakano , Gilles Villeneuve , Cristiano da Matta , Mo Nunn