CHAMPCAR/CART: Motegi: Team KOOL Green race report

MOTEGI, Japan - By virtue of finishing third in today's Bridgestone Potenza 500 at the Twin Ring Motegi superspeedway, Team KOOL Green driver Dario Franchitti took the points lead in the 2002 FedEx Championship Series. Franchitti started fifth...

MOTEGI, Japan - By virtue of finishing third in today's Bridgestone Potenza 500 at the Twin Ring Motegi superspeedway, Team KOOL Green driver Dario Franchitti took the points lead in the 2002 FedEx Championship Series.

Franchitti started fifth and overcame an early mistake in pit strategy to come home third behind race winner Bruno Junquiera and runner-up Alex Tagliani. His third place finish earned him 14 points, giving him a total of 34 after three rounds, and a two-point lead over Michel Jourdain.

Tracy started third, passed race leader Tony Kanaan as the pair exited the pits after the first pit stop on lap 39 and then looked to have the field covered as he led the next 38 laps. But Tracy's day ended on lap 84 when a wheel-bearing failure destroyed the right-front suspension and wheel rim, ending his day.

Speed Channel television coverage of the race begins on Saturday at 12:00 p.m., with a half-hour pre-race show, followed by full race coverage from 12:30 - 3:00 p.m. All times are Eastern Daylight Time.

Paul Tracy - #26 KOOL Honda-Lola-Bridgestone
"A wheel bearing went bad and it just blew the whole inside of the (right-front) wheel rim out. Obviously it's a very disappointing day for Team KOOL Green. We were the class of the field there for awhile. I was just biding my time. We had awesome power from Honda and the car was very balanced - it was just about perfect. We had a wheel-bearing problem on Thursday with the left rear, so we knew it could be a potential problem today. But it felt great to run up front, we did learn a lot this weekend and we certainly showed how much potential the Lola has. We just need more laps on it."

RACE
Started: 11th
Finished: 19th
Laps Completed: 84 of 201
Points Earned: 0
Championship Standing: 15th with 11 points

John Anderson, Team KOOL Green race consultant
"We obviously haven't had enough time with the new Lola. These type of things would have shown up in testing, but we needed to press on and get racing with it as soon as possible. The problem showed itself in practice on Thursday, when we had a similar problem with the left rear. But it was very gratifying to see Paul running up front. We learned a lot about the car this weekend and that will pay off for us down the road."

Dario Franchitti -- #27 KOOL Honda-Reynard-Bridgestone
"We came here with one objective and that was to win the race. But we made a mistake on our pit strategy on that first caution flag. We wanted to top off our fuel before we went back to green, but we came in too late - just as the field was going back to green - and we lost a lap. After that, I was just attacking every lap. I was trying to make up any advantage I could because you never know what can happen. The Team KOOL Green crew did an awesome job on the pit stops today and that kept us in the running. But I'm very sorry for the guys at Honda because they worked so hard for this one and I think they had the engine to win it today. It's great to have the points lead, but we really wanted to win this race."

RACE
Started: 5 th
Finished: 3 rd
Laps Completed: 200 of 201
Points Earned: 14
Championship Standing: 1st with 34 points

Kyle Moyer, Team Manager
"We had a really good finish considering how the day started. We got caught out trying to top-off our fuel at the end of the first caution flag. CART officials on pit lane normally give us a one-lap-to-go-green sign and they didn't today. They don't have to, but they normally do. We certainly wouldn't have pitted if we'd known we were going back to green on the next lap. That put us down one lap and it's really hard to make that up. Dario certainly did everything he could, and the Team KOOL Green crew did their part giving him some awesome pit stops."

-tkg-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , John Anderson