Fernandez first under the checkers: Wins wild 20th annual G.I. Joe's 200 at Portland. Adrian Fernandez earned his first Champ Car victory since Australia in 2000 in his ...
Fernandez first under the checkers: Wins wild 20th annual G.I. Joe's 200 at Portland.
Adrian Fernandez earned his first Champ Car victory since Australia in 2000 in his #51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Lola/Ford-Cosworth/Bridgestone racer, flying under the checkered flags 2.273 seconds in front of the #3 Team Player's Lola of Paul Tracy. Alex Tagliani took the #33 Johnson Controls Lola to third place, 4.457 seconds behind the leader. Bruno Junqueira improved from 11th to take fourth place in the #1 PacifiCare Lola while Oriol Servia rounded out a top-five sweep for Lola in his #20 Visteon car.
Fernandez made his pass on Tracy after the race's fifth caution (of six) entering Turn 1 on lap 85. "My car was working so well at that point that I figured it was now or never," The Mexican ace's team had "fantastic pit stops and while my car wasn't perfect at the beginning, it got better" as the race progressed.
Tracy was "disappointed for my team. I made a mistake and let Adrian get past me," after leading 42 laps of the 100-lap G.I. Joe's 200, the Champ Cars' 20th visit to Portland International Raceway's 1.969-mile road circuit. Tagliani, who set fastest lap five from the end praised his Rocketsports team's strategy and noted, "I had a very competitive car today. While I had trouble getting up to temps on restarts, the car kept getting better."
"We didn't win yet this season but we have been consistent enough to finish top-five in all but one race so far," Junqueira stated. When low clouds turned to mist in the latter stages of the race, "I saw the sprinkles and decided not to take the chance" of overtaking Tagliani despite following closely. Servia's Lola was "good today. We were lacking just that little extra speed in the corners."
Despite the six caution periods, 13 cars were running at the close of 100 laps and 11 were on the lead lap. There were five lead changes and the race time of 1:56:16.626 was a new track record at this seminal road course.
Earning an extra point for leading the most laps, Tracy holds the point lead heading to race #9 at Cleveland on July 5th with 99. Junqueira is second with 95 points while Michel Jourdain Jr., who finished 12th in the #9 Gigante Lola after dominating the first part of the race and tangling with Tracy is third with 91. Non-finisher Patrick Carpentier (#32 Team Player's Lola) holds fourth with 70 points and Fernandez moves to fifth in the standings, becoming the first Champ Car owner-driver to win a race since Bobby Rahal in 1992.