CHAMPCAR/CART: Portland Mercedes Race Notes

FedEx Championship Series Report Race: Budweiser/G.I. Joe's 200, Portland International Raceway, Portland, Ore. Date/Session: Sunday, June 20, 1999 Race Results Heartbreak for Helio At Portland Castro-Neves' Day Ends...

FedEx Championship Series Report

Race: Budweiser/G.I. Joe's 200, Portland International Raceway, Portland, Ore.

Date/Session: Sunday, June 20, 1999 Race Results

Heartbreak for Helio At Portland Castro-Neves' Day Ends Early; Moreno and Carpentier Finish in Top 10

After winning his first career Champ Car pole position two weeks ago at The Milwaukee Mile, sophomore driver Helio Castro-Neves and his Hogan Racing team had high hopes. Quick all weekend in practice and qualifying on the front-row for the third time this season, Castro-Neves moved his Mercedes-powered Lola race car past PPG Cup points leader Juan Montoya on the first-turn chicane, and led the first 30 laps around the 1.969-mile Portland International Raceway road course. But his day ended early when a valve spring failed. Second-row starter Gil de Ferran claimed round eight of the CART FedEx Championship Series with a 4.393-second victory over Juan Montoya, and moved into third place in the PPG Cup standings.

"It's tough. We've worked so hard," said Castro-Neves. "The car was great again this weekend, and was strong enough to win the race. The tires were handling well, and we were conserving fuel. What can I say? Racing is racing, so we'll just have to go on." "Super Sub" Comes Through Again A well-executed fuel conservation strategy enabled PacWest Racing's Roberto "Super Sub" Moreno to earn a seventh-place finish -- his best Portland result. The Brazilian has earned PPG Cup points in each of the four races where he has substituted for injured Motorola Mercedes driver Mark Blundell.

Player's/Forsythe driver Patrick Carpentier, who started on the fourth row, received a black flag for a pit-lane speed limit violation on his first pit stop, and consequently dropped back to 18th place. The Canadian conserved enough fuel to forego a late-race pit stop, and fought his way back to finish ninth -- equaling his best career appearance at the event. Player's/Forsythe driver Greg Moore ran in the top 10 for most of the race, but was forced to make a splash-and-go stop with less than five laps to go, and ended up in 13th place. Moore is in fourth place in the PPG Cup driver's championship standings.

Al Unser Jr., who won the first of his 31 Champ Car victories in this event, started 26th and finished 16th in the No. 2 Marlboro Team Penske Mercedes. Teammate Tarso Marques made contact with Tony Kanaan on the first lap, but continued on course without damage. Later, Michael Andretti made contact with the rear of Marques' No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Mercedes, causing Marques to run off course. Marques eventually finished 18th.

The PacWest Hollywood team struggled all weekend with the set up for Mauricio Gugelmin's Hollywood Mercedes. Shortly before the halfway point, "Big Mo" suffered a boost problem, and was forced to exit the race. Epson Bettenhausen Motorsports rookie Shigeaki Hattori retired on lap 10 due to illness.

The FedEx Championship Series moves to Cleveland for the Medic Drug Grand Prix at Burke Lakefront Airport on June 27th.

Mercedes Quotes

Roberto Moreno, No. 18, PacWest Motorola Mercedes/Firestone (Seventh / 98 laps) "We had a very good car. The handling was excellent, and we played the game right. The Firestone tires were superb, and the Mercedes-Benz engine was very fuel efficient. It was a race to conserve fuel, and the team really helped me make it to the finish. Our telemetry went down at about lap 35, and I had to constantly relay the fuel readings to the guys in the pits. Teamwork was the key to our great effort. My engineers and crew called the right shots."

Patrick Carpentier, No. 33, Player's/Forsythe Mercedes/Firestone (Ninth / 98 laps) "It is definitely frustrating. We had a good race car today, if anything it was a little bit loose. But we just seem to find some bad luck somewhere, and end up with just a few points."

Greg Moore, No. 99, Player's/Forsythe Mercedes/Firestone (13th / 98 laps) "Saving fuel worked for us before, but it just didn't work for us today. We conserved fuel, and thought we could make it with two stops, but at the end, I had to stop. Pat made it, so we'll have to compare data and see what I had left in the tank. It's pretty disappointing not to get any points today."

Al Unser Jr., No. 2, Marlboro Team Penske Mercedes/Goodyear (16th / 98 laps) "Overall, we're very pleased with the performance of the car given this was the first time we've raced on a road course. The car did have a push throughout the weekend, so were going to continue to work on our set up as we learn more about the car. My Goodyear tires stayed with me all day, and Mercedes gave me the power I needed. I look forward to running the Lola in Cleveland next weekend."

Tarso Marques, No. 3, Marlboro Team Penske Mercedes/Goodyear (18th / 97 laps) "My Marlboro Mercedes Penske ran well all day, and the engine was strong and very consistent. At the start of the race, I passed some cars on the left going into the chicane and then was bumped by Tony (Kanaan). I spun, which put me back into 24th position, down one lap. I was able to get my lap back when the yellow flag came out on lap 58. On lap 63, I was going into the chicane at the start of the back straight when I got hit from behind by Michael's (Andretti) car, which sent me off course and down a lap. It's a shame because we were running strong at that point, with times as fast as the leaders."

Mauricio Gugelmin, No. 17, PacWest Hollywood Mercedes/Firestone (25th / 42 laps) "The balance of the car was pretty good. It had a little bit of understeer, but it was nothing drastic. I was driving cleanly, conserving fuel and pushing as hard as I could. I simply lost boost pressure, but we don't know why. The temperature was getting high, which could be indicative of a loose line. It may have been present all weekend, because we were never quick on the straightaways."

Shigeaki Hattori, No. 16, Epson Bettenhausen Motorsport Mercedes/Goodyear (/10 laps) (from Joe Ward, team manager) "We knew that Shigeaki wasn't feeling well today, but we wanted to start the race and see what happened. There was nothing wrong with the car, but he just didn't feel well enough to proceed. The good news is that he was smart about it and pulled out before he got in the way of the other competitors."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Shigeaki Hattori , Gil de Ferran , Tarso Marques , Roberto Moreno , Patrick Carpentier , Tony Kanaan , Mauricio Gugelmin , Mark Blundell , Greg Moore , Joe Ward
Teams Team Penske