Budweiser/G.I. Joe's 200 -- Notebook Highlights BUDWEISER/G.I. JOE'S 200, PRESENTED BY TEXACO/HAVOLINE, NOTEBOOK Jimmy Vasser and Michael Andretti, who entered as the first- and third-ranked drivers in the PPG Cup points race, respectively,...
Budweiser/G.I. Joe's 200 -- Notebook Highlights
BUDWEISER/G.I. JOE'S 200, PRESENTED BY TEXACO/HAVOLINE, NOTEBOOK
Jimmy Vasser and Michael Andretti, who entered as the first- and third-ranked drivers in the PPG Cup points race, respectively, had their problems in Sunday's Budweiser/G.I. Joe's 200, presented by Texaco/Havoline, at the Portland International Raceway.
Vasser (Target Reynard Honda), who started third, was running second early in the race, but he spun out in Turn 8 on Lap 36 and fell back in the field. He was 17th with 23 laps remaining and then charged to a 13th-place finish, one slot out of the points positions. Vasser's point lead shrunk from 23 points to 11, 98-87, over Al Unser Jr. (Marlboro Penske Mercedes) after Sunday's race.
"Tough day. I guess I should have been more careful," Vasser said. "The rain started up in Turn 3 and just worked its way down the race track. When I spun, I was just going into the chicane [Turn 8], rolling off the throttle and it swapped ends on me. Other than that, the only problem I had was in the last corner. The car was loose coming off there all day long."
Andretti's woes started immediately as he incurred an ignition problem with the Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Lola Ford on the opening lap. He went down a lap and dropped to last in the 28-car field, but rallied to finish 11th and gain two PPG Cup points with his showing. Andretti remained third in the points with 73.
"I think we could have won or at least been right up there if we didn't have the trouble at the start. There was something loose in the back end, electrical I think. I lost almost two laps," said Andretti, who was seeking his third consecutive victory. "I got a couple of points, but I'm disappointed because we had a competitive car. I guess we are still in third place and Jimmy Vasser didn't get any points, so. …"
* SAY IT'S SO, JOE
Target/Chip Ganassi Racing may want to attend to making reservations for future NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana at the remaining PPG Indy Car World Series events. Montana, a team partner, has a perfect 1996 completion percentage as Target/Chip Ganassi Racing has managed to win all three times he has attended a race. Montana witnessed Vasser win at Miami and The Inaugural U.S. 500 and then watched rookie Alex Zanardi (Target Reynard Honda) win on Sunday.
* GOOD RIDDANCE
Bobby Rahal (Miller Reynard Mercedes) ended a decade-long streak in which he had struggled in the even years and flourished in the odd at Portland International Raceway. Rahal entered Sunday's race having never finished among the top 10 at PIR during an even year, but turned in a sixth-place finish after starting 18th. "We made a good charge in the rain, just like '93 [when he came from 12th to fourth]," Rahal said. "We stayed out on slicks instead of changing to rain tires. And we were as quick as anyone in the wet. The Goodyear tires were great in the damp."
* CHAMPIONSHIP RUN
Zanardi's victory moved Italy from sixth to fourth in the Nation's Cup with 34 points. The United States continues to lead with 168 points. Brazil is second with 130 and Canada third with 68. ... Zanardi (Target Reynard Honda) also helped Honda regain the lead in the Manufacturer's Cup. Honda, which lost the lead for the first time this season when Ford moved a point ahead after Detroit, took a five-point advantage over Ford, 145-140. Mercedes-Benz is third with 114. With the triumph, Reynard pushed its lead over Lola from two points to eight, 152-144. Penske is third at 87. ... Zanardi cut the lead of Greg Moore (Player's/Indeck Reynard Mercedes) in the Rookie of the Year race to seven points, 46-39. Eddie Lawson (Delco Electronics Lola Mercedes) is third with 26.