CHAMPCAR/CART: Reporter's log Detroit race-day

By - David C. Schilke - Welcome to race day of the Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit at the Belle Isle street circuit. There could not be better weather for a race day. The temperatures are much lower than Friday and ...

By - David C. Schilke -

Welcome to race day of the Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit at the Belle Isle street circuit. There could not be better weather for a race day. The temperatures are much lower than Friday and Saturday and there is no threat of rain. This promises to be a great day of racing.

Morning warm up notes:

Tony Kanaan will not be able to run in today's race. after a crash in yesterday's qualifying. Kanaan suffered a mild concussion in yeaterday's qualifying crash. He will be able to race next week in Portland.

Six minutes into Sunday warm up and Jourdain brings out the red when he stalls on the course due to a fuel pick up problem.

Fittipaldi makes hard contact with the wall and debris flies everywhere at turn 11. The red flag is brought out to clean the mess 18 minuets into the session. Fittipaldi is uninjured.

At the end of the session Vasser has the fastest lap at 1:16.015 seconds, 111.104 mph. Second quickest in the warm up is Carpentier 111.001 mph and followed by de Matta in third 11.852 mph.

Race notes:

The weather could not be nicer as the drivers get strapped into their missiles on wheels and the command to start the engines is given.

The three front rows are: Helio Castroneves, Bruno Junqueira, Gil de Ferran, Dario Franchitti, Jimmy Vasser, and Patrick Carpentier.

Green flag waves at 2:05 p.m. and the Detroit Grand Prix is under way!

Helio leads into turn one. Carpentier jumps from sixth to fourth in the first turn!

On lap 4 there is a full course yellow caused by Zanardi and Jourdain at turn three. Jourdian tried to pass Zanardi on the inside and the cars made contact. They are sent spinning to the outside of three. Both drivers are okay but their day is over.

Michel Jourdain Jr.: "In the first couple of laps I got passed by Alex Tagliani and Paul Tracy. But on the third lap, I got back past Tracy. Zanardi was going pretty slowly and I was working to get around him as we went into that corner. I had my car on the inside line to the corner and I'm sure he saw me. But he turned across the front of me anyways and put us both out."

Paul Tracy and Max Papis both pit on the full course yellow and are now off the pit sequence.

The race goes back to green on lap 7.

Restart order is Castroneves, Junqueira, de Ferran, Carpentier and Franchitti.

On lap 19 Vasser passes Franchitti for fifth place. Franchitti gets the spot back from Vasser on the next lap.

Lap 27 report: Start of pit sequence

Brack has a slow stop and loses four positions - 15th to 19th .

Scott Dixon spins at turn 13, there is no impact and the race stays green as CART Safety Teams pull him off under a local yellow flag.

Junqueira slows on lap 30 and de Ferran and Carpentier pass him to take second and third respectively. Junqueira pits on lap 31 and is already out of the top five.

Bruno Junqueira: "Something with the transmission broke on the car. It's a shame that we had this problem today. The Toyota engine was very fast and I had a couple of opportunities to try and take the lead, but I wanted to be patient and wait for the right opportunity."

Tracy runs in second but is off sequence and must pit on lap 36.

Lap 37, Max Wilson, a rookie, slows on the front and pulls into the opening at turn 1. The corner workers help push him behind the wall and the track stays green. He had damage to his right rear suspension; Wilson brushed the wall between turns 2 and 3 earlier in the race.

By lap 40 the stops are completed. The order is: Castroneves, Carpentier, de Ferran, Franchitti and Moreno.

Full Course yellow comes out on lap 41 and many incidents occur:

Minassian spins at turn 7 near the tire wall. CART Safety gets him restarted a lap later.

Tagliani hits the tire wall hard at turn 12 because of a broken brake pedal. Tag is fine but out of the race.

Takagi pulls off at turn 3 with mechanical problems and retires from the race.

All top 17 besides Tracy pit on lap 41 under the yellow. All think they can go to the end.

Junqueria spins on lap 42 on the backstretch and retires from the race.

Vasser hits the wall between turns 2 and 3 when coming out of the pits, his day is over due to the damage. "I was just scrubbing my tires and I lost it," says Vasser.

Race is green again on lap 46. Helio, Carpentier and Franchitti make out the top three.

Servia hits at 12 and brings out the yellow on lap 57. Servia is uninjured but the car is retired.

Green Flag waves on lap 60. The running order of the top three is Helio, Carpentier, Franchitti and Moreno.

Race goes yellow again for Brian Herta on lap 63. Herta makes hard contact with the wall at 12, Herta is fine but the car is not raceable. Turn 12 starting to look like a parking lot.

Green fag flies on lap 65. Helio pulls out a big lead. Coming into turn three Franchitti goes to the inside of Carpentier and out brakes him for the pass. Carpentier's rear end becomes lose. Moreno follows Franchitti though turn 3. Moreno and Carpentier make contact coming out of the 3 and Moreno's cars jumps up in the air from the hit. Moreno makes the pass and Carpentier continues to lose positions until the backstretch. He falls into seventh place.

Patrick Carpentier's comments on the pass: "On the restarts, I had no tire grip. The previous time, I was able to hold off Dario, but on the last one, I lost my momentum. I knew at that point that I was in deep trouble. I tried to save my position but as soon as Dario passed me, Roberto was next to me on the racing line and I was still spinning my wheels. I was protecting my position when we banged wheels, then lost another couple of spots and slid down the leader board."

White flag: the order is Castroneves, Franchitti, Moreno, Andretti and Tracy.

Tracy slows and runs out of gas on the straight after turn 2.

Checkered flag is presented to Helio Castroneves! In second is Dario Franchitti and third is a very exuberant Roberto Moreno. Four goes to Michael Andretti and Christian Fittipaldi round out the top five. Helio's margin of victory is .702 seconds over Dario.

Race stats.

Helio's average speed was 89.008 mph. It took the Brazilian 1 hour 53 minuets and 51.815 seconds to win. Helio lead every lap. There were four yellows today taking a total of 13 laps. 13 cars were running at the end of the race.

This is Helio's second win the season and fifth in his career. In both wins this year Helio has lead every lap. Helio is now the first driver to win the Detroit Grand Prix back-to-back.

This is Honda's fourth consecutive win of the race at Belle Isle.

Franchitti's best finish this season came today. Before his second place at Detroit his previous best was sixth at long beach. Dario had not been on the podium at Detroit since his win here in 1999. Its has been his last win in his career and the last time he shared the podium with his friend Greg Moore. Greg Moore was killed in a race at Fontana in 1999. "It brings back good memories, says Dario. "I was definitely thinking that the last time I was up here was with Greg."

This is also the best finish of the season for Roberto Moreno. Previous best finish was tenth place at Japan. "I just don't believe how happy I am to have this result here", Moreno explains. "It's been a tough year this year."

The race on Belle Isle was announced last year as the final year for the Detroit Grand Prix and has been promoted by the media as not only the 20th Anniversary of the Detroit Grand Prix but also has the final race. However, a statement was released by CART, IMG and Mayor Dennis Archer that negotiations regarding the future of the Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit are still ongoing. The future of this event is still up-in-the air and will provide details as they become known.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Bruno Junqueira , Max Papis , Roberto Moreno , Patrick Carpentier , Christian Fittipaldi , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Max Wilson , Greg Moore , Brian Herta , Michel Jourdain