FRANCHITTI WINS HIS THIRD RACE OF THE SEASON AT THE TEXACO GRAND PRIX OF HOUSTON HOUSTON, Tex., (Oct. 4, 1998) - Team KOOL Green's Dario Franchitti won his third Champ Car race of the season, leading the field across the finish line as...
FRANCHITTI WINS HIS THIRD RACE OF THE SEASON AT THE TEXACO GRAND PRIX OF HOUSTON
HOUSTON, Tex., (Oct. 4, 1998) - Team KOOL Green's Dario Franchitti won his third Champ Car race of the season, leading the field across the finish line as lightening, thunder and heavy rain shortened the inaugural Texaco Grand Prix of Houston by 30 laps.
Originally scheduled for 100 laps, Franchitti's margin of victory over Alex Zanardi was 0.646 seconds in a race lasting 1:36:30.979. Honda swept all three spots on the podium for the first time ever, as rookie Tony Kanaan placed third for a second consecutive race.
Franchitti started second on the grid, but led all 70 laps in winning. Weather conditions forced the race into a single-file start on rain tires, but Franchitti beat pole winner Greg Moore to the first corner. Pit stops and team strategy were important factors in the race, as conditions went from wet to dry to wet again.
Accidents played a part in five of the six cautions in the race, but no yellow came out on lap 48 when Paul Tracy's KOOL car made contact with Franchitti. Second at the time, Tracy attempted to pass his teammate on the inside of Turn 5. He touched the rear of Franchitti's car and spun into the wall suffering irreparable suspension damage. However, Franchitti was able continue and win under the sixth caution of the day when heavy rain ended the race.
Franchitti, who earned his first career victory at Road America and won the very next race at Vancouver, now moves up to third in the overall standings with 143 points. He has closed the gap to just six points between himself and Jimmy Vasser, who is second with 148 points.
DARIO FRANCHITTI, #27 TEAM KOOL GREEN REYNARD/HONDA/FIRESTONE: (Started 2nd / Finished 1st ; Currently 3rd in the PPG Cup standings with 142 points)
"It was a very difficult day because of the conditions all the time. It was like an ice rink out there at the start. Then it dried out and became very grippy again, then back to an ice rink. Team KOOL Green called an excellent race for me, telling me when to pit for slicks and back to rain tires. Full marks to the team. We've scored a hat trick now with three wins. I hope they just keep coming because it's a great feeling."
BARRY GREEN, on Dario Franchitti's victory:
"Dario drove an excellent race under some of the most difficult conditions I've ever seen. It's a credit to all of Team KOOL Green for preparing a great car, calling a great race and giving Dario excellent pit stops. The team has been performing well all year and it was very frustrating when we couldn't get a win. But now we've got three wins and two more races to go. The team now has the confidence to keep on winning."
BARRY GREEN, on Paul Tracy:
"I was really gratified with the way Paul practiced and qualified this weekend. Quite frankly, Paul has done a good job for us all year. I'll sit down with him before the next race and we'll discuss what happened today."
PAUL TRACY, #26 TEAM KOOL GREEN REYNARD/HONDA/FIRESTONE: (Started 4th / DNF - 20th ; Currently 13th in the PPG Cup standings with 61 points)
"We had a really good weekend going. We qualified well and had a good race car. What happened with Dario and myself in the race was disappointing. I need to look at the tapes to understand what happened better. We'll sit down as a team and discuss this as a team."