LONG BEACH, Calif., April 6 - Team KOOL Green's Dario Franchitti chased Alex Zanardi across the finish line, just 2.917 seconds behind the Italian who successfully defended last year's win at the Grand Prix of Long Beach. Franchitti started...
LONG BEACH, Calif., April 6 - Team KOOL Green's Dario Franchitti chased Alex Zanardi across the finish line, just 2.917 seconds behind the Italian who successfully defended last year's win at the Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Franchitti started from the eighth spot on the grid, but had moved up a couple of positions 25 laps into the race. At one point, Franchitti lost his clutch which put his race in jeopardy. However, the malfunction corrected itself before his second pit s top on lap 54. Despite losing both his mirrors, Franchitti continued to move up through the field in the second half of the race.
The last 25 laps saw numerous lead changes as different fuel strategies played an important role in the race. In fact, Franchitti inherited the lead on lap 94 when Bryan Herta dove into the pits for fuel. His lead lasted only two laps, as the he too nee ded one more splash of fuel to finish.
After all cars on the lead lap completed their final stops, the race order had Herta in the lead followed by Franchitti and Zanardi. With four laps to go, Zanardi passed Franchitti and with two to go the Italian passed Herta for the lead. Franchitti als o took advantage of Herta, moving into second.
Franchitti's teammate, Paul Tracy, was not as fortunate. Tracy's race ended after only 19 laps when Chrisitian Fittipaldi made contact with him, sending him into a tire wall.
After three races, Adrian Fernandez sits atop the point standings with 41, followed by Greg Moore with 37 and Zanardi with 34. Franchitti earned 16 points for today's runner-up performance and moved into fourth place overall with a total of 25. It was t he third consecutive race in which he has scored points.
Paul Tracy, #26 Team KOOL Green: "I went wide on the previous corner and he (Fittipaldi) tried to get a run on me. I had the inside line and he just cut into me and we locked wheels, sending me flying. There is no way to pass right there. Up 'til then the Team KOOL Green car was good. I was just pacing myself and trying to save fuel."
Dario Franchitti, #27 Team KOOL Green: "What a race! Zanardi passed Herta which made him go wide and gave me the opportunity to go into second. I'm so happy. The car was fantastic. The guys did a great job on the stops. Both of my mirrors fell off so the Team KOOL Green crew was keeping m e posted on what was happening behind me. I didn't touch anybody out there. I did lose the clutch stopping at the hairpin when it got congested. I was fortunate to get it back (lap 42) before my second pit stop."