CHAMPCAR/CART: Team Penske Pit Notes 2000-10-02

GIL DE FERRAN EXTENDS HIS LEAD IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP At this weekend's Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston, Gil de Ferran extended his first place position in the FedEx Championship Series Point Standings to 19 points over second-place Paul...

GIL DE FERRAN EXTENDS HIS LEAD IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP

At this weekend's Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston, Gil de Ferran extended his first place position in the FedEx Championship Series Point Standings to 19 points over second-place Paul Tracy. De Ferran scored a total of 16 points (out of a possible 22) by finishing third (14 points); starting from the pole (one point); and leading most laps (one point). De Ferran led the race through the downtown streets of Houston for 69 laps (out of 100), relinquishing his lead on lap 75 when he had to come in for a final "splash and go" pit stop. He has now led eight of the 18 races this season for a total of 263 laps.

His third place finish marks his sixth podium of the season and his fourth podium appearance in the last seven races. His pole on Saturday was his fourth pole of the 2000 season bringing his career total to 10 and marking his eighth front row appearance this year. De Ferran, who has led the FedEx Series Championship since his second place finish at Monterey, has scored points in 14 of the 18 races run this season. It is the first time in his six-year CART career that he has led the Championship.

Marlboro Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves added 10 points to his Championship bid with a fifth place finish, marking his sixth top-five finish of the season and his tenth points-paying race. Currently in eighth position in the point standings (tied with Jimmy Vasser), Castroneves is still "alive" in the battle for the FedEx Series Championship. With just two races to go, there are nine drivers still in contention for the Championship.

DE FERRAN ON HOUSTON

"We had a great race today. It would've been nice to win but we'll take third and the extra points. The Marlboro car was very good all weekend. Early in the race we were really pushing hard and trying to stretch our lead but the car was a little loose. Unfortunately our fuel mileage wasn't as good as some of the other guys so we had to pit early for fuel. But my crew did a fantastic stop (12.06 sec.) and we were able to get back out and maintain our lead. After the stop the car was really fantastic and we were able to go flat out to stretch our lead, we were using the same fuel strategy as Portland. We really ran 100% all day - it was like running qualifying for 100 laps. We had to come in for a splash and go at the end and we went back out in third. We were in good shape and ready to attack the first two cars (#12 and #1) because we knew they had to conserve fuel. But then it went yellow again and we knew they were going to make it to the end. The last few laps were really quite tense because Juan (Montoya) slowed down and Paul (Tracy) was catching up and I was doing all I could not to be the meat in the sandwich. But it was great racing and everyone was driving very well and very fast.

It's great to be heading to Australia with a 19 point lead but there are still two races to go and we're going to keep racing the way we've been all year - staying focused and trying to get as many points as possible."

CASTRONEVES ON HOUSTON

"We had a top-three car today but things just didn't go our way. We had a problem on our pit stop (the Team had to recock the fuel valve) so we lost time in the pits which cost us about five spots on the track. I was trying to work my way back-up through the field but it was difficult because we were trying to save fuel and I got caught behind the back markers. I didn't want to make a mistake but at the same time I had to save fuel and not lose track position. The good news is that we were able to bring the Marlboro car home and put some points on the board."

ROGER PENSKE BECOMES NEW MEMBER OF LEGENDS IN RACING

Marlboro Team Penske owner, Roger Penske, along with Eddie Sachs, John Zink and Dan Prudhomme became the newest members of the Class of 2000 in Legends in Racing, the hall of fame of the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association. This year's balloting increased the number of individuals enshrined in Legends in Racing to 116. Elected in the Modern Era/Non-Driver Category, Penske was the only candidate of ten to exceed the 70% requirement needed to be elected.

ANOTHER WINNING MEARS

Marlboro Team Penske team advisor Rick Mears, celebrated nephew Casey's first Indy Lights victory on Sunday in Houston. The younger Mears, driving in his second year for Dorricott Racing, and third year in the Indy Light Series, scored his inaugural win on the downtown streets of Houston after starting from the pole and leading every lap of the 50 lap race. The win came after 47 starts and six second place finishes.

<pre> FEDEX CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES POINTS UPDATE

1.   Gil de Ferran              153
2.   Paul Tracy                 134
3.   Roberto Moreno             131 
4.   Michael Andretti           127 
5.   Adrian Fernandez           127
6.   Juan Montoya               122
7.   Kenny Brack                118
8.   Helio Castroneves          117
9.   Jimmy Vasser               117
10. Cristiano da Matta          100

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Adrian Fernandez , Roberto Moreno , Paul Tracy , Kenny Brack , Rick Mears , Roger Penske , Cristiano da Matta
Teams Team Penske