TORONTO (July 16, 2000) - Michael Andretti of Newman/Haas Racing, CART's all-time leader in career wins, moved into sole possession of third in all-time Champ Car history courtesy of his sixth career victory at the 15th Molson Indy before a ...
TORONTO (July 16, 2000) - Michael Andretti of Newman/Haas Racing, CART's all-time leader in career wins, moved into sole possession of third in all-time Champ Car history courtesy of his sixth career victory at the 15th Molson Indy before a record-setting crowd of 72,976 at Exhibition Place.
The win was the 40th of Andretti's illustrious career and snapped a tie with Al Unser for third place on the all-time Champ Car career list (1909-current). The all-time record is held by A.J. Foyt with 67 and he is followed by Mario Andretti with 52.
Andretti (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola) also registered the sixth win of his career at Toronto following triumphs in 1989, '91, '92, '94 and '95. The six career wins are the most for Andretti at any CART venue, with the latest breaking a tie with his five victories at The Milwaukee Mile.
Andretti rolled to a comfortable 6.527-second win over runner-up Adrian Fernandez of Patrick Racing while Scarborough, Ontario native Paul Tracy of Team KOOL Green delighted the locals by finishing third.
The performance was pivotal in his chase for his second series championship - his title came in 1991 - as he closed the gap on series leader Roberto Moreno (Visteon Ford Reynard) from 22 points to two as the series reached the midway point of the 20-race season. Moreno, held scoreless after incurring mechanical problems late in the 112-lap event, holds a 90-88 advantage heading into next week's Michigan 500 Presented by Toyota at Michigan Speedway.
Andretti averaged 98.248 miles per hour for 112 laps of the 1.755-mile temporary street circuit. He led 34 laps and took the lead for good on Lap 80 when leader Roberto Moreno pitted just after Andretti had passed then-second-place Fernandez heading into Turn 3. He went on to his second win of the season, following a previous victory at Japan. This year becomes his first with multiple victories since 1996, when he recorded five wins.
Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford Reynard) scored his second podium finish of the season and first since a victory at Rio de Janeiro. He also logged his fifth top-nine performance in his past six appearances at Toronto, including a victory in 1996.
By finishing third, Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard) extended a run which has seen him finish seventh or better in nine career starts at Toronto. Like Andretti and Fernandez, he is a former winner at Toronto, in 1993.
Rounding out the top five were Cristiano da Matta (Pioneer/MCI WorldCom Toyota Reynard) of PPI Motorsports, who finished fourth and led a race-high 73 laps, and Canadian rookie Alex Tagliani (Player's Forsythe Racing Team Ford Reynard) of Player's Forsythe Racing, who finished fifth. Da Matta recorded his third consecutive top-five finish and fifth of the season, highlighted by his first career podium result of third at Cleveland. The 73 laps were the first he has led in his two-year career. Tagliani's finish was his best since a career-high fourth at Long Beach.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
MICHAEL ANDRETTI, Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola: "It was just perfect timing to make up some ground on [points leader] Roberto [Moreno]. He had some problems and you need to make up some ground when that happens. I think I said yesterday that [the races at] Michigan and Fontana [California] are going to be the key to the championship. The guy who is the best there is going to have a good shot at the championship. As for today, I was trying to keep pressure on [polesitter] Helio [Castroneves] in the early part of the race. I was trying to fill his mirrors and get him to make a mistake, and he made a few small ones, but not enough for me to get around him. At that point, I decided I'd count on my guys in the pits and we did it. Then I did the same thing with Mr. [Cristiano] da Matta. I was trying to fill his mirrors and force a mistake. He made a few small ones, but not enough to do anything and then he pitted before me. That had to be my fastest lap of the race. I was running a qualifying lap right before my stop. I knew when I was racing Adrian, he would race me clean and I was able to get around him going into Turn 3. From there, it was just a matter of trying not to make a mistake, and I was able to do it. I'm really happy to get my 40th win here in Toronto, the fans here are so great."
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ, Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford Reynard: "For us, it was a good race. We gained two positions at the start when [Juan] Montoya and [Dario] Franchitti got together, and I got by [Gil] de Ferran on the restart. Then, I saw Paul coming and I said 'Here we go again.' He did the same thing at Cleveland. I really had to concentrate. I had kind of a big moment with Oriol Servia, and after that, there were really no yellows. My brakes started to fade toward the end and I had to be careful not to completely kill them before the end of the race. We made up a lot of positions on fuel. After the last stop, I got out ahead of Michael, but he had more temperature in his tires and he was able to get past. But it was a great result for Patrick Racing today."
PAUL TRACY, KOOL Honda Reynard: "It was an up and down weekend with the weather and various problems we had. I'm very happy with the way things turned out. It was almost disastrous at the start. I hit the wall and bent the suspension, and I had a problem with the right front tire. It would build up too much pressure, so I had to be really careful. It was a handful all day, and I'm glad we were able to come home in third. [On paying tribute to Greg Moore with his helmet design this weekend] "It's not too emotional. I mean, we're all sad about what happened, but now it's time to pay tribute to Greg's life. It was an honor wearing his helmet today; I think it was a little push from behind today. I want to thank Ric [Moore, Greg's father], his wife, and his whole family for letting me do this here this weekend. We've been able to do some really great things for the Greg Moore Foundation."
* Michael Andretti's (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola) victory was his first FedEx Championship Series triumph on a road or street course since 1996 at Vancouver. It was also Lola's first on a road or street course since that same event.
* Andretti led 34 laps, extending his CART-leading career total to 6,194, almost twice the total of second-place Rick Mears (3,286).
* The FedEx Championship Series points race tightened up considerably after leader Roberto Moreno (Visteon Ford Reynard) went scoreless Sunday. Andretti closed to 90-88 while Gil de Ferran (Marlboro Honda Reynard) drew to third place with 75 after finishing sixth. Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard) stands fourth at 73 points, followed by rookie Kenny Brack (Shell Ford Reynard) with 66. Brack also holds a 66-36 lead over Alex Tagliani (Player's Forsythe Racing Team Ford Reynard) in the Jim Trueman Rookie of the Year standings.
* Ford has now won back-to-back FedEx Championship Series events on road or street courses, the first time that has happened since 1996, when Andretti won consecutively at Road America and Vancouver. Ford also holds a 178-153 lead over Honda in the CART Manufacturer's Championship.
* Runner-up Adrian Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford Reynard) has finished among the top five drivers in five of his past six appearances at Toronto, topped by his first career FedEx Championship Series victory in 1996. He also finished seventh in 1995, ninth in '98, and sixth in '99.
* Tracy's third-place finish was his seventh top-10 at Toronto in nine career starts. In addition to his victory in 1993, the run includes finishes of fifth in 1994, eighth in '95 and '96, 10th in '97 and second last year.
* Cristiano da Matta (Pioneer/MCI WorldCom Toyota Reynard) led the first 73 laps, only four shy of the entire laps led total for Toyota-powered drivers in road or street course events (77) in Toyota's previous 4 ½ seasons of FedEx Championship Series competition.
* Sunday's top five finishers are all graduates of CART's Ladder System of driver development, which encompasses the Dayton Indy Lights Championship and Toyota Atlantic Championship. Andretti and fifth-place Tagliani are products of the Atlantic series while Fernandez, Tracy and da Matta apprenticed in Indy Lights before moving up to Champ Cars.
* Tagliani's fifth-place effort extended a run which has seen a FedEx Championship Series rookie finish sixth or better in each of five road course events this season. Tagliani began the streak by finishing fourth at Long Beach and was followed by Oriol Servia (Telefonica Toyota Reynard), who finished third at Detroit, and Brack, who finished sixth at Portland and second at Cleveland, respectively.
* With the departure of polesitter Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard) after completing 45 laps, Andretti remains the only driver in 15 FedEx Championship Series events at Toronto to have won from the pole. He accomplished the feat in 1991 and went on to the FedEx Championship Series championship. The last time the polesitter even completed the event was in 1995 when eventual series champion Jacques Villeneuve finished third.
* Team Rahal co-owner David Letterman, host of CBS-TV's The Late Show with David Letterman, attended Sunday's Molson Indy, making his first appearance of the season following heart surgery earlier this year.
* The three-day Molson Indy attendance of 168,353 established a record for the 15 years of the event.
The FedEx Championship Series continues with its fifth event in six weeks, the Michigan 500 Presented by Toyota, Sunday, July 23, at Michigan Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich.