CHAMPCAR/CART: Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Sunday track notes

Good Morning from Long Beach, California for Race Day in Southern California! Today's running of the second race of the 2000 season, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach takes the Green Flag at 1 p.m. The weather is cooler today than it has been...

Good Morning from Long Beach, California for Race Day in Southern California! Today's running of the second race of the 2000 season, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach takes the Green Flag at 1 p.m. The weather is cooler today than it has been all weekend, with a high cloud cover slipping in from the Northwest on light Pacific breezes, but it is expected to be dry and in the low-seventies in temperatures be the start of the race.

Yesterday's CART drivers meeting presented a humorous occasion and a passing of a dubious torch. With permission from CART Chief Steward J. KIRK RUSSELL, the CART veteran formerly known as "Super Sub", ROBERTO MORENO, stood up before the assembled drivers and asked fellow drivers BRYAN HERTA and MEMO GIDLEY to join him on the makeshift stage. Both HERTA and GIDLEY are filling in for injured drivers SHINJI NAKANO and PATRICK CARPENTIER respectively in this weekend's race. MORENO then stated that he was glad to give away the moniker Super Sub, earned from the last few years as a substitute driver in the FedEx Championship Series. MORENO is now the full-time pilot in the Visteon/ Patrick Racing Ford Reynard and has repeatedly made it clear he did not relish the nickname in the press. With that said, MORENO pulled a large submarine sandwich from a bag, deftly pre-cut in half, and presented each piece to the two substitute drivers in this weekend's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

The weekend's CART Pace Car will be driven by Allison McKeever. McKeever is currently in her third year on the Pace Car team and paced last year's Indy Lights race at California Speedway and the Trans-Am race here at Long Beach. McKeever is also currently a driving instructor for Danny McKeever's Fast Lane Racing School at Willow Springs Raceway, the Official Racing School for Toyota Motorsports.

GREEN FLAG waves at 9 a.m. to start the final practice session of the weekend. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 66 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 62 degrees F. at the start of the session. At 9:07 a.m., CART course observers around the track report that #11

FITTIPALDI's car is bottoming, evidenced by a shower of sparks from the car at speed on course. At 9:10 a.m., ten minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #27

FRANCHITTI with a lap of 98.821 mph (1:11.693), followed by #2X de FERRAN (98.204 mph; 1:12.144).

At 9:11 a.m., #18 BLUNDELL slides into the runoff at Turn 9, but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 9:12 a.m., #17 GUGELMIN spins into the run-off at Turn 8. CART safety workers quickly get the car restarted and GUGELMIN continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 9:13 a.m., CART course observers report a fluid spray from the rear of the car driven by #19 KUROSAWA while the car is at speed around the course.

At 9:14 a.m., #1 MONTOYA slides into the run-off at Turn 5. The driver keeps the car running but the transmission doesn't seem to engage and CART safety workers nor the driver can get the car to move.

RED FLAG waves at 9:17 a.m. to allow CART safety workers to push #1 MONTOYA to his Pit Area.

At 9:20 a.m., 20 minutes into the session and under the Red Flag, the fastest driver is #11 FITTIPALDI with a lap of 101.243 mph (1:09.978), followed by #3 CASTRO-NEVES (101.148 mph; 1:10.044) and #16 JOURDAIN Jr. (101.063 mph; 1:10.103).

GREEN FLAG waves at 9:21 a.m. to resume the session.

BLACK FLAG is shown at 9:23 a.m. to #8X BRACK for a Pit Road speed violation. BRACK subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag drive-thru penalty.

RED FLAG waves at 9:24 a.m. after #19 KUROSAWA stalls at Turn 4 with a large plume of smoke showing at the rear of the car. CART safety workers quickly put out a small fire as the driver exits the car under his own power.

GREEN FLAG waves at 9:28 a.m. to resume the session.

BLACK FLAG is shown at 9:29 a.m. to #34 SALLES for a Pit Road speed violation. SALLES subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag drive-thru penalty.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 9:30 a.m. to end the final practice session of the weekend with the fastest driver #11 FITTIPALDI with a lap of 101.243 mph (1:09.978), followed by #3 CASTRO-NEVES (101.148 mph; 1:10.044) and #16 JOURDAIN Jr. (101.063 mph; 1:10.103). FedEx Championship Series drivers introduced 25 different cars to the track in this morning's session with secondary cars utilized by #2X de FERRAN, #96X SERVIA, #8X BRACK, and #19X KUROSAWA. CART drivers logged a total of 130 laps during this morning's session.

In the downtime between the final practice session and the start of today's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, it may be a good time to review the Long Beach race from the past few years in a statistical manner, using 1995 to 1999 as a modern-era basis. The winner has come from an average start postion of fifth. The second place finisher has come from an average start postion of 5.8. The third place finisher has an average start of 4.8. The average margin of victory has been 7.22 seconds but this stat has polluted by a 23.125 second winning margin from 1995. The race has been featuring tighter margins of victory through the late nineties as 1996 was 3.447 seconds, 1997 was 3.82 seconds, 1998 was 2.917 seconds, and 1999 was 2.805 seconds. The first caution should appear within the first 16 laps, yet two races featured Yellow Flag on the first lap: 1995 and 1998. There will probably be 20 laps run under the Yellow, (exact average is 20.6). The Yellow will fly four to five times, exact average is 4.8. Finally you can count on 17 cars running at the end, and this is an amazingly consistent stat: 1995 had 18, 1996 had 16, 1997 had 16, 1998 had 18, and 1999 had 17.

At 12:57 p.m., the command "Gentlemen, Start Your Engines" is given by Honorary Starter, John Elway.

At 12:59 p.m., the CART Pace car begins to roll for the first of 3 pace laps with the field of 25 cars in tow.

GREEN FLAG waves at 1:09 p.m. to start the 82-lap, 161.376-mile Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 101 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 67 degrees F. at the start of the session. #2 de FERRAN grabs a quick lead as the field pours into Turn 1 single file.

On Lap 1, #2 de FERRAN leads by .768 seconds over #12 VASSER and #1 MONTOYA, #40 FERNANDEZ, and #5 HERTA. #32 GIDLEY passes #3 CASTRO-NEVES to take over ninth place.

On Lap 2, #20 MORENO passes #7 PAPIS to take over sixth place.

On Lap 5, the running order is #2 de FERRAN leading by 1.447 seconds over #12 VASSER and #1 MONTOYA, #40 FERNANDEZ, and #5 HERTA.

On Lap 6, #27 FRANCHITTI slides into the run-off at Turn 1 and continues on course from the Turn 5 re-entry point without apparent damage to the car.

On Lap 10, the running order is #2 de FERRAN leading by 2.035 seconds over #12 VASSER, #1 MONTOYA, #40 FERNANDEZ, and #5 HERTA.

YELLOW FLAG waves on Lap 10 as the frontrunners pour through Turn 11 to start Lap 11. #40 FERNANDEZ makes contact with the outside wall at Turn 11, nose-first. #97 da MATTA immediately slows behind the incident and pulls to Pit Road. #40 FERNANDEZ retires due to contact and #97 da MATTA retires due to a mechanical problem.

Positions 15th and back pit under this Yellow Flag with little left to loose in track position. #6 ANDRETTI and #26 TRACY make nose-to-tail contact exiting the pits but both drivers continue on course without apparent damage to the cars.

GREEN FLAG waves on Lap 15 to restart the race. It is immediately replaced with the YELLOW FLAG as #17 GUGELMIN spins after being touched by #96 SERVIA at the bottom of the Turn 11 hairpin. GUGELMIN stalls backwards in the groove and #34 SALLES stalls just behind him as the rest of the field drive by.

GREEN FLAG waves on Lap 17 to resume the race with #2 de FERRAN leading by .601 seconds over #12 VASSER, followed by #1 MONTOYA, #20 MORENO, and #5 de FERRAN.

On Lap 19, #20 MORENO passes #1 MONTOYA and then passes #12 VASSER at Turn 8 to jump from fourth to second.

Also on Lap 19, #26 TRACY and #8 BRACK brush the wall at Turn 11 but continue on course without apparent damage to the car.

On Lap 20, the running order is #2 de FERRAN leading by 1.287 seconds, followed by #20 MORENO, #12 VASSER, #1 MONTOYA, and #5 HERTA.

On Lap 21, #5 HERTA passes #1 MONTOYA to take over fourth place. #8 BRACK and #32 GIDLEY pass MONTOYA to take over fifth and sixth, dropping MONTOYA to seventh.

On Lap 24, #16 JOURDAIN Jr. makes contact with the right rear of #27 FRANCHITTI at Turn 3. FRANCHITTI develops a flat right rear tire and pulls off course in the run-off at Turn 5. FRANCHITTI subsequently retires from the race due to contact. JOURDAIN Jr. continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

On Lap 27, #1 MONTOYA pits while running in seventh place. MONTOYA returns to the race in 16th place, 35.629 seconds behind the leaders.

On Lap 30, the running order is #2 de FERRAN leading by 3.281 seconds over #20 MORENO, followed by #12 VASSER, #5 de FERRAN, and #8 BRACK.

On Lap 31, #2 de FERRAN pits and hands the lead over to #20 MORENO, and returns to the race in 18th position.

On Lap 33, #12 VASSER, #8 BRACK, and #33 TAGLIANI pit. VASSER returns to the race in 11th, and #8 BRACK returns in 13th.

On Lap 34, first-place #20 MORENO and second-place #5 HERTA both pit. #32 GIDLEY takes over the lead for the first time in his Champ Car career. MORENO returns in ninth and HERTA in 12th.

On Lap 35, #32 GIDLEY pits and hands the lead to #6 ANDRETTI. ANDRETTI, TRACY, and FITTIPALDI are out of Pit sequence with the leaders and they are not due into the pits until around Lap 50.

On Lap 36, #1 MONTOYA slides into the run-off at Turn 1 and re-enters the race at Turn 5. MONTOYA was 18th at the time.

On Lap 38, #25 GARCIA Jr. slides into the run-off at Turn 9 but continues on course.

On Lap 39, #32 GIDLEY dramatically slows at Turn 6 and pulls off course at Turn 8 with smoke appearing at the rear of the car. GIDLEY subsequently retires from the race.

On Lap 40, the running order is #6 ANDRETTI leading, followed by #11 FITTIPALDI, #96 SERVIA, #19 KUROSAWA, and #26 TRACY.

YELLOW FLAG waves on Lap 40 after #7 PAPIS spins backwards into the tire barrier, stalling in the middle of the track. The driver is uninjured in the incident but the car is out of the race due to contact.

GREEN FLAG waves on Lap 43 to resume the race with #6 ANDRETTI leading, followed by #11 FITTIPALDI, #20 MORENO, #12 VASSER, and #2 de FERRAN.

BLACK FLAG is shown on Lap 43 to #3 CASTRO-NEVES for a Pit Road speed violation. CASTRO-NEVES subsequently pits to comply with the Black Flag drive-thru penalty.

On Lap 45, #1 MONTOYA slides into the run-off at Turn 9 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

On Lap 46, #5 HERTA slides into the run-off at Turn 1 but spins the car around and re-enters the race, losing six spots from sixth to 12th.

On Lap 48, #6 ANDRETTI and #11 FITTIPALDI pit and #20 MORENO takes the lead. While in his Pit Box, a fire breaks out at the rear of FITTIPALDI's car. The driver quickly exits the car while the crew and CART safety workers extinguish the fire. FITTIPALDI retires from the race.

On Lap 50, the running order is #20 MORENO leading by 2.996 seconds over #12 VASSER, followed by #2 de FERRAN, #26 TRACY, and #18 BLUNDELL.

YELLOW FLAG waves on Lap 53 after #8 BRACK and #55 KANAAN make side-to-side contact entering Turn 1. BRACK makes hard contact against the tire barrier as KANAAN slides to a stop. BRACK and KANAAN retire from the race due to contact.

On Lap 54, all of the leaders pit and #19 KUROSAWA takes over the lead. This is the first time that a Japanese driver has ever led a CART-sanctioned race.

GREEN FLAG waves on Lap 58 to resume the race. KUROSAWA leads by 1.301 seconds over #20 MORENO.

On Lap 59, #26 TRACY passes #20 MORENO at Turn 5. MORENO continues to be passed on Lap 59, falling all the way to 11th by the end of the lap.

Also on Lap 59, #96 SERVIA and #5 HERTA make nose-to-tail contact at Turn 5 but both cars continue on course without apparent damage to the car.

On Lap 60, the running order is #19 KUROSAWA leading by .989 seconds over #26 TRACY, followed by#3 CASTRO-NEVES, #12 VASSER, and #33 TAGLIANI.

On Lap 61, #6 ANDRETTI and #18 BLUNDELL make side-to-side contact at Turn 11. ANDRETTI takes over seventh, dropping BLUNDELL back to tenth. Both cars continue on course without apparent damage to the car.

On Lap 62, #26 TRACY passes #19 KUROSAWA to take over the lead at Turn 1. #3 CASTRO-NEVES passes KUROSAWA at Turn 9 to take second.

On Lap 64, #12 VASSER passes #19 KUROSAWA at Turn 11 to take third. #2 de FERRAN passes #19 KUROSAWA at Turn 11 to take over fourth.

YELLOW FLAG waves on Lap 66 after #10 FONTANA attempts a pass of #19 KUROSAWA going into Turn 1. FONTANA loses control and swaps ends before making contact against the tire barrier at Turn 1. KUROSAWA slides into the Turn 1 run-off. FONTANA retires from the race due to contact and KUROSAWA continues on course without apparent damage to the car. FONTANA exits the car under his own power and is uninjured in the incident.

GREEN FLAG waves on Lap 70 with #26 TRACY leading #3 CASTRO-NEVES by .470 seconds, followed by #12 VASSER, #33 TAGLIANI, and #6 ANDRETTI.

On Lap 74, #6 ANDRETTI pulls off course on the backstretch with fire showing at the rear of the car. ANDRETTI subsequently retires from the race due to a mechanical problem.

YELLOW FLAG waves on Lap 76 after #16 JOURDAIN JR. spins exiting Turn 11. #19 KUROSAWA is also involved, breaking a right rear wheel in the process. KUROSAWA subsequently retires from the race due to contact.

GREEN FLAG waves on Lap 78 to resume the race.

On Lap 80, the running order is #26 TRACY, leading by .755 seconds over #3 CASTRO-NEVES, followed by #12 VASSER (1.018 seconds behind the leader), #33 TAGLIANI, and #96 SERVIA.

WHITE FLAG waves on Lap 81 with #26 TRACY leading by 1.225 seconds over #3 CASTRO-NEVES.

CHECKERED FLAG waves on Lap 82 for the winner of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, PAUL TRACY comes home 3.191 seconds ahead of second place HELIO CASTRO-NEVES. Third place goes to #12 JIMMY VASSER, fourth to #33 ALEXANDRE TAGLIANI, and fifth place goes to BRYAN HERTA, who passed #96 SERVIA to take the position on the last lap.

Today's race featured six drivers leading laps, with de FERRAN leading the most laps with 30, followed by TRACY leading 21, ANDRETTI with 13, MORENO with 10, KUROSAWA with seven, and GIDLEY leading one. TRACY averaged 82.626 mph in his win, taking 1 hour, 57 minutes, and 11.132 seconds to log the win. There were 12 cars running at the end with nine cars on the lead lap. The Yellow Flag flew six times for a total of 20 laps.

PAUL TRACY wins his first race of the season and the 16th of his career with his victory today. TRACY won from 17th on the grid, the second-farthest back any winner has ever started in a CART-sanctioned street/road course. Al Unser Jr. won after starting 19th in the Miami Grand Prix in 1986. This is also TRACY's second victory at Long Beach, his other coming in 1993, which was the first of his CART career. TRACY now leads the chase for the Championship with 36 points. The last time that TRACY led the Championship was Round 11 at Toronto in 1997.

HELIO CASTRO-NEVES finishes second in today's race, matching his career-best finish; a second at both Milwaukee in 1998 and St. Louis in 1999. This is also the career-best finish on a road/street course. CASTRO-NEVES previously finished seventh at Detroit and Mid-Ohio last year.

JIMMY VASSER finishes third in today Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. This is VASSER's sixth top ten finish at Long Beach in nine career starts. VASSER's third place finish represents Toyota's best finish ever in CART competition. Toyota previously had fourth place finishes at Nazareth in 1999 and Homestead in 2000.

The top six finishers today are all products of the CART Ladder System. TRACY, CASTRO-NEVES, HERTA, and SERVIA are all products of the Indy Lights, while TAGLIANI and VASSER came to the Champ Cars by way of Toyota Atlantics.

Quotes from the top three finishers follow:

PAUL TRACY: "Really, with this new car we haven't been able to get a good handle on the setup. Both (teammate) Dario (Franchitti) and I really struggled all weekend but we never gave up. We've really got to give credit to (engineer) Steve Challis. He worked with Greg (Moore) last year. We tried all different setups and we couldn't get one to right so we went into Greg's notebook and put one of his setups on the car and it worked. I've got to give a lot of credit to Steve. I'm happy to be leading the championship, that's our goal this year. Some guys might give up if things are tough but this team doesn't do that. Early on, I had a big train of cars in front of me and there's not much you're going to do. That's when I rely on my guys. I know I've got a great crew and I'm not going to lose positions. It's certainly the furthest back I've ever come from to win a race. I'm just so proud of my crew. When you get the job done and win the race, it's a whole team thing, not just one individual."

HELIO CASTRO-NEVES: "I tell you, I couldn't control my emotions. We need to remember someone very special, Greg Moore. I wish we could share this with him today. We had a problem with the pit lane speed limiter and we had to come all the way back. It was a great result with Marlboro Team Penske. Of course, I have to thank Honda, it was my first great result with them and also Firestone. It was a great result and I'm really happy." JIMMY VASSER: "The Toyota engine was making phenomenal mileage. I was running behind Gil (de Ferran) and we thought he was running rich which he did at Homestead. But (Roberto) Moreno did a great job. He was the real deal. We were content and I was second or third and then got shifted back a bit with pit strategy. I'm happy with the performance of my car, the Lola, the Toyota, and the team. I think you're going to see a lot more Jimmy Vasser this year."

Former Denver Broncos' quarterback John Elway, Grand Marshal of the 26th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, brought his legendary right arm out of retirement for a few moments Sunday when he launched autographed footballs into the grandstands just prior to the start of the FedEx Championship Series Champ Car race.

-CART-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Jimmy Vasser , Greg Moore , John Elway