VANCOUVER, British Columbia. (September 3, 2000) - Native Canadian Paul Tracy of Team KOOL Green continued his torrid charge back into the FedEx Championship Series points race Sunday by registering his series-leading third victory of the season...
VANCOUVER, British Columbia. (September 3, 2000) - Native Canadian Paul Tracy of Team KOOL Green continued his torrid charge back into the FedEx Championship Series points race Sunday by registering his series-leading third victory of the season in the Molson Indy Vancouver at Concord Pacific Place before an enthusiastic throng of 63,677.
Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard), whose earlier victories came at Long Beach and Road America, posted a 0.384-second triumph over teammate Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard), bringing Team KOOL Green and team owner Barry Green its fourth one-two finish of the past two seasons and first of this campaign.
With his victory, Tracy catapulted from sixth to second in the championship with 120 points, just six behind championship leader Michael Andretti (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola) of Newman/Haas Racing. Andretti, who finished 12th, leads the series with 126 points, but the top five drivers are separated by a mere 11 points as the series moves to Round 16, the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey Featuring the Shell 300, next Sunday at Laguna Seca Raceway.
Tracy, who started second following Franchitti's track-record, pole-winning performance Saturday, took the lead on Lap 53 when Franchitti's car stalled while exiting the pits during a caution period. He remained in front for the balance of the 90-lap event and became the first Canadian in the 11-year history of the Molson Indy Vancouver to drive to victory.
Tracy's 18th career victory moved him into sole possession of seventh place on the CART career list, breaking a tie with Danny Sullivan and moving him one behind sixth-place Mario Andretti (19). It was Tracy's eighth career win on a temporary street circuit.
Franchitti's runnerup finish was a season-best performance and his third podium of the year. Franchitti, who won from the pole at Vancouver in 1998, led a race-high 50 laps en route to his best finish on a road or street course since last year's win at Australia.
Adrian Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford Reynard) of Patrick Racing finished third for his second consecutive podium finish and 12th points-paying finish in his past 13 starts, dating to a victory at Rio de Janeiro. The effort moved Fernandez into third in the championship with 117 points, nine behind Andretti.
Rounding out the top five were Christian Fittipaldi (Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford Lola) of Newman/Haas Racing, whose fourth-place effort was his fourth top-five result of the season. Gil de Ferran (Marlboro Honda Reynard) of Marlboro Team Penske finished a strong fifth after overcoming a blend-line violation that resulted in a drive-through [pit lane] penalty at the midway point of the event. De Ferran collected 10 points for the effort and now stands fourth in the championship chase with 116.
Roberto Moreno (Visteon Ford Reynard) of Patrick Racing finished 10th, one lap down to the leaders. He collected two points and now stands fifth in the championship with 115 points.
PAUL TRACY, KOOL Honda Reynard: "It was a fantastic day for everybody on Team KOOL Green. I don't know if I had the outright speed to beat Dario, but I stayed close to him and when he had a problem in the pits I was able to get into the lead. I was happy, but at the same time I was disappointed for Dario because he really was the measure of us today. I'm not emotional sad, but emotional happy. It was a great, festival atmosphere all week here and I'm glad to get a win here. I think Dario and I are going to have quite a celebration tonight. We've got to look at it as a team effort. To win races at this stage, you've got to have everything go right, no mistakes. At the end, I think I could've probably pushed harder if I had to, but I didn't need to do that. I think to win the championship, and to beat people like Michael Andretti, you're going to have to win. You're going to have to take the bull by the horns and get after it. You're not going to be able to just cruise around and collect points. Now that we've gotten back in the championship, we're not going to change the way we're doing things."
DARIO FRANCHITTI, KOOL Honda Reynard: "It really was a strong effort from the team all weekend. We were on the pole on Friday, on the pole on Saturday, and we were second-fastest in the warmup this morning. Things were looking good until I came into the pits and I stalled it. We have an agreement in the team that whoever is leading, it's his race unless you're getting pressure from behind, and that wasn't the case today. I was playing with Paul a little bit, and I think he was getting a little heated for a little bit, but he knew that I wasn't allowed to pass him. I'm a little disappointed because I really wanted to win this one today, but it's better to have a 1-2 finish for Team KOOL Green than to have another Chicago incident. The atmosphere on the parade lap was unbelievable. People were going crazy, and I'm not even from here. They really went crazy when Paul came around. I think it was an appropriate tribute to Greg [Moore]. It was a party atmosphere, and let's face it, Greg was a party guy. I'm going to take Mr. Tracy out tonight and show him a party."
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ, Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford Reynard: "It was just fantastic today. I'm very happy for the guys. We didn't have the car all weekend, we were struggling to get grip at the back of the car. But we did what we always do, just be patient and wait for the car to develop. At the start, Michel Jourdain was very strong, and I just stayed right there. Then, [engineer] John Ward made a key decision. He brought me into the pits at just the right time and it was perfect. I knew Cristiano da Matta was going to have to pit at the end, so we just waited for the opportunity. I'm just happy to finish today and not make any mistakes. That was difficult today, because - at least for us - the conditions were very cool and it was hard to get temperature into the tires. It's not just me or John Ward, it's the whole thing. The team is making the right decisions. I think what it will take to win the championship is just to keep scoring. We've just got to keep finishing in the top five. Paul is on a roll right now, but we've just got to stay close and we'll see what happens."
Pre-race ceremonies paid tribute to the memory of Greg Moore, a Champ Car driver who lost his life in a racing accident at the 1999 season finale. With hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, Dayton Indy Lights series president Roger Bailey, and Greg's family participating, interim CART President and CEO Bobby Rahal announced that Moore's car No. 99 was being retired from Champ Car, Indy Lights and Toyota Atlantic competition. Moore, a native of Maple Ridge, B.C., near Vancouver, earned five victories and five pole positions during his four-year Champ Car career and finished among the top-10 drivers in each of his FedEx Championship Series seasons. He is also the career leader in Indy Lights victories with 13. Car No. 99 joins the No. 14 of all-time Champ Car victory leader A.J. Foyt as the only retired numbers in Champ Car history.
Michael Andretti (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola) moved into sole possession of second place for CART career starts by making his 265th Sunday, which broke a tie with former three-time series champion Bobby Rahal. Other starts of note made Sunday were by Jimmy Vasser (Target Toyota Lola), who tied Arie Luyendyk for 12th place by making his 142nd, and Adrian Fernandez, who tied Roberto Guerrero for 16th place by making his 120th.
Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard) and Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard) recorded the fourth one-two finish for Team KOOL Green in the past two seasons. The others came last year at Toronto and Detroit, where Franchitti drove to victory, and at Houston, where Tracy finished on top.
Tracy has now recorded his three of his past four victories on temporary street circuits (Houston last year, Long Beach and Vancouver this season). He also owns podium finishes in three of his past four starts in Canada with a runner-up effort at Toronto last year and a third-place result this year.
Tracy's victory was the series-leading seventh of the season for Honda and its third in a row, following wins by Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard) of Marlboro Team Penske at Mid-Ohio and Tracy at Road America. It was also Honda's third straight win at Vancouver, following victories by Franchitti in 1998 and Juan Montoya in 1999. Honda's 22-point sweep for the race victory, pole position and most laps led drew it to nine points (256-247) behind Ford in the quest for the CART Manufacturer's Championship.
Dario Franchitti's runner-up performance was his third podium finish of the season, following second at Japan and third at Michigan Speedway.
Adrian Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford Reynard) captured the Budweiser Hard Charger Award for the event for making the greatest improvement from start (15th) to finish in the 25-car field.
Rookie Oriol Servia (Telefonica Toyota Reynard) of PPI Motorsports finished 11th to extend a run which has seen him score championship points in a series-high seven of eight road or street course events this season. The remainder of the run includes finishes of sixth at Long Beach, a career-best third at Detroit, eighth at Portland, 11th at Toronto and 10th at Mid-Ohio. He stands 16th in the championship with 46 points.
Paul Tracy's victory was the fourth consecutive triumph for a graduate of the Dayton Indy Lights series, in which Fernandez competed in 1992. The ran began with a victory by Cristiano da Matta (Pioneer/MCI WorldCom Toyota Reynard) at Chicago, followed by victories by Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard) at Mid-Ohio and Tracy at Road America. It was the seventh win of the season for an Indy Lights grad following victories by Tracy at Long Beach, Adrian Fernandez at Rio de Janeiro and Castroneves at Detroit.
The FedEx Championship Series continues with Round 16, the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey Featuring the Shell 300, next Sunday, September 10, at Laguna Seca Raceway.