VANCOUVER, British Columbia (September 5, 1999) - Rookie Juan Montoya of Target/Chip Ganassi Racing rolled to his third consecutive victory and FedEx Championship Series-leading seventh overall with a strong run from the pole position ...
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (September 5, 1999) - Rookie Juan Montoya of Target/Chip Ganassi Racing rolled to his third consecutive victory and FedEx Championship Series-leading seventh overall with a strong run from the pole position Sunday at the Molson Indy Vancouver before a rain-drenched crowd of 60,938 at Concord Pacific Place. Montoya (Target Honda Reynard), who had won previously at Mid-Ohio and Chicago, had a perfect weekend by scoring a maximum 22 PPG Cup points to strengthen his FedEx Championship Series lead over Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard) to 194-171 heading to Round 17 of 20 - the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey - next weekend at Laguna Seca Raceway. Montoya led 73 of the 74 laps en route to a 7.585-second win over Canadian Patrick Carpentier (Player's Mercedes Reynard) on the reconfigured 1.781-mile temporary street course, but rain showers prior to the start led to conditions that provided plenty of excitement among the contenders. The rain, which forced the race to be a timed two-hour affair per CART rules, necessitated a wet start - all competitors were required to begin with treaded rain tires - and the first 10 laps were run under caution due to the track conditions. Montoya led the first 35 laps before he surrendered the lead when Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard) made a strong inside move on the ensuing lap. Tracy's lead was brief - one lap - as he lost control of the car in the slick conditions coming out of Turn 3, spun out and continued. A caution flag flew for another incident and Tracy utilized a strong pit stop to maintain second to Montoya. Franchitti overtook his Team KOOL Green teammate on Lap 51 and began his chase of Montoya. He began to pressure Montoya after a restart on Lap 59. On Lap 60, Franchitti attempted to get underneath Montoya in Turn 4 but spun out and made slight contact with Montoya before slamming into the tire barrier. Montoya continued on with no damage while Franchitti's car sustained heavy rear-wing damage. The wing was replaced during a pit stop, dropping him to 14th, but Franchitti rebounded strongly in his bid for points and gained three with a 10th-place finish. Montoya was never challenged after that point en route to his third victory from the pole of the season. Carpentier moved into second courtesy of Franchitti's spin and maintained the position to equal his career-best finish established at Gateway in 1997. The performance also was the best by a Canadian driver in the 10-year history of the Molson Indy Vancouver. Jimmy Vasser (Target Honda Reynard) finished third to match his season-best effort achieved at Chicago. It also was his fifth consecutive top-five performance. Mauricio Gugelmin (Hollywood PacWest Mercedes) finished a season-best fourth, topping his seventh at Japan. Rookie Cristiano da Matta (MCI WorldCom Toyota Reynard) finished fifth for his best performance on a road/street course.
JUAN MONTOYA, Target Honda Reynard: "This morning during the warmup, the car wasn't brilliant and I was kind of concerned about a damp track. But we did some changes after the warmup and the car improved. [Regarding Franchitti's attempt at a pass for the lead on Lap 60] I got a bit concerned when I got into the corner. I knew he was going to go for the move, and he was too far back. But fortunately, it worked out okay. I wasn't going to be soft with him, just like he wouldn't be with me. I know he scored a few points, but it feels good to leave here with 22 points in my pocket."
PATRICK CARPENTIER, Player's Forsythe Racing Team, Ltd. Mercedes Reynard: "I'm very happy. Our team did very good work with the car this afternoon. There's no better place for this, with Player's sponsoring the race along with Molson, so it was our best day in a long, long time. Jimmy [Vasser] was on me pretty hard [at the end]. I was hoping the race was going to be over pretty soon. It's more gratifying [than his runner-up finish at Gateway in 1997] because it's contract time. I'm very happy. It's in Canada and it's at home. There's no better time or place for this one."
JIMMY VASSER, Target Honda Reynard: "Starting 16th, I was kind of hoping for conditions like we had today. If it stayed wet, we had to hang on and try to stay on the track. I managed to pick up five or six positions on the track and the rest due to attrition. It was treacherous in the wet, and then it was treacherous in the dry. It was a really tough race, a mental race. I was around a lot of stuff that happened. I just tried to hang on, and lo and behold, we got some points."
* Rookie Juan Montoya's (Target Honda Reynard) victory was his third from the pole position, and brought him his third 22-point sweep of the season for winning from the pole and leading the most laps. His previous victories from the pole came at Nazareth, where he led 210 laps, and Cleveland, where he led 76. His three victories from the pole are the most since Alex Zanardi won three times from the pole during his rookie season in 1996.
* Montoya's podium finish tied him with Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard) for the FedEx Championship Series lead with nine podium finishes. In addition to victories at Long Beach, Nazareth, Rio de Janeiro, Cleveland, Mid-Ohio, Chicago and Vancouver, he also owns runner-up efforts at Portland and Michigan.
* Montoya's victory was the sixth in a row for Honda and 12th straight on a road or street course, dating to the start of the 1998 season. Honda also moved one point from clinching its third Manufacturer's Championship in the past four seasons. Honda takes an 87-point lead, 315-228, over Ford into next weekend's Honda Grand Prix of Monterey Featuring the Shell 300 at Laguna Seca Raceway. With a maximum of 88 points available in the season's final four events, Honda needs only a 12th-or-better finish from one of its drivers next week to clinch the Manufacturer's title, since Honda wins all tiebreakers. Honda also captured the Manufacturer's Championship in 1996 and last year.
* Another manufacturer enjoying a banner day Sunday was Toyota, which had three drivers record points-paying finishes, including two among the top six. Rookie Cristiano da Matta (MCI WorldCom Toyota Reynard) led the effort with a fifth-place finish, one off his career-best of fourth established at Nazareth. Richie Hearn (Budweiser Toyota Reynard) finished sixth, a career-best effort on a road or street course, eclipsing seventh at Toronto last year. Andrea Montermini (AAR Denso/Castrol Toyota Eagle) finished 11th in his first start for All American Racers, becoming the fourth driver to score points for the team this season. Alex Barron, Gualter Salles and Raul Boesel had previously scored for AAR.
* Jimmy Vasser's (Target Honda Reynard) third-place finish was his fourth consecutive top-five effort, extending a streak which began with a fifth-place performance at Detroit and includes finishes of fourth at Mid-Ohio and third at Chicago.
* Jan Magnussen (Visteon Ford Reynard) finished seventh in his fourth career start for Patrick Racing, a career-best result for the second-year driver.
* Brazil's lead over Canada in the Nation's Cup competition was trimmed as a result of Patrick Carpentier's (Player's Forsythe Racing Team Ltd. Mercedes Reynard) runner-up finish. Brazil, which entered the weekend with a 213-193 lead over Canada, now holds a 225-209 advantage heading into next weekend's event at Laguna Seca. The United States, the four-time defending Nation's Cup champion, stands third with 205 points.
* CART Vice President of Competition J. Kirk Russell and Chief Steward Wally Dallenbach announced Sunday that Hogan Racing L.L.C. has been placed on probation for disregarding the instructions of a CART official during Saturday's qualifying session. The incident surrounded the Hogan team's attempt to illegally qualify a car that had been withdrawn from the previous day's qualifying session. Terms of the probation are at the discretion of the CART Stewards.
* Sunday's attendance of 60,938 pushed the three-day Molson Indy Vancouver total to 152,929. WHAT'S NEXT
The FedEx Championship Series continues with Round 17, the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey Featuring the Shell 300, on Sunday, Sept. 12 at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, Calif.