team owner Barry Green with his two boys, second place
Dario Franchitti left and race winner Paul Tracy.
Takes A Step
Title Far From
Over As The
Prix's Top 12 Takes Shape
(September 26, 1999) - Juan Montoya (Target Honda Reynard) and Dario Franchitti
(KOOL Honda Reynard) are both heading to the $10 million Hawaiian Super
Prix, November 11 - 13, but it remains to be seen who will hit Oahu with
the title of Big Kahuna. A possible chance to seal the 1999 FedEx
Championship Series in Houston this past weekend ended early for points
leader Montoya which allowed Franchitti to close to within 13 points of
the quick Colombian with two races remaining.
the end of the day, however, it was Franchitti's teammate Paul Tracy (KOOL
Honda Reynard) who won big in Houston, Texas style. Team KOOL Green enjoyed
a stellar day at Sunday's Texaco Grand Prix of Houston as Tracy emerged
victorious and Franchitti re-emerged with a vengeance in the FedEx Championship
Series title race with a runner-up finish on the downtown streets of Houston.
was extremely dominant en route to his second victory of the season and
first on a temporary street circuit since winning at Australia in 1995.
He led a race-high 85 of the 100 laps on the 1.527-mile temporary street
layout as he rolled to a comfortable 13.733-second margin over his Team
KOOL Green teammate. It marked the third time this season that Team KOOL
Green has finished one-two, the others being Franchitti wins at Toronto
and Detroit. Michael Andretti (Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Swift Ford) thrilled
the title sponsor by taking third.
car was just perfect," Tracy said. "I couldn't have asked for
a better car today. My goal was to get ahead of Bryan on the start, and
I was able to do so quite easily. Then I just wanted to stay behind Juan
until the first pit stop. [On the incident between Juan Montoya and Helio
Castro-Neves] I saw it, and then I just told myself to relax and be smooth
and do what we know how to do, and I was able to pick up a second a lap.
[Regarding his teammate, Dario Franchitti's, pursuit of the PPG Cup] I'll
do everything I can. I like to think that I helped the situation with Dario
by keeping the pressure on Juan."
battled back from an ill-handling car at the outset and benefited from
the way the caution flags fell for his pit stops to post his series-leading
10th podium of the season. With series leader Montoya being held scoreless,
Franchitti's performance allowed him to close the gap in the championship
race to 13 points, 200-187, with two races and a maximum 44 PPG Cup points
Team KOOL Green drivers benefited from the misfortune of Montoya, who started
from the pole and led the first 12 laps before trouble struck. A full-course
caution came out on Lap 12 for Helio Castro-Neves (Hogan Motor Leasing
Mercedes Lola), who made contact with the tire wall in Turn 10. Montoya
entered the turn and clipped Castro-Neves' car, ending his day as well.
was not the way we wanted to end this day," Montoya said. "We
had a great car all weekend and we were really fast early in the race.
Obviously, I'm very upset about running into Helio Castro-Neves, but the
season is not over. We still have two races to go."
incident allowed Tracy to inherit the lead and gave Franchitti a huge opportunity
to carve into the 29-point deficit he was facing entering Round 18 of the
20-race season. Tracy was the initial benefactor as he grabbed the lead
and took off from the field on the restart. At one point - Lap 45 - he
had manufactured a 28.059-second cushion and only relinquished his lead
for three laps to Franchitti when he made his only pit stop of the afternoon.
had his work cut out as his first pit stop on the Castro-Neves' caution
dropped him to 19th in the 26-car field. He deftly sliced his way upward
and moved from 14th on Lap 33 to the lead on Lap 49. Franchitti led for
three laps before making his final pit stop under caution on Lap 52 and
returning in fifth place. He picked off Jan Magnussen (Visteon Patrick
Racing Ford Reynard) and Tony Kanaan (McDonald's Championship Racing Honda
Reynard) to move to third and then made a daring move on Christian Fittipaldi
(Big Kmart Ford Swift) that resulted in contact between the two to gain
like Franchitti, pitted out of sequence in the early stages and the gamble
paid off. It allowed him to gain his fifth podium of the season and 84th
of his career. The top-five finishers were closed out by the Team Rahal
tandem of Max Papis (Miller Lite Ford Reynard), who was fourth, and Bryan
Herta (Shell Ford Reynard), who was fifth. It was the ninth top-five finish
for Papis and fifth top-six effort for Herta.
of the top six finishers improved their chances of making the Top 12 cut
for the Hawaiian Super Prix. Only the top dozen points finishers in this
year's FedEx Championship Series will make the historic race in Hawaii.
teammate Jimmy Vasser (Target Honda Reynard) also failed to finish in Houston
but remain in the critical Top 12.