Lehigh Valley Grand Prix Race Report - 2001

5/7/2001 8:35:50 PM

Honda Racing Report
Sunday, May 6, 2001

Race Report
Lehigh Valley Grand Prix
Circuit: Nazareth Speedway (.95 mile oval) Nazareth, PA
2000 Winner: Gil de Ferran (Honda) 101.219 mph
Weather: Clear, mild, 78-degrees F

Race Results:

Fn. St. Driver                Manufacturer  Laps  Average Speed/Notes
1.  23. Scott Dixon           Toyota        225  114.840 mph average speed
2.   2. Kenny Brack           Ford Cosworth 225  -0.366 seconds
3.   8. Paul Tracy            Honda         225  -1.344 seconds
4.  11. Jimmy Vasser          Toyota        225  -1.744 seconds
5.  17. Christian Fittipaldi  Toyota        225  -4.225 seconds
6.  13. Michael Andretti      Honda         225  -6.401 seconds
7.   1. Bruno Junqueira       Toyota        225  -9.139 seconds
8.   6. Dario Franchitti      Honda         225  -9.292 seconds
9.   4. Oriol Servia          Ford Cosworth 225  -12.321 seconds
10.  9. Cristiano da Matta    Toyota        225  -12.557 seconds
11.  5. Helio Castroneves     Honda         225  -13.375 seconds
12. 16. Roberto Moreno        Toyota        225  -14.207 seconds
15. 19. Shinji Nakano         Honda         224  Running
16. 10. Tony Kanaan           Honda         224  Running
19.  6. Adrian Fernandez      Honda         186  Not running - mechanical
20. 21. Alex Zanardi          Honda         167  Not running - mechanical
23. 15. Gil de Ferran         Honda         120  Not running - contact

Tracy Heads Honda Drivers with Podium Finish at Nazareth

Paul Tracy moved into a tie for the early points lead in the CART FedEx Championship Series today with a third place finish here at Nazareth Speedway, his second podium finish in the three races so far this season.

The Team KOOL Green driver moved up three places from his fourth-row starting position early in the contest, but then lost ground during the first round of pit stops, dropping back to 10th in the running order. While 20-year-old rookie Scott Dixon went on to become the youngest winner in CART history - and the first-ever rookie to post his inaugural win at his first oval race - Tracy fought back past rivals including Jimmy Vasser and Christian Fittipaldi. Today's third place finish ties the Canadian with Mexico winner Cristiano da Matta for the early-season points lead.

Michael Andretti had another top-ten finish for Team Motorola along with Dario Franchitti, who ran as high as second before being shuffled back in the order following his final pit stop. Helio Castroneves recovered from an early spin to finish 11th today while Tony Kanaan led a total of 54 laps before also falling back in the order with a late-race pit stop for fuel. Shinji Nakano followed up his strong Texas Motor Speedway qualifying effort by running second and challenging Kanaan for the lead at mid-race. But then he too was forced to make a late stop for fuel and finished 15th.

Alex Zanardi's run of bad luck continued today, dropping out after 167 laps with gearbox failure, Adrian Fernandez was another to suffer mechanical problems, while Gil de Ferran crashed out of the contest, fortunately without injury, on lap 120.

The FedEx Championship Series now heads across the Pacific Ocean to the Honda-owned Twin Ring Motegi Circuit north of Tokyo for the second of three consecutive oval track races, the May 19 Firestone Firehawk 500.

Driver's Championship                 Manufacturer's Championship
 1. Cristiano da Matta   40 points    1. Toyota             57 points
    Paul Tracy           40           2. Honda              52
 3. Gil de Ferran        30           3. Ford Cosworth      31
    Jimmy Vasser         30           4. Phoenix Ilmor       0
 5. Helio Castroneves    29
 6. Kenny Brack          28
 7. Scott Dixon          20           Rookie of the Year
    Michael Andretti     20           1. Scott Dixon        20 points
 9. Dario Franchitti     17           2. Bruno Junqueiro    11
10. Tony Kanaan          12           3. Nicholas Minassian  7
11. Bruno Junqueira      11
12. Christian Fittipaldi 10

Paul Tracy (#26 Team KOOL Green Honda) Started 8th, finished 3rd, his second 3rd place finish of the season: "I had to let (Kenny) Brack and (Scott) Dixon go by me. We knew Brack was going to make it to the finish and was running strong today, but we didn't think Scott would. We thought he'd have to come in one more time. I had a couple of close calls today, a couple of guys spun in front of me in Turn 3, but I passed two or three guys as well. I got a little angry on the (third) restart, got the fire in my eyes and got by a couple of guys."

Michael Andretti (#39 Motorola Honda) Started 13th, finished 6th: "It was just a total roll of the dice with the yellows and different pit strategies today. Otherwise you just more-or-less lined up and ran around in the pack. You could get close to guys, but it was just real difficult to pass with all the turbulence. Every time you got close to someone in traffic you would lose the front end."

Dario Franchitti (#27 Team KOOL Green Honda) Started 12th, finished 8th: "I had a great car today, the best car I've had all year. It was really good in traffic, and very good at putting the power down, the best car I've ever had at Nazareth. But today was a race of pit strategy and timing of the yellows. A little different and we'd have been much higher up the order, but the breaks didn't go totally our way today."

Helio Castroneves (#3 Marlboro Team Penske Honda) Started 5th, finished 11th: "Overall, the car was pretty good, but this is always a tough race. I spun in turn three and managed to continue, but lost confidence. Turn three is usually a good place to pass here but after my spin I was being extra cautious. The good news is that I was able to finish in the points for the first time at this track."

Shinji Nakano (#53 Avex/Fernandez Racing Honda) Started 19th, finished 15th: "I had a good car this morning and I had good confidence for the race. But trying to conserve fuel did not help me a lot. Two or three times I had a chance to pass Tony Kanaan for first, but I had to worry about fuel and I could not overtake him. The team gave me a good car and if I had a little more luck, we would have done better. I have to say the team keeps on getting better and better and that helps us going into Motegi."

Tony Kanaan (#55 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Reynard) Started 10th, finished 16th: "The car was perfect today, I've got to give credit to the team for giving me a great car. But plain and simple, we toook a gamble and it didn't pay off. What can you do? Racing is a risk business, and we were counting on there being a clean race the rest of the way. It didn't go that way, and the people who pitted while we stayed out managed to go all the way to the end."

Adrian Fernandez (#51 Tecate/Quaker State/Fernandez Racing Honda) Started 6th, finished 19th (not running - mechanical): "Its very unfortunate, something happened and it just died, something electrical, or something in the engine, I do not know. I had no warning, nothing . It happened right in the middle of turn two. I reset the dash, and tried all the exercises we worked on through the winter, but nothing worked to bring the engine back to life. Everything was working good until that point. We were running in the top four all day. And we were for sure a top five finish today. But it was one of those things. It was not our day."

Alex Zanardi (#66 Pioneer/Mo Nunn Racing Reynard) Started 21st, finished 20th (not running - mechanical): " As the leader was coming up behind me, I started to have major balance problems. There was nothing I could do. Than we started having transmission problems that almost put me into the fence three times. The car would jump out of gear on its own and I was entering the turns in neutral. The transmission finally gave up the ghost and we had to call it a day. One of those negative weekends."

Gil de Ferran (#1 Marlboro Team Penske Honda) Started 15th, finished 23rd (not running - contact): "I had a good run coming off Turn two and saw my opportunity to pass (Alex) Tagliani. I dove down the inside and was committed half-way through when he decided to close the door on me. He clipped my right front wing which sent me into the wall. Up until that point we were doing okay. I stalled at my first pit stop, which really didn't help our cause, and after that we were just trying to climb back through the field."