Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland Race Report - 2001

7/2/2001 12:33:10 AM

Honda Racing Report

Sunday, July 1, 2001

Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland Race Report
Circuit: Burke Lakefront Airport (2.1 mile temporary circuit), Cleveland, OH
2000 Winner: Roberto Moreno (Ford Cosworth) 112.619 mph average speed
Weather: Cool, overcast, windy, 58-degrees F

Race Results:
Fn. St. Driver                Manufacturer      Laps    Average Speed/Notes
 1. 14. Dario Franchitti      Honda             100      118.007 mph
 2.  5. Memo Gidley           Toyota            100       -0.305 seconds
 3.  4. Bryan Herta           Ford Cosworth     100       -7.897 seconds
 4. 20. Gil de Ferran         Honda             100      -12.070 seconds
 5. 24. Jimmy Vasser          Toyota            100      -21.398 seconds
 6. 17. Kenny Brack           Ford Cosworth     100      -22.061 seconds
 7. 19. Cristiano da Matta    Toyota            100      -27.539 seconds
 8. 25. Roberto Moreno        Toyota            100      -28.108 seconds
 9.  7. Alex Tagliani         Ford Cosworth     100      -30.376 seconds
10.  1. Mauricio Gugelmin     Toyota            100      -31.838 seconds
11. 15. Christian Fittipaldi  Toyota            100      -43.157 seconds
12. 23. Helio Castroneves     Honda             100      -43.799 seconds
13. 13. Alex Zanardi          Honda             100      -52.570 seconds
15. 21. Michael Andretti      Honda              99        Running
16.  6. Tony Kanaan           Honda              99        Running
21.  2. Adrian Fernandez      Honda              95        Not running - mechanical
22. 10. Shinji Nakano         Honda              41        Not running - mechanical
24. 26. Paul Tracy            Honda               7        Not running - mechanical

Franchitti Goes from Last to First in Cleveland

In the most exciting race of the season to date, Honda-powered Dario Franchitti held off a charging Memo Gidley by just three-tenths of a second for his first victory of the season at the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland. It was Honda's third race win of 2001, and increased the company's lead in the very competitive CART Manufacturer's Championship as the 21-race season nears its' mid-point.

Running a two pit-stop strategy that required the Team KOOL Green driver to conserve fuel throughout the second half of the race, Franchitti still managed to fight off repeated attacks from Bryan Herta. Meanwhile, Gidley, running a planned three-stop race that enabled him to burn more fuel, led 57 of the 100 race laps, and set the stage for the thrilling finish.

In addition to Franchitti, several other Honda-powered drivers had strong runs, though not all were able to post a high finish. Gil de Ferran ran an all-out, three-stop race strategy, and was rewarded with a fourth place result. Adrian Fernandez had his strongest showing since the formation of his new Champ Car team, the Mexican owner/driver running in the lead group until felled by mechanical problems just five laps from the finish.

Former champion Alex Zanardi also had his best race since returning to the series this year. The Mo Nunn Racing driver battled with Fernandez for third place during the middle of the race, before the lapped car of Max Wilson ran into the rear of Zanardi's Honda, resulting in a flat rear tire and unscheduled pit stop. Helio Castroneves and Michael Andretti each attempted a two-stop race, but eventually had to pit a third time for fuel and finished 12th today and 15th.

Driver's Championship              Manufacturer's Championship
1. Kenny Brack           84 points      1. Honda          136 points
2. Helio Castroneves     70             2. Toyota         132
3. Dario Franchitti      65             3. Ford Cosworth  114
4. Gil de Ferran         56
5. Cristiano da Matta    55
6. Michael Andretti      53
7. Jimmy Vasser          50             Rookie of the Year
8. Christian Fittipaldi  48             1. Scott Dixon         44 points
9. Scott Dixon           44             2. Bruno Junqueira     23
10. Roberto Moreno       41             3. Max Wilson          12
11. Paul Tracy           40             4. Nicholas Minassian   7
12. Max Papis            38             5. Tora Takagi          3
13. Tony Kanaan          34
19. Adrian Fernandez     11
21. Alex Zanardi          8
24. Shinji Nakano         6

Dario Franchitti (#27 Team KOOL Green Honda) Started 14th, finished 1st, 1st win this year, 7th career victory, 3rd Honda victory of 2001, increased Honda's lead in the CART Manufacturer's Championship: ""It's a great victory for Team KOOL Green and it feels really good to be back. I thought going in we had a reasonable chance. Then in the first corner I was trying to avoid the accidents and went off, and after we pitted we were last. But the crew did a great job in the pits today and I just drove as quick as I could. At the end, Kyle (Moyer, Team Manager) was telling me, 'Memo's catching you and Brian's coming up behind you, but you've got to save fuel' and I thought 'which one do you want me to do?' The pressure was on. Then Memo started catching and catching me. On the last lap I could see him coming on, the dash was showing less than a gallon of fuel on board and I kept waiting for the engine to stutter, but it never did. I couldn't believe it when we won. Everything went our way today."

Gil de Ferran (#1 Marlboro Team Penske Honda) Started 20th, finished 4th: "We had a great race, I think I passed more guys today than I have in the past few years. We planned a very aggressive strategy, pushing all the time, and it paid off. The car was very, very good all weekend and it was handling beautifully during the race. We're happy we were able to move up in the points and look forward to a weekend off before we head to Toronto and the next three-in-a-row swing of races."

Helio Castroneves (#3 Marlboro Team Penske Honda) Started 23rd, finished 12th: "We had a two pit stop strategy at the start of the race. But after the halfway point we knew we'd need three stops to make the finish, and by then it was too late to make up track position. At least we are still second in the point standings, but we need to stay focused and work for a strong result in Toronto."

Alex Zanardi (#66 Pioneer/Worldcom/Mo Nunn Racing Honda): Started 13th, finished 13th: "The car was running well today, which is very encouraging after the way things have been going. I did something unusual last night: I left my engineers all alone after telling them the things I was feeling in the car. I came back this morning and they made some significant changes to the car, all for the better. It was very energizing to be running for the lead until our misfortunes with Max Wilson. It's one of those things, he was trying to make a move on me when I'm not sure he had a move to make. When you make a move, there has to be a move. You can't just settle for getting close. He made contact, but I didn't feel a thing. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, when you don't feel something, it doesn't do any damage. But it punctured my tire and the rest is history. I'm disappointed, of course. But to have the car that I had today and to fight for the lead the way we were, we leave here very, very encouraged. I'm keeping my feet on the ground, but I can't help but feel this is the turning point to our season."