Brazilian Castroneves earns first CART win

Posted: Monday, June 19, 2000

DETROIT -- Helio Castroneves likes to drive hard, but he earned his first CART victory by being conservative.

The daring Brazilian steered away from trouble, stretched out his fuel supply and beat Italy's Max Papis by 4.415 seconds Sunday in the Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit.

''Now they know who Helio Castroneves is,'' said Castroneves, who has won at all levels on three continents since beginning his career in go-carts at age 12. ''I knew it would come, but you're still pulling your hair.''

Castroneves, the seventh different winner in seven FedEx championship races this season, took the lead when pole-sitter Juan Montoya went out with a broken driveshaft on the 62nd lap of the 84-lap race and steadily pulled away over the 2.3-mile, 14-turn road course.

It was the fourth time this season that Montoya, the sensational Colombian who won the points series as a rookie last year and took the Indianapolis 500 last month, has been unable to finish.

''I don't feel sorry for him, because I have been in that situation many times,'' Castroneves said. ''But, I wanted to race him.''

Canadian Paul Tracy, this season's points leader going into the Detroit race, was pulled from the competition late in the race for a pit-lane violation, his third in three races.

''We've just got a black cloud hanging over our heads right now,'' Tracy said.

Rookie Oriol Servia of Spain, starting 12th, finished third, just ahead of Scotsman Dario Franchitti, winner of last year's Detroit race.

''They shouldn't keep treating me like a rookie anymore,'' Servia said.

Castroneves was ecstatic with his win. At times during his victory lap he could be seen pumping both arms in the air, hands completely off the wheel.

Instead of pulling into the pit lane, Castroneves stopped on the straight part of the road in front of the pits and jumped out of the red- and-white Marlboro car. Still wearing his helmet, Castroneves leaped up on the high cyclone fence and shook the wire in joy.

He finally jumped back down, ran back across the road, leaping over a cement barrier and into the arms of crew members. Moments later, he ran up on the victory stand, sliding on his knees and pumping his arms toward the sky.

''I did it. I did it,'' Castroneves said through tears. ''I don't believe, but I believe it, actually.''

Castroneves' top previous finish in three seasons on the CART circuit had been three runner-ups, including April 16 at Long Beach, Calif. The 25-year-old gave the resurgent Team Penske its 101st win, but the first at Detroit since Tracy drove for the team in 1994.

Just like 1999, when he also won the pole, this was Montoya's race to lose. A year ago, he led 58 laps before a collision with Franchitti caused him to finish 17th. This time he lasted 61 laps.

Schumacher gets fourth Canadian Grand Prix victory

MONTREAL -- Michael Schumacher ran a conservative race in the rain Sunday en route to his fourth victory in the Canadian Grand Prix and his fifth of the season.

The two-time Formula One champion also solidified his grip on the points lead, as series runner-up David Coulthard was unable to overcome a penalty near the start of the race and failed to score.

Schumacher went into the race leading Coulthard by 12 points and came away leading by 22 over the Scotsman after seven of 17 races this season.

It was the first time since two-time defending Formula One champion Mika Hakkinen won in Hungary in August 1999 -- a span of 13 races -- that a pole-winner has taken the checkered flag.

Coulthard, who started second on the 22-car grid, stayed with Schumacher early. But Coulthard had stalled moments before the start and several of his crew members were caught on the grid as the cars took off for the parade lap.

FIA officials said it was an automatic 10-second stop-and-go penalty for having team members on the grid within 15 seconds of the car's departure.

Coulthard stopped on lap 14, falling out of contention and leaving Schumacher more than 17 seconds ahead of local favorite Jacques Villeneuve, who had made a sensational start, moving from sixth to third in the first turn of the race.

''He was there and I had to drive a reasonable pace,'' Schumacher said of Coulthard. ''But I wouldn't say I was on the limit. After about 10 laps, I knew he was going for a stop-and-go and I was able to take it easier.''

Even though the German was never pressed by his competitors the rest of the way, he did not have an easy race.

''We had some kind of worry during the race,'' Schumacher said. ''There was a sensor signal telling us we had some problem and I took it safe and made a stop earlier than scheduled. The team looked and couldn't find anything and off I went.''

Not knowing what the problem was -- or even if there really was one -- forced Schumacher to run a very conservative race. But the rain that began falling on lap 23 of the 69-lap event at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve would have slowed him down anyway.

The 2.747-mile road course on an island at the edge of downtown Montreal became more treacherous as the race went on, with numerous cars, including Schumacher's Ferrari, going off course and several, including Villeneuve, getting into accidents.

Rain, fog cause postponement of Pocono 500

LONG POND, Pa. -- The rain and fog that caused postponement Sunday of the Pocono 500 means Ricky Rudd will have to wait another day to see if he's ready to win for the first time in nearly two years.

The race, only the second NASCAR event postponed in 27 years at Pocono International Raceway, was rescheduled for 10 a.m. EDT Monday. In 1979, the race also was run after a one-day postponement.

Rudd, who gave up as an owner-driver to move this year to powerful Robert Yates Racing, has good reason to be optimistic.

After suffering through a final season as an owner-- one in which he failed to win for the first time in 17 years -- Rudd sold his equipment and shed the dual role he so often said was too much to deal with. Now, he's in the famed No. 28 Ford of Yates, hoping to resurrect it as well as his career.

The car, driven over the years by a slew of Hall of Famers, including Cale Yarborough and Bobby Allison, has become the second car in the Yates garage behind the No. 88 of Winston Cup champion Dale Jarrett.

But Rudd is making it look like he can take the car back to the winner's circle for the first time since Ernie Irvan won three years ago in Brooklyn, Mich. Rudd has three top-five finishes in the last five races, and stands eighth in points, his best showing since a sixth-place finish in 1996.

''It really should been five out of five,'' said Rudd, who will start inside Jarrett on the second row. ''There have been a couple of miscues late in the race, freak things happening, but the performance has been there.''

Only Jarrett and Winston Cup points leader Bobby Labonte -- each with four top fives in that span -- have been more consistent.

''I've just been real pleased,'' Rudd said. ''I can't think of anybody that's probably been any more solid week in and week out.''

Part of the reason is the engine program of Doug Yates, who builds the powerplants for his father.

Those stout engines have carried the No. 88 to 18 victories in the last 4 1/2 years. But the No. 28 team has only the victory by Irvan.

Yates is encouraged not only by Rudd, but by crew chief Michael McSwain. He called the shots in Rudd's final season as an owner-driver.

''We couldn't be more pleased,'' Yates said, putting Rudd in a class with some of the recent drivers of the car. ''Ricky Rudd is right up there with Ernie Irvan, Davey Allison and Dale Jarrett.''

In Rudd, a 43-year-old Virginian, Yates sees a driver who puts to good use his 27 years in Winston Cup racing.

''He can probably give you more feedback than any racer I've ever worked with,'' Yates said.

But Yates realizes patience is the key to the union of Rudd and the 33-year-old McSwain.

''It will just take a little time to get everything to gel,'' the engine builder said. ''They're just real close to becoming a very good race team.''

Rusty Wallace, who set a track qualifying record with a run Friday at 171.625 mph, sits on the pole for the race. John Andretti has the outside of the front row.

After Rudd and two-time Pocono winner Jarrett come Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin, both having bad seasons. Gordon is a three-time winner on the track, one of the few on which Martin is yet to be victorious.

Mike Skinner and Jeff Burton are in the fourth row, followed by Tony Stewart and former Pocono polesitter Joe Nemechek. Stewart will try to become the first driver to win three straight race since Gordon won four in a row in 1998.

Bobby Labonte, who last year became the first driver since Tim Richmond in 1986 to sweep the two summer races at Pocono, will start 11th.

The last postponement of a Winston Cup race was last October at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. The race was run the next day.

Subscribe to Peninsula Clarion

Trending this week:


© 2018. All Rights Reserved. | Contact Us