Grand Prix of Long Beach Race Report - 2001

4/17/2001 4:17:32 PM

Honda Racing Report
Sunday, April 8, 2001

Race Report
Grand Prix of Long Beach
Circuit: Long Beach Grand Prix (1.97 mile street circuit), Long Beach, CA
2000 Winner: Paul Tracy (Honda) 82.628 mph
Weather: Clear, mild, 65-degrees F

Race Results:

Fn.

St.

Driver

Manufacturer

Laps

Average Speed/Notes

1.

1.

Helio Castroneves

Honda

82

86.223 mph average speed

2.

4.

Cristiano da Matta

Toyota

82

-0.534 seconds

3.

5.

Gil de Ferran

Honda

82

-1.787 seconds

4.

12.

Paul Tracy

Honda

82

-2.435 seconds

5.

8.

Jimmy Vasser

Toyota

82

-3.342 seconds

6.

6.

Dario Franchitti

Honda

82

-4.855 seconds

7.

3.

Tony Kanaan

Honda

82

-5.915 seconds

8.

14.

Nicholas Minassian

Toyota

82

-6.749 seconds

9.

28.

Bruno Junqueira

Toyota

82

-7.565 seconds

10.

15.

Bryan Herta

Ford Cosworth

82

-11.165 seconds

11.

22.

Roberto Moreno

Toyota

82

-11.588 seconds

12.

23.

Shinji Nakano

Honda

82

-12.364 seconds

16.

25.

Adrian Fernandez

Honda

81

Running

26.

20.

Alex Zanardi

Honda

27

Not running - mechanical

28.

9.

Michael Andretti

Honda

3

Not running - mechanical

Honda Drivers Again Rule the Streets of Long Beach

For the sixth consecutive year, a Honda-powered driver has won the Grand Prix of Long Beach, with Helio Castroneves leading from wire to wire today, despite the determined efforts of Kenny Brack and then Cristiano da Matta. The Marlboro Team Penske driver was out of the lead over the entire 82-lap distance, scoring Honda's first win of the season and continuing the company's string of success here in Southern California.

In addition to Castroneves, several other Honda drivers put forth strong runs today, one of the premier events in the 2001 CART FedEx Championship Series. Defending series champion Gil de Ferran ran in the lead group all day, and helped protect his teammate on the final restart of the day, which took place with just four laps remaining. Just behind de Ferran, Team KOOL Green's Paul Tracy posted another exciting drive up through the field, passing several competitors in late-braking runs down into the first turn to finish fourth.

Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan finished sixth and seventh; while Shinji Nakano was another Honda driver to come up through the field, scoring his first championship point of the finish with a 12th place run today after starting 23rd.

Adrian Fernandez briefly ran as high as 11th today, but failed pit strategy for his still-new team dropped him to 16th at the checkered; while returning former champion Alex Zanardi's run of ill fortune continued as the Italian was hit by Bruno Junqueira and retired as a result. Michael Andretti was another early retirement, dropping out with a misfire after just 3 laps today.

After the season-opening road race in Mexico and today's street course event, the CART FedEx Championship Series next heads to Texas Motor Speedway for the first oval race of the season, the Firestone 500 on April 29.

Driver's Championship (final standings)

Manufacturer's Championship

1. Cristiano da Matta

37 points

1. Honda

38 points

2. Gil de Ferran

30

2. Toyota

37

3. Helio Castroneves

28

3. Ford Cosworth

14

4. Paul Tracy

26

4. Phoenix Ilmor

0

5. Jimmy Vasser

18

.

.

6. Michael Andretti

12

.

.

Dario Franchitti

12

Rookie of the Year

Tony Kanaan

12

1. Nicholas Minassian

7 points

9. Kenny Brack

11

2. Bruno Junqueira

4

10. Nicholas Minassian

7

3. Tora Takagi

3

11. Bruno Junqueira

4

.

.

12. Bryan Herta

3

.

.

Tora Takagi

3

.

.

Helio Castroneves (#3 Marlboro Team Penske Honda) Race winner, also pole qualifier and led every lap for his 4th career win; 6th consecutive race victory for Honda at the Grand Prix of Long Beach: "The new fence here is very good. It's pretty stiff! My car was great all race long. My only problem was the fuel monitor, which broke on the parade lap, so I just had to try and conserve fuel and rely on messages from the pits that my mileage was okay. Even when Cristaino (da Matta) was following me so closely I was feeling good. I like the pressure of leading. It was just a perfect weekend for me and the team."

Gil de Ferran (#1 Marlboro Team Penske Honda) Started 5th, finished 3rd: "Helio drove an excellent race today. I should know, I had a great view all day long! We had a great day today. The car was handling very, very well, one of the best cars I have ever had. Dario (Franchitti) actually passed us at the start, but I was able to re-pass him under braking for turn one and after that it was a very smooth race for us."

Paul Tracy (#26 Team KOOL Green Honda) Started 12th, finished 4th: "We had a good car today. It was really good out of the hairpin and down the front straight, I think that's where I made all of my passes today. But it's tough when you start that far back. We caught a couple of breaks and were able to do it last year (when he won), but not today. Still, there's nothing wrong with fourth today. So we'll take that and go on to Texas."