IndyCar » 25 June 2000
Castroneves makes it seven from seven.
The only other major changes in the top ten had occurred when Servia took advantage of Takuya Kurosawa accidentally blocking Moreno to snatch seventh and when Tracy lunged down the inside of Carpentier around the back of the circuit to take ninth.
As the race progressed into its second half Montoya was able to stabilise the gap between himself and Castroneves at two seconds although behind them, the race for third had come alive.
Franchitti had been struggling with his car for some time, finding that it had developed an alarming tendency to turn right whenever it wanted to. De Ferran noticed the Scotsman struggling and was swiftly past into third while Fittipaldi and Papis were soon harrying the Team Green driver. By lap 50 both had forced their way past Franchitti who was now losing three seconds a lap to Montoya.
Montoya had now begun to stretch the field somewhat, he has pulled out a four second advantage on Castroneves, who in-turn was well clear of his team-mate. Papis and Fittipaldi were several seconds further adrift of the second Penske. Franchitti was on his own in sixth, still fighting his evil car, but was being caught by a tremendous scrap for seventh involving Servia, Moreno, Tracy and Carpentier. Andretti was a little further back in eleventh but recovering well from his penalty while Alex Tagliani held the final points scoring position. An off-form Vasser came next under increasing pressure from Michel Jourdain Jr in a battle for thirteenth while Tarso Marques in the Swift headed the tail-enders. That number included both PacWest machines, after his spin Blundell had dropped to 18th, one place ahead of his team-mate who had been an early pit visitor with engine problems.
As the race approached its most critical period, the second round of pit-stops, Montoya kept the gap steady at around 4.5 seconds to Castroneves who now had De Ferran and Fittipaldi right with him. Montoya's Lola-Toyota was performing well on worn tyres and a light fuel load which enabled him to ease off slightly in an effort to save fuel.
Franchitti meanwhile had diagnosed his problem as a jammed brake disc in the suspension but was grimly holding onto sixth. Behind him Moreno grew tired of sitting in the queue and took a lunge at Servia. The move was fractionally mistimed and Moreno lost momentum allowing Tracy to get a run off the turn and move ahead. However the man on the move was Papis who had conserved his tyres and, now free of Franchitti, was rapidly closing on Fittipaldi.
On lap 56 Franchitti ducked into the pits to take on fuel and tyres and to have the debris removed from his car. With no replacement duct on, Franchitti would have to deal with a wildly inconsistent car under brakes, no mean feat around this cramped circuit.
Both Penske's came in on lap 57, returning to the track as one although for De Ferran, the pit-lane was filled with peril, for as he was leaving his stall, Tracy was arriving in the stall next-door. Somehow contact was avoided although Tracy was unfortunate to clip one of his crewmen as he took evasive action. This enabled Fittipaldi and Papis to close right up on De Ferran as they rejoined the circuit, a little way behind Castroneves.
Montoya's late economy run enabled him to run for an extra lap before pitting, once again his Ganassi crew turning him round in quick order which allowed him to maintain his lead.
Moreno now led for a lap, the Brazilian again making his fuel last longer than anyone else, but when he made his stop, normal service was resumed.
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