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Penske procession at Laguna Seca.

The fact that the lapped car of Memo Gidley was able to keep pace with the leaders in the final 30 laps is not only testament to the Della Penna team but also to the conservative pace that the leaders were running. Despite Castroneves, De Ferran, Franchitti and fourth placed man Herta being separated by just four seconds, there was never any danger of a passing move being completed.

The main action was behind the impressive Gugelmin at the tail end of the top ten with positions 8-15 separated by just six seconds at the flag. Oriol Servia looked to have the position sown up until Jimmy Vasser barged through at the Andretti hairpin with five laps to go, Vasser went on to secure the place with Servia running dry out of the last hairpin and dropping to 17th.

Patrick Carpentier took ninth after a strong drive from 18th while Christian Fittipaldi inherited tenth from Paul Tracy when the Canadian half spun on the final lap. Points leader Andretti fell to 14th after his precautionary third stop and failed to score for the second time in three races. The American spent the final 20 laps following the second PacWest machine of Blundell and the Team Patrick car of Adrian Fernandez with the Mexican winning the race for the final Championship point after a tough weekend.

The remarkable aspect of the race was the exceptional level of reliability shown by the field with no less than 21 of the 26 starters running at the end meaning that many strong performances went unrewarded including Blundell's gritty drive from 21st and Gidley's strong run from stone last.

With De Ferran's second place giving him a six point advantage at the top of the standings and Andretti's failure to score, the top six in the standings are now separated by just 17 points with four races to go. If the Honda Grand Prix of Monterrey was soporific, it certainly helped set up a title showdown at Fontana in October.



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