Adrian Fernandez benefited from one of the most action packed CART races of the year to take his second 2000 victory and move to within five points of Gil De Ferran's points lead.

Adrian Fernandez drove from 17th on the grid to take victory in the tenth annual Honda Indy 300 at Surfers Paradise while Championship leader Gil De Ferran was eliminated in a first corner accident that ended the title hopes of defending Champion Juan Montoya.

Montoya, on pole position, appeared to squeeze De Ferran into the outside wall as the field approached the first chicane and as the two braked, contact was made and Montoya was pitched across the track and into the wall. The Target/Chip Ganassi Lola-Toyota slewed back into the path of the on-coming field where De Ferran gave the car a good clout and terminally damaged his suspension.

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Also out on the spot was third place starter Dario Franchitti who was tagged from behind by Jimmy Vasser and pushed into the wall and despite Montoya's car being stranded in the middle of the track everyone else managed to avoid the Colombian.

Emerging from the chaos ahead of the field was Paul Tracy who was able to scramble through the chicane untroubled as everyone else checked up to avoid the carnage. Tracy led the pack for the next ten laps while Michael Andretti and Jimmy Vasser completed the top three. Christian Fittipaldi ran fourth in the early stages after overcoming a stubborn Tony Kanaan who rounded out the top five.

Tracy's lead lasted until lap twelve when he had his throttle stick open at Turn Three and was forced down the escape road. Andretti took over at the front while several drivers, including Kenny Brack, Alex Tagliani and Max Papis, all chose to take advantage of the caution flag and make an early stop for fuel.

The race then effectively became split into two with Andretti, Fittipaldi and Vasser leading one strategy and Brack, Tagliani, Fernandez and Alex Barron leading the other.

The battle for the lead on the track continued to go Andretti's way as he fended off every challenge that Vasser made although the Newman-Haas driver was not able to make a clear break.

Andretti and Fittipaldi both pitted on lap 24 and despite their stops both being faultless, the extra lap that Vasser was able to squeeze out of his fuel tank paid dividends and the American was able to scramble out ahead of the two black Lola's as the race reached the 30 lap mark.

As those on their scheduled pit strategy came in, the consistent Kenny Brack took the lead ahead of Tagliani and the particularly impressive Barron who was giving the #19 Dale Coyne owned Lola-Ford its best run of the year by far. Fernandez held down a watchful fourth ahead of the recovering Tracy and Shinji Nakano who was putting in his second consecutive strong street course run. Mark Blundell looked good in seventh place after being bumped down to last on the opening tour while Roberto Moreno and Vasser rounded out the top ten at the 30-lap mark.

Brack, Barron and Fernandez all pitted on lap 36 but Tagliani tried to eek out an extra lap from his tank and it would cost him dear as the Player's Forsythe Reynard-Ford rolled to a halt on the back stretch. As Tagliani rolled to a halt Blundell, who emerged from the pits just behind twelfth place Max Papis, also found himself off the prepared surface when the Italian turned in on the Englishman as the PacWest man lunged down the inside at Turn Three. Blundell lost nearly a lap but was able to continue.

Vasser's great pit stop put him in the lead when everything settled down although Andretti was less than two seconds behind and looking comfortable with Fittipaldi dutifully following his team-mate in third ahead of Cristiano Da Matta and Brack.

Sadly Andretti's late season run of bad luck returned to haunt him and as the American charged down the back straight on lap 38 the engine expired and sent the rear of the car up in flames, extinguishing Andretti's title hopes.

Fittipaldi's chances of a maiden 2000 victory lasted just ten laps longer before he ran wide at the Turn Five chicane and was forced out of contention. Roberto Moreno was another to make contact with the wall at the 40 lap mark while CART debutant Jason Bright ran well until the tyre wall caught him out on lap 44.

Taking advantage of the caution period thrown for Moreno's accident, everyone chose to make their final stops and with less fuel to take on board Fernandez, Barron and Brack led the field out of the pits while Vasser was relegated to seventh behind Papis, Tracy, and Da Matta.

When the green flag fell on lap 48 there was chaos once again at the first chicane as Tracy nudged Papis off line where the Italian spun and clouted the wall. Thankfully everyone scraped their way through with Oriol Servia sprinting through the melee to take fourth place away from Tracy as the Canadian recovered.

Half way round that lap Tracy was able to make a move on Servia coming out of Turn Five and as the two headed down to the fast left-right/left-right kink on the back stretch, Servia clipped the right rear of Tracy's car and sent the Canadian nose first into the outside wall and out of the race.

The fighting for fourth position allowed the front three to break away and Fernandez held his lead until the two hour mark when the race was called, six laps short of the scheduled 65. The Mexican's first win since Rio De Janeiro was his 16th points finish in the last 17 events and moved him to within five points of De Ferran at the top of the points standings.

However the drama did not end there for Alex Barron challenged Fernandez strongly in the closing stages and was looking good for Dale Coyne's best ever result as a team-owner when his engine died with five laps remaining. The crowd sighed in dismay as the young American pulled to the side of the track and allowed Brack to take up the gauntlet.

Brack tried to get the win but ultimately fell just three tenths of a second short of his first CART career victory. Still, his smooth and consistent year has kept him in the title chase right up until the final round and he is now tied with Paul Tracy for third place overall and is 19 points behind De Ferran.

Vasser came through to complete the podium after picking off the disabled Servia in the closing laps although his third place was not enough to realistically keep him in the title hunt. The veteran American is now tied for fifth in the standings with Roberto Moreno, 22 points behind Moreno with just 22 left available.

Cristiano Da Matta put in another strong run to take fourth place ahead of Patrick Carpentier and Helio Castroneves who both had a comparatively quiet day while Michel Jourdain Jr tied his best career finish with seventh place and Tony Kanaan kept up his strong late season charge with eighth.

Servia struggled home in ninth after a very eventful race while Mauricio Gugelmin completed the top ten ahead of his delayed team-mate Mark Blundell who couldn't quite get past 'Big Mo' in the closing laps. Luiz Garcia Jr completed the points scorers in his Arciero Project Reynard-Mercedes on a day where all five Ilmor engined cars finished in the points.

Tarso Marques was a lapped 13th and the last classified finisher on a day where the destination of the CART title was thrown in many different directions before finally being placed at the door of Adrian Fernandez who took advantage in the best way possible.

Roll on Fontana!