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Fernandez survives Surfers carnage.

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.

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.



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