In Elkhart Lake, Wis., a broken gearbox ended Juan Montoya's brilliant run and helped Christian Fittipaldi to his first CART victory.
Sensational rookie Montoya, who still leads the series points after 10 of 20 races, jumped to the lead when the 55-lap race was restarted after a pair of crashes brought out a red flag during an aborted start.
The 23-year-old Colombian was totally in charge, consistently running the fastest laps on the track until he began to experience shifting problems midway through the race.
Montoya had built a lead of more than 11.5 seconds by Lap 27, but he said his gearshift jumped from fifth to first and sent him spinning through Turn 5. The youngster with the amazing reflexes managed to keep his Reynard-Honda running and in the lead by 6.959 seconds.
From then on, the problem got worse as Montoya somehow held his lead until the gearbox gave up midway through Lap 49, giving the lead to the 28-year-old Fittipaldi, a Brazilian in his fifth CART season.
"The car was brilliant," Montoya said. "With that problem, we would have beaten them by ages."
"I could see I was catching him a lot under braking," said Fittipaldi, whose first win came in his 71st start. "I knew something was wrong, but I didn't know what. I just tried to keep my pace and stay consistent."
When asked about his failure to reach Victory Lane for so long, the nephew of longtime racing star Emerson Fittipaldi said, "Don't even remind me. I went through some very rough years, but my team has been very supportive all the time."