From the very start, Dario Franchitti figured it was Juan Montoya's race to lose. As it turned out, he did. Franchitti took the lead when Montoya made a late pit stop today and held on to win the mistake-filled Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit.
"I told the guys on the radio it was a pretty ugly way to win a race," Franchitti said in his rich Scottish brogue. "But we'll take it any way we can."
It was the second victory of the season for Franchitti, a preseason favorite after three wins during his breakout 1998 season. The win vaulted him into first place in the CART FedEx Championship standings with 136 points, five ahead of Montoya, the sensational rookie who had a 13-point lead going into the race.
"But it doesn't mean that much to be leading at this point," Franchitti said. "If you're leading after Fontana [the season-ending race], that's what it's all about."
Paul Tracy, Franchitti's teammate on the Team Kool Green racing team, finished second, Greg Moore was third and Michael Andretti was fourth over the 2.3-mile, 14-turn raceway on Belle Isle, in the middle of the Detroit River.
Numerous wrecks caused 23 laps of the scheduled 75-lap race to be run under the caution flag. As a result, race officials decided to limit the competition to 2 hours, so only 71 laps were completed. Only 17 of the 26 cars that started were able to finish.
Montoya led by 15.5 seconds before pitting on Lap 59. When he got back on the track, Franchitti had the lead and Montoya was running eighth. Franchitti now has won his last two races on temporary street circuits.