Andretti retirement tightens title chase

Michael Andretti's lead in the CART Championship Series has shrunk to 13 points after he retired from the Motorola 220 with a transmission problem

Andretti retirement tightens title chase

The Newman-Haas driver was running in the top six until forced to pull out on lap 18.

"All of a sudden I felt the drive to the rear wheels go away," he explained. "It's a shame because until we had the problem we were looking good. This hurts a lot."

With Gil de Ferran also hitting trouble early on, Roberto Moreno has moved back into second in the standings. The Brazilian finished fourth at Road America despite losing third gear.

"It's fantastic," said the Patrick Racing driver. "We had a great strategy plan, saving fuel in the beginning and going a couple of laps further than anyone else.

"Then we lost third gear and I thought it was all over, but the guys told me to just drive like I had at Long Beach (when he also nursed a failing gearbox to the flag) and it was okay."

Andretti's second bad race in a row has allowed the title battle to close up once more. Just 25 points now cover the top six, and even ninth placed Jimmy Vasser believes he still has a chance despite trailing Andretti by 47 points with six races remaining.

"If we start getting back on a roll then a top three position in the points is a possibility," he said after finishing fifth at Elkhart Lake. "If we get a couple of wins then we could still take first position."

Particularly worth watching in the final six races will be South American trio Cristiano da Matta, Helio Castroneves and Juan Montoya. Although they currently sit only seventh, eighth and tenth overall respectively, these three have generally been the fastest drivers for the last third of the season, either finishing on the podium or retiring. If they can find the consistency to match their stunning pace, then any of these three could still figure in the fight for the championship.

However, after retiring from his third race in a row, pre-season title favourite Dario Franchitti now appears to be out of contention. He is 13th in the championship, a full 67 points behind Andretti.



1 Michael Andretti 125 points
2 Roberto Moreno 112
3 Gil de Ferran 106
4 Adrian Fernandez 103
5 Kenny Brack 102
6 Paul Tracy 100
7 Cristiano da Matta 82
8 Helio Castroneves 81
9 Jimmy Vasser 78
10 Juan Montoya 77

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