De Ferran moves closer to title

Gil de Ferran could clinch the 2000 CART title in Australia in a fortnight

De Ferran moves closer to title

The Brazilian extended his series lead by taking third place at Houston, giving him a 19-point cushion over second-placed Paul Tracy with 44 points available in the remaining races on the streets of Surfer's Paradise and at the ultra-fast California Speedway.

However, for most of the Houston race it looked like he would be in an even more comfortable position, as the Penske driver dominated the early stages from pole position. He led by 13s at one stage but a series of late yellows allowed Ganassi duo Jimmy Vasser and Juan Montoya to make it through the race on just one stop and usurp the Brazilian from the highest steps of the podium.

"We had a great day today," insisted de Ferran, who still took the bonus points for pole position and leading the most laps. "We weren't making the fuel mileage from the beginning so I just had to push all the way because I knew I might have to make an extra stop.

"In the second stint I was just getting quicker and quicker and quicker because the car was so fantastic."

Roberto Moreno's title hopes took a dive when a loose seatbelt forced him to make an emergency pit stop. He finished 11th, which was still better than fellow championship challenger Michael Andretti. The latter lost ground by stalling at his pit stop and was then pushed into a spin by Alex Tagliani.

Adrian Fernandez, Juan Montoya, Kenny Brack, Helio Castroneves and Jimmy Vasser are also still in with a mathematical chance of taking the title, but realistically de Ferran's most likely challenger would have to be Tracy. If the Penske driver can score four more points than the Canadian in Australia then he is virtually assured of the title unless one of the other contenders produces a miraculous late charge.



1 Gil de Ferran Penske 153 points
2 Paul Tracy Green 134 pts
3 Roberto Moreno Patrick 131 pts
4 Michael Andretti Newman-Haas 127 pts
5 Adrian Fernandez Patrick 126 pts
6 Juan Montoya Ganassi 122 pts
7 Kenny Brack Rahal 118 pts
8 Helio Castroneves Penske 117 pts
9 Jimmy Vasser Ganassi 117 pts
10 Cristiano da Matta PPI 100 pts

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