De Ferran takes over championship lead

Gil de Ferran moved into the lead of the CART Championship Series with his second place finish at Laguna Seca

De Ferran takes over championship lead

The Penske driver followed team-mate Helio Castroneves home in the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey to give himself a six-point cushion over Michael Andretti. The latter lost the series lead after poor strategy left him outside the points.

"We had a good day today, the only problem was on the first stop when I pulled in as Michel Jourdain pulled out," de Ferran explained. "The car was quite good but it would have been tough to pass Helio, he did a great job."

The other title contenders all had bad races. Paul Tracy may have won the last two races but he limped home 12th after spinning in a failed last lap move to snatch eighth from Oriol Servia. That was one place behind Adrian Fernandez, leaving this pair third and fourth in the standings.

Another quietly competitive run to fifth kept Kenny Brack in the hunt, moving him ahead of one-time championship leader Roberto Moreno, who was unimpressed with Brack's Team Rahal team-mate Max Papis.

"Before the corkscrew, Papis made a huge mistake," Moreno said. "He only left me the outside of the track and then he squeezed me right off the circuit, and it's really fast there. If I hadn't lifted off it would've been a huge accident."

Moreno then passed Papis into the final hairpin but slid wide and lost the place on the exit, despite moving across on his rival as they passed the pits. Half a lap later, the frustrated Moreno locked his rear wheels and spun into the tyres in turn six.

Latest addition to the list of title challengers is today's winner Helio Castroneves. A perfect 22-point score for the Brazilian brings him up to seventh overall, just 29 points behind de Ferran with 88 still to be scored in the final four races.

The battle continues on the oval at St Louis in seven days time, a track where Penske is unlikely to enjoy such an advantage. After that, it's off to the streets of Houston and Surfer's Paradise, before the totally unpredictable finale at Roger Penske's California Speedway.



1 Gil de Ferran Penske 132 points
2 Michael Andretti Newman-Haas 126 pts
3 Paul Tracy Team Green 122 pts
4 Adrian Fernandez Patrick 118 pts
5 Kenny Brack Rahal 116 pts
6 Roberto Moreno Patrick 115 pts
7 Helio Castroneves Penske 103 pts
8 Dario Franchitti Team Green 92 pts
9 Jimmy Vasser Ganassi 89 pts
10 Cristiano da Matta PPI 88 pts
11 Juan Montoya Ganassi 85 pts
12 Max Papis Rahal 79 pts

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