Frankly Franchitti

That was a good day at the office! It was a good weekend. We missed the first session because of the problems with the new spacer that CART mandated with the pop-off valve. Then we went out in the second session, and we were quickest.

Frankly Franchitti

The car, straight off the truck, was very, very good. I was very comfortable with it. I've always gone pretty well at Detroit, and this year the car was really how I like to drive it. A really good balance, and I was comfortable driving it.

In qualifying, it was just traffic, traffic, traffic. I had one semi-sensible lap, and then on my second set of tyres I had a clear run, and I was halfway through it and I was six tenths up on the pole time, but unfortunately my team mate Paul Tracy went off and they threw the red flags. A bit of a bummer! I'm sure we had a pole lap going, but it wasn't meant to be. We ended up fourth.

We might not have had the starting position, but I was really confident with the car. The start was terrible. There's no way they should have given the green flag at the start - it was single file. But again, it's one of those things. Carpentier made a great move around the outside of me on the first corner.

It's funny: I was pissed off that I'd been passed, but I was also sitting there thinking 'fair play to you, great move'. Nobody likes getting passed, but he pulled off a ballsy move. So I was running fifth and everything was running fine, and out of turn 2 I got a good run on Carpentier, and the engine just cut.

The whole thing just stopped - dashboard lights, dashboard, the whole thing, nothing. It must have been for about a second, but it really felt like a lifetime. Luckily it started again, but by then Jimmy (Vasser) had got by me, so I was down to sixth.

I passed Jimmy back into turn 5 which isn't a normal passing place, but the car was really quick there. I spoke to Jimmy after and he said he didn't expect it there, but that's probably the area where I gained the most time all day. I was quick through the turns 3-7 complex. You can't really pass anybody there, but that's where I was fastest.

Then we had the pit stops and Carpentier got out ahead of Gil, so I was there putting the pressure on him. Gil made one mistake, and I got alongside, but he was very quick. The only place I thought I could pass either Gil or Helio - and Carpentier to be honest - was into turn 3 if I got a good run. I got a run on Gil, but it wasn't enough, and then he had the same problem as I did I think, and his engine cut out as we went past the start/finish line. I almost rammed him. Luckily I got out from behind him quickly enough, and so we were third.

Everything was going fine. I closed down Carpentier, then we had a yellow. And on the restart I got alongside him into turn 3, but he kept his place by going around the outside, and basically I was in the wrong gear, and I was also leaned out on the fuel, so I got on the power and there was nothing there! Then we had another yellow, and I knew I had to make it stick this time. So there it was.

At the next restart I got a cracking run out of turn 2, slipstreamed him, then got down the inside into turn 3. Everything was going great until I tried to turn in! All the marbles were still on the tyres from the yellow laps... I got it turned in, but I used all the road, and he was out there on the outside and then some. I got a bit sideways coming off the corner, and I guess that created all sorts of mayhem behind me, which wasn't my intention at all.

I didn't want him to lose half as many positions as he did, because he drove a great race all day and he needs a bit of luck. He's one of the few guys out there at the moment that's had worse luck than me this year!

There were about five laps to go, and I caught up with Helio, but his car was very, very good. We were running the same sort of lap times. He was as quick as me through turns 1 and 2 and down into 3. But then through 4, 5 and 6, the twisty bits, I was a little bit quicker, but it didn't really matter because I couldn't pass him there. He didn't make any mistakes and he drove a great race and really unless he made a mistake, I wasn't going to pass him.

It's nice to get a result. I've had the car all year to win races, apart from Long Beach. So it was nice to finally get a decent result, and hopefully that will be the first of many.

I must admit I felt sorry for my team mate Paul Tracy. He had a pretty miserable weekend, and ended up qualifying 23rd. He charged through and took a gamble on stopping out of sequence, and I think he was running fifth on the last lap when he ran out of fuel. That's a pretty tough break.

I was listening to Radio Le Mans, in between the CART sessions, staying up to date with what was happening in France. It was very good. I was watching the race on Speedvision, but listening to the radio through my computer. It was funny hearing 'Lorenzo Fosterini', who I know from my DTM days.... They did a great job.

I was cheering for the MG guys, Kevin McGarrity, Mark Blundell and my former Team Green team mate Jonny Kane, and until the cars broke they were doing pretty well. I'd love to do that race at some time. But it's Portland this weekend, and we're on a roll and that's all there is to think about at the moment.

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