Vasser beats Montoya in Ganassi one-two

Jimmy Vasser was understandably delighted to score his first win since 1998 by taking victory in the Texaco Havoline Grand Prix of Houston

Vasser beats Montoya in Ganassi one-two

The 1996 champion led home a one-two for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, beating his Formula 1-bound team mate Juan Montoya by 1.9s.

Vasser's last win was at Fontana in October 1998, while Ganassi's only previous one-two finish came courtesy of Alex Zanardi and Vasser at Lexington in August 1996.

"It feels great, but it's been too long!" he said in Victory Lane. "We've been in a position to win a couple since then but it hasn't happened. My guys did a fantastic job on the car today and in the last few laps I was just thinking about how excited my friend Alex Zanardi would be getting commentating on this race for Italian TV!"

Vasser is looking for a new drive in 2001 after being released from his Ganassi contract following a couple of low-key seasons in which he has struggled to match Montoya. His victory today came despite the fact that a qualifying crash had forced him to race his spare car.

Paddock talk at Houston suggested that Formula 3000 champion Bruno Junqueira was a virtual certainty for one of the two vacant Ganassi drives, with F3000 runner-up Nicolas Minassian and Toyota Atlantic champion Buddy Rice vying for the other. Vasser, however, has no concrete plans for 2001 despite rumours linking him with Walker Racing, the planned Zakspeed/Forsythe entry and Mo Nunn's team.

"It's so sweet to win today because I'm leaving the team and I didn't want to leave them on a sour note," said Vasser.

Montoya didn't make it easy for his team-mate, trying hard to pass on the final restart, but he had no regrets about finishing second to Vasser this time.

"I'm so happy for Jimmy for getting a win again," he said. "He's a great guy, a great driver and a great team-mate, he really deserved this.

"I had a go at passing him when the tyres were cold after the final restart but as soon as the tyres warmed up I had nothing for him."

Today's result moves Montoya and Vasser up to sixth and ninth in the standings respectively, both still in with a distant shot at the title.

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