For once, Michael Andretti didn’t have to worry about fuel, and he had a blast.
Shuffled to last place after a bump from rookie Scott Dixon on the first lap of the CART Molson Indy, Andretti took advantage of 11 cautions to keep his fuel tank full and won Sunday for the seventh time in the auto road race’s 16-year history.
“We made four stops in this race,” said Andretti, who won here for the second consecutive time. “We were able to take advantage of the early yellows since I was in the back of the pack and just kept coming in and topping off.
“We knew we were going to be in good shape, so we didn’t have to stretch any of our stops and so I was always able to run at full rich, and that was a big advantage.”
Alex Tagliani was second and Adrian Fernandez third followed by Alex Zanardi and Dixon.
The victory vaulted Andretti past Helio Castroneves into second place in the series standings with 73 points, 11 behind leader Kenny Brack. It also broke a CART record Andretti had shared with Al Unser Jr. for most victories in one event. Unser won Long Beach six times when he raced in CART.
“I was able to race today. It’s the first time I’ve been able to do that in a long time,” Andretti said. “Normally, it’s ‘Save fuel! Save fuel!’ I didn’t have to today, and it was fun.”
Pole-sitter Gil de Ferran, who led the first 49 laps on the 1.7210-mile road course at Exhibition Place, wrecked the right rear of his car on lap 76 in a collision at turn 3 with Cristiano da Matta and was through for the day. That wreck cut the 26-car field in half.
Andretti pulled away to a 2.7-second victory, the 41st of his career, most in CART history.