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Pit strategy helps Brack in Mexico GP

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 18, 2002

MEXICO CITY -- Kenny Brack took a long pit stop early and it paid off late.

Brack used a brief, final pit stop to slip past Dario Franchitti and claim his first victory of the year in the Mexico Grand Prix, the final race of the CART season.

Series champion Cristiano da Matta finished four seconds back and pole-sitter Bruno Junqueira recovered from a bad start to finish third before what organizers said was a CART-record 174,866. CART officials said the race helped them set a season attendance record of almost 2.7-million.

The win put Brack in seventh in the point standings. Junqueira, Brack's Chip Ganassi teammate, finished second in the series.

Confusion in the pits cost Tony Kanaan and Franchitti the lead while Brack and da Matta used deft pit work to leap ahead.

Most drivers pitted at the 53rd lap after a crash by Michael Andretti brought out a yellow flag. Franchitti had been leading but got caught behind cars leaving the pits as Brack slipped out ahead.

Kanaan led 40 laps but lurched away from a pit stop before the fuel nozzle was disengaged. Flames broke out, and four crew members suffered burns and flame inhalation. No one was hospitalized.

Mexican driver Michel Jourdain Jr. will be back next season. He received a sponsorship from a major Mexican retailer, Grupo Gigante. Another Mexican joining CART is Roberto Gonzalez, a 26-year-old veteran of the Indy Lights series who ran Formula 3000 cars in Europe for the past two seasons.

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