Honda/Ganassi-Feast At Mid-Ohio
MID-OHIO (August 11, 1996) - Alex Zanardi cleaned house atMid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Sunday's Miller Genuine Draft 200.Zanardi was never seriously challenged for the top spot and onlygave it up briefyly to teammate Jimmy Vasser for pitstops. Thiswin launched Alex into third place in the PPG Cup pointsstandings and he now has 94 points followed by ChristianFittipaldi (93 points) and de Ferran (92 points).
"This is a very good win. It was more work than Portlandbecause I had that Ďredí car [Vasser] behind me the entiretime," said Zanardi, who averaged 104.358 miles per hour in arace with three cautions for 10 laps. "If he tries a move, it isdifficult to block your teammate. Iím very happy he could finishsecond and score a lot of points for the championship."
Jimmy Vasser extended his points lead to 17 (128 points) overAl Unser Jr. (111) who finished 13th and out of the points aftera last-lap incident.
"I didnít have anything for Alex. He was a tick faster allthe way around," Vasser said. "I drove a little conservativelyto save fuel and make sure I got points for the championship.Iíve been up before in the points and then it was back down toone point, so itís good to be up by a few points again, althoughit is not enough. We still have to take them one race at a time.I wonít start counting points until Vancouver."
Also out of the points was Gil de Ferran and dropping tofifth (92) in points who punted Mauricio Gugelmin on the firstlap bringing out the first of three caution periods.
Gugelmin went out of the race with unrepairable suspensiondamage and de Ferran suffered nose damage and hobbled home for17th place, 4 laps down and the last car running in thefield.
In the last 19 laps of the race there were two cautionperiods brought out by incidents and bunching up thefront-runners. The Target/Ganassi drivers were not challengedfor the top two spots, but there was plenty of jockeying forposition behind them.
On lap 65 rookies Mark Blundell and Jan Magnussen gottogether and then on lap 70 Robby Gordon and Hiro Matsushitawent on off-course excursions in separate incidents.
On the final lap rookie Greg Moore and Andre Ribeiro hadcontact and shortly thereafter Unser Jr. and Parker Johnstonetouched wheels and went off for some "agricultural" racing oftheir own. Moore, Ribeiro and Johnstone all scored pointsfinishing 9th, 8th and 12th, respectively.