Sunday, June 02, 2002

Green wants wins in Indy and Milwaukee

AP Motorsports Writer

        WEST ALLIS, Wis. — Barry Green wants his trio of drivers to concentrate on winning Sunday's Miller Lite 250 while he remains focused on the disputed finish of the Indianapolis 500.

        Green, who fields cars in the CART FedEx Series for Paul Tracy, Dario Franchitti and Michael Andretti, is still convinced Tracy beat former CART star Helio Castroneves last Sunday in the rival Indy Racing league's biggest event.

        Tracy passed Castroneves on the next-to-last lap of the race. The question is whether the pass took place before or after the caution lights lit up around the 2 1/2-mile oval following a two-car crash.

        Race officials took nearly six hours to look at data and videos before posting the results with Castroneves as the winner. A protest by Green was heard and turned down on Monday by Brian Barnhart, IRL's vice president of operations and the chief steward of the 500-mile race.

        “I said straight after the race that if I had facts I would protest,” Green said Saturday at the Milwaukee Mile. “I protested. Since the protest I have said that if anyone could show me I was second place I would go away, and would congratulate (Roger) Penske on his first place. No one has shown me those facts.

        “In fact, the deeper we dig, I think, the more positive I am about the facts I have that we are in first place.”

        Green was unwilling, however, to say for sure he will file an appeal with the IRL by the 6 p.m. EDT deadline on Monday.

        “I've got to be very careful (because) I have to consider my team here,” Green said. “This team is focused on winning the CART championship and along the way I said "Oh, by the way, could you help me win the Indy 500?' They went out there and they did a fantastic job. Three cars in that race, three of them finished, one of them we believe won.

        “I can't come up here and continually talk about our arguments that are ongoing and about the 500. These guys have to focus, and I want them to focus on winning. ... I've got three cars in this race and my team better stay focused on this race.”

        Tracy was certainly focused Saturday, qualifying second to pole-winner Adrian Fernandez. Franchitti qualified ninth in the 19-car field, while Andretti, a five-time Milwaukee winner, was a disappointing 13th.

        Fernandez, who has been the fastest driver here since practice began Friday morning, nearly hit the wall on the first of his two qualifying laps, but came back with a lap of 167.533 mph that barely knocked Tracy's 167.314 off the top spot.

        A grinning Tracy shrugged and said, “I just got beat out on the last lap again.”

        He was obviously pleased with his performance, though, putting the Indy situation to the back of his mind.

        “It hasn't been too difficult to concentrate on our job here,” Tracy said. “Barry just keeps telling me to let him handle the business and just do my job. That's really what I've been focusing on.”

        The Canadian driver began the season with finishes of eighth and seventh, but fell back to 15th after a 19th-place finish in Japan. He now trails teammate Franchitti, the series leader, by 23 points with 17 events remaining.

        “I feel like we're starting to gain some momentum in the championship, even if it doesn't really show in the points,” Tracy said. “We're going to go out tomorrow and try to win another race.”

        Meanwhile, Green said he will also discuss the Indy situation with his team sponsors before doing anything else about the appeal process.

        “That will wait until Monday,” he said. “There is no reason not to wait until Monday. I am far better prepared today than I was yesterday. I was far better prepared yesterday than I was the day before. So I will wait until Monday to make that decision. That's what I've told the IRL and nothing has changed.”


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