Fontana 1999 Marlboro 500 - The Race Sunday Race

The cars line up in starting grid order on the pit lane.

11:47 Fujifilm Nexia A200 SS1/350 CF11.0

The California Speedway, Fontana
FedEx Delivering on Sunday

Federal Express trucks do a lap of the circuit. No new lap records are set, but they all make it round safely. And on a Sunday too!

11:56 Fujifilm Nexia A200 SS1/350 CF11.0

Scott Pruett brings the field round Turn 4 in proper formation and onto the front straight for the start of the 1999 Marlboro 500.

12:10 Fujifilm Nexia A200 SS1/1000 CF5.6

The Start
Leaders Emerging

By the end of the first lap Scott has already relinquished the lead, with Max Papis, Michael Andretti, Juan Montoya, Jimmy Vasser and Dario Franchitti all streaming past him.

12:10 Fujifilm Nexia A200 SS1/1000 CF5.6

Andretti makes it past Papis on lap two. A couple of laps later the first yellow flag comes out as Richie Hearn loses traction exiting Turn 2. The car slides across the apron grass and makes hard contact with the inside wall on the back straight. The driver is uninjured in the incident but the car is destroyed

12:19 Fujifilm Nexia A200 SS1/1500 CF5.6

Andretti Takes the Lead
Montoya Up To Second

The race restarts on lap nine with Montoya getting past Papis for second place. But in an almost identical slide to that of Hearn, Greg Moore breaks loose in Turn 2. This time, however, the car slides across the apron with minimal contact to the ground. There is very heavy impact with the inside wall, inflicting fatal injuries on the driver.

12:37 Fujifilm Nexia A200 SS1/1500 CF5.6

On Lap 28 Alex Barron slides up the banking in Turn 4, making contact against the wall with the rear of the car. The car slides back down the banking and into the infield grass on the front stretch. Fortunately Alex is OK and  climbs out of the car under his own power.

12:40 Fujifilm Nexia A200 SS1/1500 CF5.6

Barron Bounces Off the Wall
First Major Pit Stop

Under the ensuing yellow, all but three of the cars pit for fuel and tires.

12:43 Fujifilm Nexia A200 SS1/500 CF9.5

Montoya wins the race off pit road, followed by Paul Tracy, Andretti, Papis and Franchitti. Montoya rejoins in third place behind Michel Jourdain Jr. and Dennis Vitolo.

12:44 Fujifilm Nexia A200 SS1/500 CF9.5

Montoya Out First
Jourdain In the Lead!

The race restarts on lap 35 and Jourdain manages to keep the lead for two laps.

12:49 Fujifilm Nexia A200 SS1/1000 CF5.6

With Montoya being held up by Vitolo, Tracy and Andretti are able to get by. On lap 37 Tracy takes the lead. However, in a couple of laps Andretti has caught him and proceeds to lead for over 30 green laps. Vitolo gradually slips back to 15th, pitting under green on lap 40.

12:50 Fujifilm Nexia A200 SS1/1000 CF5.6

Tracy Gets Ahead
Helio On Track

Meanwhile Helio Castro-Neves works his way up from 14th, finding himself second before Papis when Andretti pits under green on lap 71, has a fire and is forced to retire. Castro-Neves continues to have a good race until lap 110, when the engine blows and he too is out.

13:09 Fujifilm Nexia A200 SS1/1500 CF5.6

On lap 85 Dennis Vitolo spins at Turn 4 and slides backwards down the pit road entrance, bringing out a yellow flag.

13:17 Fujifilm Nexia A200 SS1/1500 CF5.6

Unconventional Pit Entry
Vitolo Wants to Give Up Smoking

Not content with that, a fire breaks out at the back of the car as it rolls to a halt. Thanks for some neat photos, Dennis! (Now you understand why we've been following his progress.)

Of course, he doesn't let a little thing like a fire stop him: he gets going again and is still running at the end of the race, albeit 15 laps behind the winner.

13:17 Fujifilm Nexia A200 SS1/1500 CF5.6

Castro-Neves' exit provides another opportunity for the front-runners to pit under yellow. By now Papis has inherited the lead, but as he enters pit road he nearly spins the car, falling down to seventh before he can regain control. This leaves Tracy in the lead after the pit stop, followed by Vasser, Montoya, Adrian Fernandez, and Mauricio Gugelmin.

13:38 Fujifilm Nexia A200 SS1/1500 CF5.6

Tracy Back Out Front
Montoya's Turn

On lap 122, Montoya passes Tracy to take first place and Gugelmin moves up from fifth to third.

13:47 Fujifilm Nexia A200 SS1/700 CF5.6

Paul Tracy pulls off on lap 141 with electrical problems after having run no lower than fourth for the last 100 laps.

13:58 Fujifilm Nexia A200 SS1/1500 CF6.7

Tracy Out
Papis Pits

With over 100 laps out front, Max Papis gained the extra championship point for most laps led. By lap 197 he has been comfortably in the lead for 33 laps, but comes in under green, handing the lead back to Christian Fittipaldi.

14:33 Fujifilm Nexia A200 SS1/1000 CF5.6

However, two laps later and still under green conditions, Fittipaldi enters the pit road ahead of Montoya. Montoya makes it out first, but they are now several cars back in the field.

14:35 Fujifilm Nexia A200 SS1/1500 CF5.6

Fittipaldi and Montoya Next
Blundell Out

Mark Blundell stalls at the bottom of Turn 3 and returns to the pits to retire with an electrical problem. Most of the  lead cars have just pitted, but this is a crucial moment for Adrian Fernandez who sneaks back in under the yellow to top off with fuel without losing a lap.

14:38 Fujifilm Nexia A200 SS1/1000 CF5.6

On the restart at lap 207 Papis and Montoya exchange places for a while, but ultimately Max holds on. By lap 213 Fittipaldi manages to get by Montoya and they stabilize in this configuration for some time.

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Papis and Montoya Dicing
Vasser Pits

With no further yellows, the leaders are forced to come in for splash-and-go refueling, starting with Papis on lap 237. This hands the lead to Fittipaldi, but he does the same a lap later. 

15:00 Fujifilm Nexia A200 SS1/1500 CF5.6

Vasser comes in from third place later the same lap, but despite the quick exit returns a lap down. Note the flags are now flying at half mast as a mark of respect for Greg Moore. However, none of the drivers discover the news until the race ends.

15:01 Fujifilm Nexia A200 SS1/1500 CF5.6

Half Mast
Fernandez Leads the Crucial Final Laps

When Montoya pits on lap 240, he hands over the lead to Fernandez. Gugelmin behind him also tried to stretch it to the end, but was running so lean that all the other lead lap cars were able to pass him.

15:04 Fujifilm Nexia A200 SS1/500 CF5.6

Adrian Fernandez was able to take the checkered flag without a serious challenge. Here we see his victory lap as the other drivers gather round to congratulate him. Montoya finishes fourth, with enough championship points to equal Franchitti (who finished two laps down in ninth). Having won more races, Juan Montoya earns the title.

15:09 Fujifilm Nexia A200 SS1/500 CF5.6

Well Done, Adrian!

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