Tagliani spinout gives Fernandez win in Rio 200
Just when it looked like Canadian rookie Alex Tagliani would take the Rio 200 for the first victory of his CART career, he spun out with nine laps remaining Sunday, giving Adrian Fernandez the win.
Polesitter Tagliani, a native of Lachenaie, Que., was leading the pack when he spun out entering a turn, causing Kenny Brack, Dario Franchitti, Michael Andretti and series points leader Paul Tracy of Toronto to swerve.
Fernandez assumed the lead, and drove his Ford-Reynard to a victory at the 1.864 mile Emerson Fittipaldi Speedway. He covered 108 laps in one hour, 37 minutes and 12.490 seconds.
It was the first victory this year for Fernandez and the sixth of his career. The 35-year-old Mexican had won twice in each of the last two seasons for car owner Pat Patrick.
Jimmy Vasser, driving a Toyota-Lola, wound up second. Tracy, who sustained slight damage to his Honda-Reynard as he tried to avoid Tagliani, was third.
Tagliani spun again on lap 107, bringing out a caution that gave Fernandez an uncontested drive to the checkered flag.
The race also began under a yellow flag, after rookie Oriol Servia's car lost traction. The car snapped around, making contact with the tire barrier.
Vasser's teammate, series champion Juan Montoya, left the race early due to an engine problem.
Tagliani held the lead until he pitted on the 36th lap, then took it back again from Fernandez when he pitted on the 39th.
On lap 57, most lead-lap cars pitted, but Tagliani stayed out until the 75th, when he gave the lead to Brack. But Tagliani went back into the lead when Brack pitted 19 laps later.