Michael Andretti, becoming the master of the restart, squeezed by teammate Christian Fittipaldi with six laps left Sunday to win the rain-marred ITT Automotive Detroit Grand Prix.
For the second race in a row, Andretti used a late restart to make a pass that carried him to victory. Last week at Milwaukee, he passed Al Unser Jr., one of several drivers to crash Sunday on the wet track.This time, with the two-hour time limit allotted to the race running out, Andretti feinted outside, then drove hard to the inside. He steered his Ford-powered Lola past Fittipaldi's on lap 66 of what turned out to be a 72-lap event on the temporary circuit on Detroit's Belle Isle.
Fittipaldi had a lead of almost 3 seconds before the caution flag that set up the decisive restart.
The win was the 33rd for the 33-year-old Andretti, who leads active Indy-car drivers in victories.
"There's not a lot to say," Fittipaldi said. "Mike has won the most Indy-car races of anybody out here. He put a lot of pressure on me and I braked a little late."
The 25-year-old Brazilian, still seeking his first Indy-car victory, finished about six car-lengths behind. He was followed on by Gil de Ferran, Adrian Fernandez and Mark Blundell.
The race, which had been scheduled to go 77 laps, began with rain still pelting down sporadically and the entire 26-car field on rain tires.
That in itself was the cause of some problems, with Goodyear's grooved rain tires considerably better than those offered by Firestone, which only returned to the Indy-car series in 1995 after a 21-year absence.
"These (rain) tires have not been utilized due to lack of inclement weather," said a statement issued by Firestone. "We do know work is needed in this area and we have been developing a new wet tire which will be introduced in the near future."
Meanwhile, when the race began on a very wet track, the top five were on Firestones, with Fittipaldi the fastest Goodyear qualifier in sixth.
Fittipaldi got a great start, slicing through the bunched cars and passing pole-winner Scott Pruett for the lead on the second trip around the 2.1-mile, 14-turn temporary circuit.
Other Goodyear drivers, including Andretti, de Ferran, Unser, Bobby Rahal and Paul Tracy quickly followed Fittipaldi to the front, with only Pruett able to offer any resistance at all.
Jimmy Vasser, who came into the race with a 22-point lead over Unser in the season standings, started 20th and never got into contention. He finished a lap down in 12th, earning one point. That actually increased his lead by one, 98-75, thanks to Unser's misfortune in sliding into a tire barrier on lap 47 while trying to pass teammate Tracy for fifth place.
Andretti's third win of the season - all of them coming in the last four races - kept him third and moved him within four points of Unser with eight of 16 races remaining.