From the start, Dario Franchitti figured it was Juan Montoya's race to lose. As it turned out, he did.
Franchitti took the lead when Montoya made a late pit stop Sunday and held on to win the mistake-filled Grand Prix of Detroit.
"I told the guys on the radio it was a pretty ugly way to win a race," Franchitti said. "But we'll take it any way we can."
It was the second victory of the season for Franchitti, a preseason favorite after three wins during his breakout 1998 season. The win vaulted him into first place in the CART standings with 136 points, five ahead of Montoya, the rookie who had a 13-point lead.
"But it doesn't mean that much to be leading at this point," Franchitti said. "If you're leading after Fontana (the season finale), that's what it's all about."
Paul Tracy, Franchitti's teammate on the Team Kool Green racing team, finished second, Greg Moore was third and Michael Andretti fourth over the 2.3-mile, 14-turn raceway on Belle Isle, in the middle of the Detroit River.
Numerous wrecks caused 23 laps of the scheduled 75-lap race to be run under caution. As a result of the delays, race officials decided to limit the competition to two hours, so only 71 laps were completed.
Only 17 of the 26 cars that started finished.
The most serious of the wrecks happened in Turn 3 of the 28th lap when Patrick Carpentier and Mauricio Gugelmin collided during a restart. Gugelmin's car rolled over and, in the process, one of his tires struck Carpentier's cockpit.
Both cars ended up in a gravel pit, and Carpentier was taken to Detroit Receiving Hospital for X-rays after complaining of neck and lower-back pain.
Cristiano da Matta's car was destroyed after bumping Al Unser Jr. and crashing into the wall just past Turn 2 on the 66th lap. Da Matta walked away unhurt, but things became chaotic after that.
AUTOLITE NATIONALS: Doug Kalitta defended his title, defeating Tony Schumacher in NHRA's Top Fuel at Sonoma, Calif.
Kalitta covered the quarter-mile in 4.615 seconds at 315.96 mph for his second career victory. It was Kalitta's third straight final.
Schumacher, trying for the first win of his career, posted a 5.023 at 216.17.
Whit Bazemore and Jim Yates also were pro category winners. Bazemore scored his first Funny Car victory of the season, posting a 4.963 at 301.74 over the quarter-mile for his sixth career victory.
Yates claimed his second Pro Stock victory of the season and third at Sears Point Raceway. He posted a 6.982 at 197.48 for his 22nd career win.