USA Wins The Nations Cup
November 30, 2002 | 3:06 P.M. EST
"Admittedly, this is a big surprise but it feels great," said Johnson. "We came here wanting to win, and to have some fun, and we had both. It's a truly awesome feeling."
Four time NASCAR Champion, Jeff Gordon paid tribute to the dominance of Colin Edwards in the Honda Blackbird powered ROC Cars - the 2002 Superbike World Champion won every race.
"He was the key player for us," said Gordon. "Having been here a couple of years ago, he had the experience that helped make a difference. He was just so smooth."
Edwards may have controlled both his heats, and Gordon may have scored a memorable victory over 2002 European Touring Car Champion, Giovanardi, but Johnson's six tenths of a second loss to Travaglia was the most exhilarating contest.
On their way to the Final, the USA eliminated previous winners France (2000) in the Semis and Spain (2001) in the Opening Group Stages.
Team points are scored by each driver in head to head heats in either WRC rally cars or special ROC buggies competing on a unique and unpaved road circuit. The winning team earns the title; "world's fastest nation."
"The Michelin Race of Champions is truly a racer's race," said Herb Johnson, Director of Motorsports, Michelin North America. "The top drivers and riders from around the world, including some of the hottest rising stars, come here to compete," said Johnson. "The idea at the Michelin Race of Champions is to put the emphasis on the drivers and to open them up to different kinds of vehicles and different types of racing. They get to meet and compete with top racers from other parts of the world and to just have fun."
The 27 drivers and riders that competed in the Michelin Race of Champions included CART Champion Cristiano da Matta; former Indy 500 winner Kenny Brack; JJ Lehto; defending Indy 500 champion Helio Castroneves; Fernando Alonso; Renato Travaglia; World Rally Champion Marcus Granholm; and Enduro champion Kari Tiainen.
Now in its fifteenth year, the Race Of Champions was conceived by Michelle Mouton and Fredrick Johnson and has been sponsored by Michelin since 1998.