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Happy Father's Day--Mario Andretti Beats Son in a Photo Finish

June 16, 1986| Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. — Mario Andretti caught his son, Michael, who had run out of fuel, at the finish line Sunday for the closest win in Indy-car history in the Budweiser Portland 200.

Michael Andretti appeared to have his third victory in five Indy-car races this season wrapped up as he toured the final lap in the 104-lap race.

But he ran out of fuel and slowed down on the final straightaway, allowing his father to edge him at the finish. The margin of victory was .07 seconds, breaking the old record for closest finish of .14 seconds, set when Mario Andretti won the Michigan 500 in 1984.

"I just ran out of gas," Michael Andretti said. "I started running out of gas the last two laps. Happy Father's Day, Dad."

Al Unser Jr. finished a close third, just behind the Andrettis.

"I feel sorry for Michael, but after all it is Father's Day," said Mario, who had not won a race since last year's Portland 200.

"I've been blessed with a lot of great moments in my career," Mario said. "But this has to be one of the greatest because . . . blood is thicker than water. It's something that's so special because the odds of this happening are so slim. How sweet it is."

Michael Andretti had taken the lead after colliding with leader Danny Sullivan on the 81st lap, knocking Sullivan's car into the wall. Sullivan was not injured.

The crash came as the younger Andretti tried to pass Sullivan through a series of turns on the narrow, 1.915-mile Portland International Raceway course.

The collision shredded the right front tire of Michael Andretti's Cosworth-powered March, forcing him into the pits. By the time he returned, his one-minute lead over his father had shrunk to 20 seconds, and Mario continued to close the gap all the way to the finish.

Michael, who started the $600,000 race in the No. 2 position, had charged into the lead at the start, but lost first place to Sullivan when both of them made a pit stop about 70 laps through the race.

Mario Andretti, who started in the seventh position, earned more than $60,000 for his first-place finish. He averaged 107.759 m.p.h. in his Cosworth-powered Lola.

Michael Andretti leads the Championship Auto Racing Teams PPG point standings by 13 points over Tom Sneva as a result of his second-place finish. Mario Andretti is third with 47 points.

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