CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Dec. 12, 2002)—Team USA, behind an undefeated performance by World Superbike champion Colin Edwards, captured the Nation’s Cup championship in Gran Canaria over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Team USA defeated Italy 3-1 in the final with Edwards scoring two of those victories.
“We were counting on Colin to score some points the whole day,” said Jimmie Johnson who joined four-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon to round out the team. “We didn’t tell him that, but Jeff and I knew that a strong performance by Colin would give us a shot.
“He was smooth all day and hardly made a mistake.”
Edwards defeated 250 cc Moto GP champion Marco Melandri in the final to give Team USA a 1-0 lead.
“I competed here a couple of years ago,” Edwards said. “We just wanted to win and we were awful. This time we came just to have some fun—and we won.”
Gordon extended the lead to 2-0 after nipping European touring car champion Fabrizio Giovanardi by 0.15 seconds, followed by Johnson, the team’s “dirt specialist,” who fell to World Rally driver Renato Travaglia by a mere 0.65 seconds.
Edwards then clinched the championship with his second victory over Melandri.
In the semifinals, Team USA defeated France with Gordon rising to the occasion and defeating Formula 3000 champion Sebastian Bourdais in the final race, giving the Americans a 3-2 victory. Edwards once again led the way with two victories while Johnson lost his only race.
“Jimmie probably has the worst record among us and, yet, he was probably the best driver on our team,” Gordon said. “He had a tough draw facing guys who race these types of cars in these types of conditions every weekend. But he was putting up some great lap times and giving those rally drivers all they could handle.
“I’m glad we participated in this event. It was a lot of fun and it was cool racing for our country. I’m just glad we didn’t make fools of ourselves.”