Andretti Becomes First 3-Time Fedex Championship Series All Star; Joined On 2001 Team By De Ferran, Brack, Castroneves, Da Matta
DETROIT (December 12, 2001) - Team Motorola driver Michael Andretti, who finished among the top three in the championship for the eighth time in his illustrious career this past season, became the first three-time all-star with his selection to the five-driver 2001 CART FedEx Championship Series All-Star Team announced today.
Andretti is the only driver to be named to the CART FedEx Championship Series All-Star Team every year since the program's inception in 1999 and his latest selection comes courtesy of a third-place finish in the championship during the inaugural season for Team Motorola.
He captured his 41st career win with a dramatic run at Toronto, where an early-race incident dropped him to last in the 26-car field before storming back for one of the greatest comebacks in his 18-year career. It marked the 14th season he has registered at least one win, extending a CART record, and his career victory total ranks first in CART history and third in all-time Champ Car annals.
Andretti, driving a Motorola Honda Reynard, added four podiums to his win at Toronto and had 12 points-paying finishes in 20 starts to finish with 147 championship points. He also ranked seventh in the series in laps led with 108. Andretti concluded the season with 290 career starts, breaking the CART record of 273 established by Al Unser Jr.
"It's an honor to be selected to the CART FedEx Championship Series All-Star team for 2001," Andretti said. "The CART FedEx Championship Series remains one of the most competitive forms of racing today and to be selected as an All-Star team member is a reflection of the effort everyone on Team Motorola put forth during the season. It is also a very special honor to be a member of the All-Star Team since the trophy that goes to the top vote-getter is named for my dad, Mario Andretti."
Andretti was joined on the 2001 CART FedEx Championship Series All-Star Team by two-time series champion Gil de Ferran of Marlboro Team Penske, Kenny Brack (formerly) of Team Rahal, Helio Castroneves of Marlboro Team Penske and Cristiano da Matta of Newman/Haas Racing.
The recipient of the Mario Andretti Trophy, as well as the order of finish with voting totals for each All Star, will be announced at the All-Star Celebration during the soon-to-be-announced CART FedEx Championship Series Sneak Preview 2002. The CART FedEx Championship Series All-Star Team is voted upon by the drivers, a select group of motorsports media and fans.
De Ferran, the 2000 Mario Andretti Trophy recipient, becomes a two-time All Star following his second consecutive FedEx Championship Series title and Vanderbilt Cup. He became only the fourth driver in CART FedEx Championship Series history to capture consecutive titles, joining Rick Mears (1981-82), Bobby Rahal (1986-87) and Alex Zanardi (1997-98).
De Ferran, driving a Marlboro Honda Reynard, earned 199 championship points on the strength of a series-high eight podiums, which included victories in England and Houston, and 15 points-paying finishes in 20 starts overall. He was second in the series with five poles (Toronto, Mid-Ohio, Germany, Houston, Laguna Seca) and had 11 top-three starts in all. He also was third in laps led with 328.
"I was very honored last year to win the Mario Andretti trophy, and I feel the same way about being included on the CART FedEx Championship Series All-Star Team this year," de Ferran said. "I think there are a few things that make this a very special group: the Mario Andretti name - he is one of the drivers who achieved the highest degree of excellence in the history of our sport - and the very knowledgeable group that constitutes the voting panel."
Brack, Castroneves and da Matta are making their inaugural appearances on the CART FedEx Championship Series All-Star Team. All five All Stars utilized Firestone tires, the Official Tire of CART during the 2001 season.
Brack, driving a Shell Ford Lola, was the series leader in three categories en route to a runnerup finish in the championship race with 163 points. He led the series in wins (4), poles (6) and laps led (621). Brack earned wins at Japan, Milwaukee, Chicago and Germany as he scored in 13 of 20 starts. He grabbed pole positions at Mexico, Texas, Milwaukee, Michigan, Road America and England and qualified among the top three 12 times. His 621 laps led rank ninth in CART history for a single season.
"It is quite an honor to be chosen for the 2001 CART FedEx Championship Series All-Star team," said Brack, who moves from Team Rahal to Target Chip Ganassi Racing for the 2002 season. "To me, being a member of the CART All-Star Team means that you are regarded as not only one of the best drivers in CART, but one of the best drivers in the world. That is very special. As a child growing up in Sweden, I always dreamed of being a top race-car driver and it feels great to have achieved this honor. We came so close to winning the championship last year with Team Rahal, and my goal in 2002 is to bring home The Vanderbilt Cup with Target Chip Ganassi Racing. Team Target gives me that opportunity and I'm excited to hit the track this winter in preparation for another title run ... and another year as a member of the CART FedEx Championship Series All-Star Team."
Castroneves drove a Marlboro Honda Reynard to three wins and a fourth-place finish in the championship with 141 points. He scored victories at Long Beach, Detroit and Mid-Ohio and scored championship points in 14 of 20 starts. Castroneves led every lap in his wins from the pole at Long Beach and Detroit en route to finishing second in the series in laps led with 411. His other pole position came at Japan. Castroneves also became the second consecutive CART driver to win the Indianapolis 500, following Juan Montoya's victory in 1999, as he led a top-five sweep by CART drivers in the event's 85th running.
"I'm very excited about being named to the CART FedEx Championship Series All-Star Team for the first time in my career," Castroneves said. "Actually, I'm almost speechless. Last year when the All Stars were standing on stage at the [Sneak Preview All-Star] awards ceremony, I remember thinking that next year maybe that would be me, and now I'm really happy the dream has come true. I also want to thank all of the fans who voted for me and supported me during the 2001 season."
Da Matta, driving a Texaco/Havoline/Kmart Toyota Lola, finished fifth in the series championship with 140 points as he closed the season in a flourish. He opened with a win in the season opener at Monterrey, Mexico and then closed with consecutive victories at Australia and California Speedway. The latter earned him a series-high $1 million prize for the victory. He had five podiums in all and 13 points-paying finishes in 20 starts. He had seven top-five starts, including a season best of second at Monterrey, Portland and California Speedway, and ranked eighth in the series in laps led with 104.
"It's really cool to be on the CART FedEx Championship Series All-Star Team because of the people who did the voting," da Matta said. "They are very knowledgeable about racing and that is what makes this honor even more special. We started the season strong and ended strong, but we struggled in the middle of the season or we would have been a contender for the championship. The entire team - from the engineers to every mechanic - worked very hard and it is a testament to their commitment that I made the CART All-Star Team."
Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (NYSE: MPH) owns, operates and markets the FedEx Championship Series. Former series champions Michael Andretti (1991) and Jimmy Vasser (1996) are among the stars who will battle for the 2002 FedEx Championship Series title on ovals, temporary street circuits and permanent road courses. The 2002 CART FedEx Championship Series season kicks off March 10 at Monterrey, Mexico and the 19-race schedule will be broadcast by new television partners, CBS and Fox Cable Networks Group, including Speedvision/Speed Channel. CART also owns and operates its top development series, the Toyota Atlantic Championship. Learn more about CART's open-wheel racing series at www.cart.com.