Notes and Quotes from Championship Auto Racing Teams, May 5, 1999 PacWest Racing Group driver Mark Blundell was kept overnight for observation at St. Joseph University Hospital in St. Louis on Tuesday following a crash in Turn 3 at Gateway ...
Notes and Quotes from Championship Auto Racing Teams, May 5, 1999
PacWest Racing Group driver Mark Blundell was kept overnight for observation at St. Joseph University Hospital in St. Louis on Tuesday following a crash in Turn 3 at Gateway International Raceway during a test session. Blundell (Motorola PacWest Mercedes) went backward into the Turn 3 wall at approximately 5:50 p.m. CDT and slid along the wall for several hundred feet. He was the final driver on the track following a long day of testing which began at 8 a.m. CDT. Blundell, a four-year veteran who owns three FedEx Championship Series victories, was conscious throughout the incident, which was caused by a gear selection problem, according to data analysis. He was transported by ambulance to St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Granite City, Ill. where he underwent a CAT scan, which was negative, and was then transferred to St. Louis University Hospital, where he remained overnight. He was listed in fair condition Wednesday afternoon. Eleven FedEx Championship Series drivers participated in Tuesday's test at Gateway. Unofficially, the time sheets were topped by Jimmy Vasser (Target Honda Reynard), the 1996 FedEx Championship Series champion, and Adrian Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford Reynard), who currently runs second in the championship. Both were clocked at 25.3 seconds (180.71 miles per hour). Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard), who won the inaugural FedEx Championship Series event contested at Gateway in 1997, was just a tick behind, at 25.4 seconds. Testing continues today, with participants expected to include rookie and FedEx Championship Series points leader Juan Montoya (Target Honda Reynard), Patrick Racing teammates Fernandez and PJ Jones (Visteon Ford Reynard), Christian Fittipaldi (Big Kmart Ford Swift), Max Papis (Miller Lite Ford Reynard), 1998 FedEx Championship Series Rookie of the Year Tony Kanaan (McDonald's Championship Racing Team Honda Reynard) and veteran Scott Pruett (Pioneer/MCI WorldCom Toyota Reynard). The test sessions are being held in preparation for the third annual Motorola 300, Round 6 of the FedEx Championship Series, scheduled for May 29 at Gateway.
* A PAIR FOR PENSKE Marlboro Team Penske announced Tuesday that it will field two Marlboro Mercedes Penskes at the May 15 Rio 200 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Veteran two-time FedEx Championship Series champion Al Unser Jr. will drive his customary #2 entry, while Brazilian native and FedEx Championship Series rookie Tarso Marques will campaign car #3. It will mark the first two-car effort of 1999 for Marlboro Team Penske which, prior to this year, had run at least two cars in every FedEx Championship Series season since 1982. While Marlboro Team Penske has entered only one car in each of the first four rounds of the FedEx Championship Series, Unser. Jr. and Marques have both driven for the team this year. Unser Jr. began the year behind the wheel, but sustained a broken right ankle in the season opener at Homestead and missed subsequent starts at Japan and Long Beach. Marques filled in at both events, finishing 14th in his FedEx Championship Series debut at Japan and 25th at Long Beach, before Unser returned at Nazareth. "As I outlined at the pre-season press conference, our long-term plan has been to utilize a young test driver as we continue the development program of the 99 Marlboro Mercedes Penske," said team owner Roger S. Penske. "Tarso did the job for us when he filled in for Al in Japan and Long Beach, and we want to give him more seat time and race experience." Marques, a veteran of Formula 3000 and Formula One competition, looks forward to competing in his homeland. "For sure, it will be extra special to be able to race in my home country of Brazil," he said. "I haven't raced there since 1996 in Formula One. I've never been to the track in Rio, so once again everything will be new for me, but I hope that I can learn the circuit quickly and do my best to help the team. I enjoyed racing in Japan and I look forward to starting my second oval race; at least now I have a better feel for oval racing, especially the re-starts and working the traffic." Unser Jr., whose most recent teammate at Marlboro Team Penske was Andre Ribeiro, another native Brazilian, is anxious to pair up with Marques at Rio. "I'm looking forward to running with Tarso for the first time," said Unser, who won the series championship in 1990 and '94. "He did a good job for the team in Japan and Long Beach, and it's great that he gets to run in his home country of Brazil for Marlboro Team Penske."
* RIO 200 TO HAVE NEW TITLE SPONSOR, HISTORIC COMMAND Round 5 of the FedEx Championship Serie, scheduled for Saturday, May 15 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, has a new title sponsor under terms of an agreement announced Tuesday by event promoter Emerson Fittipaldi, the 1989 FedEx Championship Series champion. Under terms of a multi-year agreement, Telemar, the communications company responsible for 65 percent of Brazil's telephone service, has become title sponsor of the event, which has been officially renamed the GP Telemar Rio 200. In conjunction with that announcement, Fittipaldi also announced that the traditional command to start engines will be given live by a Russian cosmonaut on the MIR space station, marking the first time that a sporting event will be given its start from space. The image and sound from the space station will be seen on a large video screen placed in front of the start/finish line. The unique command was arranged by OMEGA, official timekeeper of the FedEx Championship Series, which has a partnership with the MIR space station.
* "START YOUR ENGINES" PARTY THURSDAY The 1999 Start Your Engines Party, kickoff event for the Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit, will be held Thursday at The Museum of African American History in Detroit, beginning at 6 p.m. Participants in the program will include CART President and Chief Executive Officer Andrew Craig, IMG Motorsports President Bud Stanner, Tenneco Automotive President Mark Frissora, Detroit Deputy Mayor Freman Hendrix and 1998 Trans-Am Series Champion Paul Gentilozzi. One of the party's highlights will be the unveiling of the 1999 Grand Prix poster, which was designed by Timothy A. Hansz, Senior Partner Creative Group Head of J. Walter Thompson. The poster juxtaposes the feel of racing with the stillness of the Belle Isle Park, site of the Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit.
* SERIES LEADERS FedEx Championship Series points and earnings leaders heading into the May 15 Rio 200 on Emerson Fittipaldi Speedway at Nelson Piquet International Raceway in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: FedEx Championship Series Points for the PPG Cup 1. Juan Montoya, Target/Chip Ganassi Racing 45 2. Adrian Fernandez, Patrick Racing 43 3. Greg Moore, Player's Forsythe Racing 40* 4. Michael Andretti, Newman/Haas Racing 40 5. Dario Franchitti, Team KOOL Green 35 *Moore stands second based on higher race finish, his victory at Homestead
FedEx Championship Series Earnings 1. Juan Montoya, Target/Chip Ganassi Racing $229,750 2. Adrian Fernandez, Patrick Racing $175,750 3. Greg Moore, Player's Forsythe Racing $169,250 4. Michael Andretti, Newman/Haas Racing $137,500 5. Dario Franchitti, Team KOOL Green $130,000