CHAMPCAR/CART: Cleveland Target/Chip Ganassi Racing Preview

JIMMY VASSER AND JUAN MONTOYA, TARGET/CHIP GANASSI RACING; PRE-RACE FACT SHEET/NEWS RELEASE: CLEVELAND What: Medic Drug Grand Prix of Cleveland, round nine of CART's 20-race FedEx Championship Series. When: Sunday, June 27, 2:30 p.m. local...

JIMMY VASSER AND JUAN MONTOYA, TARGET/CHIP GANASSI RACING; PRE-RACE FACT SHEET/NEWS RELEASE: CLEVELAND

What: Medic Drug Grand Prix of Cleveland, round nine of CART's 20-race FedEx Championship Series.

When: Sunday, June 27, 2:30 p.m. local time (broadcast live on ESPN Sunday at 2:30 p.m. EST). Practice -- Friday, June 25. Qualifying -- Saturday, June 26.

Where: The 2.106-mile temporary road course at Cleveland's Burke Lakefront Airport.

History: Target/Chip Ganassi Racing is aiming for its third straight Grand Prix of Cleveland victory. Former Team Target driver Alex Zanardi won the Grand Prix of Cleveland in 1997 and 1998. Last year's Cleveland victory marked the fifth of six straight 1998 Team Target victories. Target/Chip Ganassi Racing's Jimmy Vasser captured the pole position in 1998 and finished seventh.

Fast Facts: * Team Target rookie Juan Montoya is leading the PPG Cup point standings with 90 points. * Montoya has won three races in 1999 (Long Beach, Nazareth and Rio). * Montoya has scored points in seven of his first eight CART races. * Target/Chip Ganassi Racing has been on the podium in 28 of the last 35 races dating back to the 1997 race in Cleveland. * Jimmy Vasser has completed 59 of his last 66 races dating back to Cleveland in 1995. * Target/Chip Ganassi Racing is in pursuit of an unprecedented fourth straight CART championship. * Montoya became the first rookie in CART history to win three straight races when he took the checkered flag at the May 15 Rio 200. * Target/Chip Ganassi Racing has won 26 races since the start of the 1996 season. The rest of the CART field has 34 victories in that span. * Vasser ranks 10th in the PPG Cup point standings with 34 points.

St. Jude:

* The team continues to donate $5,000 for each race win, $1,000 for each pole position and $25 for each lap led to Target House at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, a comfortable place for patients and their families to stay while the children receive treatment. During the 1997 season, the team raised $46,275 for Target House. Target matched the donation and awarded St. Jude Hospital a $100,000 check. In 1998, Team Target's success on the track resulted in a $71,875 donation to St. Jude.

* Joining Montoya, Vasser and Ganassi in Memphis to celebrate the Target House grand opening on May 17 were golfer Tiger Woods, singer Amy Grant, figure skater Scott Hamilton and many others who helped make Target House a reality. * Thanks to Montoya's laps led and pole position, Team Target raised $1,625 for St. Jude in Portland, bringing this year's total to $31,575.

Vasser and Montoya Aim for Team Target's Third Straight Cleveland Grand Prix Title Rookie Montoya leading PPG points race after first eight races

Cleveland -- On a normal day at Burke Lakefront Airport, airplanes take off and land, carrying passengers to their respective destinations. This Sunday, Target/Chip Ganassi Racing's Jimmy Vasser expects his season to take off as he flies around the Burke Lakefront Airport runway course for the Medic Drug Grand Prix of Cleveland. His rookie teammate, Juan Montoya, who leads second-place Dario Franchitti by five points (90 - 85) in the PPG Point standings, hopes landing at the Burke Lakefront Airport boosts his lead in the hunt for the PPG Cup championship. "Morris (Morris Nunn, Montoya's chief engineer) is very excited for me to race in Cleveland," said Montoya, who has scored points in seven of his first eight CART races. "He loves the track and thinks I'll like it, too. I hear it's an exciting layout with lots of passing. I think it will fit my driving style nicely and be a lot of fun. Right now in the season, we need to keep fighting for wins and points, no matter where we race." Montoya, who earlier this year set a rookie record by winning three straight races, is aware of his team's impressive history in Cleveland and excited for his opportunity to add to it. "It seems like almost every race we've gone to, we're defending champions," Montoya said. "It's fun to be part of such a successful team. It motivates me to have a chance to win our team's third straight Cleveland race this weekend." Vasser, who claimed the Grand Prix of Cleveland pole positions in 1996 and 1998, thinks a return to Cleveland is exactly what the doctor ordered to cure his season of bad luck. "The Cleveland race is one of the most interesting of the season," said Vasser, who ranks 10th in the PPG point standings with 34 points. "The track is so wide open that there is always lots of room for passing and being aggressive. After a disappointing weekend in Portland, all we can do is get ready for the next race. Cleveland always raises the blood pressure a little bit, and that might be what me and my guys need to get back on track." Cleveland also is a special city for Team Target owner Chip Ganassi, who, on Thursday, June 24 will receive the second annual Bobby Rahal Award of Excellence, which recognizes distinguished service and excellence in racing. "I grew up fairly close to Cleveland and have always enjoyed coming to this city, especially the past two times when we've won the race," said Ganassi, who is attempting to lead his team to an unprecedented fourth consecutive CART championship. "The best finish of my racing career was second-place in Cleveland, so I told both Jimmy and Juan that if they can't at least match that, I'll know that I was the better driver."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Bobby Rahal , Dario Franchitti , Alex Zanardi , Morris Nunn , Chip Ganassi
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing