CHAMPCAR/CART: Detroit GP Pre-Race Notes

Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard) has collected top-five finishes in five of his last six starts to vault from 13th to sixth in the FedEx Championship Series points race. With 90 points, he remains well within striking distance of series...

Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard) has collected top-five finishes in five of his last six starts to vault from 13th to sixth in the FedEx Championship Series points race. With 90 points, he remains well within striking distance of series leader Juan Montoya (Target Honda Reynard), who leads the championship with 129 points. Tracy's run of recent success began with a victory in Milwaukee and also includes finishes of fifth at Portland, fourth at Cleveland, second at Toronto and third at Michigan. He also finished 11th at Road America, giving him a streak of six consecutive points-paying efforts, the longest active streak among FedEx Championship Series drivers.

Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard), Tracy's teammate at Team KOOL Green, has finished on the podium in six of his past eight starts on temporary street circuits, dating to a third-place finish at Cleveland last year. Also included are victories at Vancouver and Houston last year, a runner-up effort at Australia last year, and finishes of second at Long Beach and first at Toronto this year. Franchitti has also qualified on the front row for seven of those eight starts, including poles last year at Toronto, Vancouver and Australia.

Montoya, the FedEx Championship Series points leader, has won two of the three FedEx Championship Series events contested on temporary street circuits during his rookie season. The victories have come at Long Beach and Cleveland, where he won from the pole. Montoya has scored PPG Cup points in nine of 12 starts during his rookie season and owns victories at Nazareth and Rio de Janeiro in addition to his two triumphs on temporary street circuits.

Michael Andretti (Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Swift) owns top-five finishes in five of six career starts at The Raceway on Belle Isle, which began hosting the Detroit Grand Prix in 1992. The streak includes a victory in 1996 as well as finishes of second in '97, fourth in '92 and '95 and fifth in '94. He also won the pole position for the first FedEx Championship Series event ever contested on Belle Isle in 1992.

Gil de Ferran (Valvoline/Cummins Special Honda Reynard) has finished third in each of his past three starts at The Raceway on Belle Isle (1996-98). His third-place finish in 1997, when he also won the pole, started him on a run of six podium finishes in eight events that season.

Adrian Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford Reynard) has scored PPG Cup points in four of six starts at Detroit, topped by last year's runner-up effort. Also included are finishes of seventh in 1993, sixth in '95 and fourth in '96.

Honda-powered drivers have won the past 10 FedEx Championship Series events contested on temporary street circuits, dating to the start of the 1998 season. The streak includes victories last year by Alex Zanardi at Long Beach, Detroit, Cleveland, Toronto and Australia; Dario Franchitti at Vancouver and Houston; and this year by Juan Montoya at Long Beach and Cleveland, and Franchitti at Toronto. The last non-Honda-powered driver to win a FedEx Championship Series street race was Mauricio Gugelmin, who piloted a Mercedes to victory at Vancouver in 1997.

The last three FedEx Championship Series events contested on The Raceway on Belle Isle have produced victories for three different engine manufacturers. Michael Andretti drove a Ford to victory n 1996, Greg Moore guided a Mercedes to victory in '97 and Zanardi was first to the checkered flag in a Honda last year.

Firestone has won 11 of 12 FedEx Championship Series events contested this season and 28 of 29 overall dating to Adrian Fernandez' victory at Japan last year.

The Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit will see a significant number of changes to the entry list, with three drivers making their first starts of the season for their respective teams and two more returning to competition following lengthy absences. The change which figures to have the biggest impact on the FedEx Championship Series points race finds Roberto Moreno stepping in for the injured Christian Fittipaldi (Big Kmart Ford Swift) at Newman/Haas Racing. Fittipaldi was enjoying the finest season of his five-year career - including his first career victory and pole position, at Road America and Rio de Janeiro, respectively - and stood fourth in the championship with 101 points prior to sustaining a subdural hematoma during a testing accident at Gateway International Raceway Monday. Moreno is well acquainted with the Newman/Haas operation, having made six starts as a substitute driver for Fittipaldi in 1997 after Fittipaldi sustained a broken right leg in Australia. Moreno also substituted for Fittipaldi at Milwaukee last year after Fittipaldi sustained a concussion in a practice accident. Moreno comes off an eight-race stint subbing for Mark Blundell (Motorola PacWest Mercedes), who has completed his recovery from a small fracture of the seventh cervical vertebra sustained in a May 4 testing accident at Gateway. Blundell is due to make his first FedEx Championship Series start this weekend since finishing 17th at Nazareth on May 2.

Also returning to competition is Naoki Hattori (Alpine Honda Reynard) of Walker Racing, who will make his first series appearance since sustaining a double compound fracture of the left leg during an opening-lap accident in the season opener at Homestead on March 21.

Other changes in the driver lineup find Jan Magnussen (Visteon Ford Reynard) stepping in for PJ Jones at Patrick Racing and Gonzalo Rodriguez (Marlboro Mercedes Lola) making the first start of his FedEx Championship Series career with Marlboro Team Penske. Magnussen most recently competed in the FedEx Championship Series in 1996 when he started the final four events of the season, one for Marlboro Team Penske and three for Hogan-Penske Racing. He recorded his career-best finish of eighth at Laguna Seca. Magnussen is currently competing in the American Le Mans Series, where he is tied for fifth place in the championship with 65 points. He spent the 1997 season and part of 1998 competing for the Stewart Grand Prix team in Formula One. Magnussen tested for Patrick Racing at Mid-Ohio last week and Gateway International Raceway early this week. Rodriguez, a Uruguayan, currently stands second in the Formula 3000 championship. His season has been highlighted by a victory at Monaco and a runner-up effort at Barcelona. He recorded two victories and four podium finishes en route to a runner-up finish in last year's Formula 3000 championship. He is also a veteran of British Formula 3, British Formula Renault and Formula Ford competition.

FedEx Championship Series drivers Greg Moore (Player's Forsythe Racing Mercedes Reynard) and Adrian Fernandez will make a quick exit from The Raceway on Belle Isle on Friday and will be flown to Indianapolis, where they will compete in Friday afternoon's fourth and final round of the International Race of Champions (IROC) series at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The IROC series brings together 12 of the world's top drivers, representing different forms of auto racing, to compete against each other in identically prepared cars. Fernandez will start fourth and Moore fifth in Friday's season finale, in which cars will be gridded in reverse order of the IROC point standings. Moore stands eighth in the championship and Fernandez ninth heading into Friday's event.

Early returns through the first two weeks of voting for the inaugural MCI Most Popular Driver Award find Michael Andretti in the lead, followed by rookie Juan Montoya, Al Unser Jr. (Marlboro Mercedes Lola), Adrian Fernandez and Greg Moore, respectively. More than 5,000 votes have been received via mail and the Internet. Fans can register their votes on both the CART and MCI WorldCom Internet websites ( www.cart.com or www.mciracing.com ) or by completing the official entry forms found in Champ Car magazine, Championship Racing magazine, National Speed Sport News, Racer magazine, and all FedEx Championship Series event programs through the Sept. 12 Champ Car event at Laguna Seca. Voting continues through Sept. 15 and one voter will be selected to receive a trip for two to Los Angeles to attend the season-ending Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota on Oct. 31, as well as the FedEx Championship Series awards banquet the following evening, where the contest winner will present a $25,000 check in the name of the winning driver to the driver's charity of choice.

Qualifying for the Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit will air 6 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN2. CART 2Day airs 2:30 p.m. ET Sunday on ESPN2, with ABC-TV's tape-delayed race broadcast beginning at 4 p.m. ET. The race will also air on the CART Radio Network and both qualifying and the race will be broadcast on the CART website, at www.cart.com .

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Jan Magnussen , Al Unser Jr. , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Adrian Fernandez , Christian Fittipaldi , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Mark Blundell , Naoki Hattori , Greg Moore , Gonzalo Rodriguez
Teams Team Penske , Stewart Grand Prix