CHAMPCAR/CART: Fontana: Notes of Interest, schedule

WHO'S HOT * CART FedEx Championship Series rookie Mario Dominguez ( ...

WHO'S HOT

* CART FedEx Championship Series rookie Mario Dominguez (#55 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) of Herdez Competition took his very first Champ Car victory in Australia last weekend in a race that saw rain soak the 2.795-mile street course throughout the day and caused the Round 17 event to be shortened from 70 to 40 laps. Dominguez was at the head of the field when CART stewards decided to call an end to the event, which saw 34 of its 40 laps run under caution, taking his first win and also giving the Herdez squad its first CART victory, dating all the way back to its previous incarnation as Bettenhausen Motorsports.

* Recently crowned 2002 CART FedEx Championship Series champion Cristiano da Matta (#1 Chevron Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) smashed Dario Franchitti's (#27 KOOL Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) qualifying record at Surfers Paradise and scored his series-best seventh pole of the season. With seven victories on the year, da Matta comes into California again looking to tie the record for wins in a season with two events remaining. Al Unser Jr. (1994) and Michael Andretti (#39 Motorola Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) ('91) both won eight in a single season.

ON THE RIGHT TRACK

* Although sidelined this weekend, team owner/driver Adrian Fernandez of Fernandez Racing holds the rights to the race record on the 2.029-mile oval in California with a time of 2:57.17.542 (171.666 mph) en route to victory in 1999. Max Papis (#51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) will return to the series this weekend to drive in place of the injured Fernandez for the second time this season (Mid-Ohio). Papis will be gunning for another successful run at Fontana, after scoring two second-place finishes here in 1999 and 2001.

* Current CART drivers who have tasted victory champagne in The 500 Presented by Toyota include Team Rahal's Jimmy Vasser (#8 Shell Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) in 1998, Christian Fittipaldi (#11 Lilly Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) of Newman/Haas Racing in 2000 and teammate Cristiano da Matta in last year's event.

* Alex Tagliani (#33 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) of Player's/Forsythe Racing comes to CART's third Californian stop on the 2002 schedule as the defending polesitter of The 500 Presented by Toyota.

MANUFACTURING SUCCESS

* Toyota clinched the 2002 CART Manufacturer's Championship in Australia with a fourth-place finish from Kenny Brack (#12 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) and a single point for leading the most laps awarded to Cristiano da Matta. The championship is the first for Toyota since the award's inception in 1995. Overall, Toyota-powered drivers have won nine of 17 CART FedEx Championship Series events contested this season with Cristiano da Matta (7) and Bruno Junqueira (#4 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) with two. Honda has six wins between Dario Franchitti (3), teammate Paul Tracy (#26 KOOL Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) and technical partner Michael Andretti followed by Ford-Cosworth (3) thanks to Patrick Carpentier's (#32 Player's Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) two Ohio triumphs and rookie Mario Dominguez' win in Surfers Paradise. Toyota clinched the Manufacturer's Championship with 301 points over Honda (255) and Ford-Cosworth (226).

* In the CART FedEx Championship Series' five-year history in Fontana, the Toyota/Lola combination comes in as the defending race champion, supplying the setup that earned Cristiano da Matta the victory in last year's event. Overall, Ford (2) leads Honda (1) and Toyota (1) in total wins at California Speedway with Reynard (3) leading Lola (2) in the chassis battle.

* 2002 CART FedEx Championship Series Constructor's Champion Lola has won 14 of 17 CART events this season, including wins by Cristiano da Matta (7), Dario Franchitti (3), Bruno Junqueira (2), Paul Tracy and rookie Mario Dominguez. Reynard took trips to victory circle in the remaining three races this season in the hands of Patrick Carpentier (2) and Michael Andretti. Lola clinched the championship in the Round 14 Shell Grand Prix of Denver in September.

NOTEWORTHY

* On the Record...In the 2000 CART FedEx Championship Series event in California, the 2.029-mile oval served as the site for a record world closed-course record lap for auto racing. Gil de Ferran turned in a qualifying lap at a blistering 241.428 mph in just 30.255 seconds.

* Most lead changes...Last year's race in Fontana featured a Champ Car record 73 lead changes among 19 different drivers, crumbling the previous Champ Car record of 62 established at Michigan in 1998. In addition, the 19 different race leaders shattered a Champ Car record of 12 established in Fontana in 1999.

* Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge...As CART's only "Official Tool and Tool Storage Supplier," Craftsman supports top teams in the CART FedEx Championship Series with mechanic's tools and sponsors the Craftsman Tech Center - CART's mobile technical inspection facility.  In addition, Craftsman continues to sponsor the Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge, which debuted in 1999, to recognize the efforts of motorsports' unsung heroes, the mechanics who build, maintain and service the Champ Cars. CART teams compete all year to see who has the best crew on pit road.  Throughout the season, all pit stops are timed - less time in the pits means more points. The four teams that tallied the most pit crew challenge points, plus a fifth wildcard team, go head-to-head in California this weekend. California Speedway's Pit Lane will serve as the battle grounds for this weekend's fourth annual Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge in Fontana. The hour-long competition starting at 3:30 p.m. PT highlights the five Champ Car teams participating in the Shoot Out, all competing for $50,000 cash, a $15,000 Waterford Crystal Trophy and bragging rights for the winning pit crew. Shell Team Rahal will be looking to defend the title they won last year with driver Kenny Brack. This year's Rahal squad is represented in the Shoot Out by the #8 machine driven by 1996 CART champion Jimmy Vasser. Newman/Haas Racing comes into the competition with both its CART FedEx Championship Series entries, one with newly-crowned CART FedEx Championship Series champion Cristiano da Matta in the #1 car - the Wildcard Winner from Chicago - along with the #11 entry piloted by Christian Fittipaldi. The remaining two teams in the Shoot Out are Target Chip Ganassi Racing with Bruno Junqueira in the #4 machine and Player's/Forsythe Racing's #33 entry with driver Alex Tagliani. A photo opportunity with the winning team of the Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge Shoot Out will take place immediately following the event in the winning team's pit box. For more information, contact Doug Bresnahan at (317) 715-4151 or via mobile at (317) 716-9331.

* Runway Madness "Viva Las Vegas"...One of the biggest social and charity events of the year on the CART FedEx Championship Series, "Runway Madness V," takes on a Las Vegas theme in the fifth annual CARA Charities' presentation this Friday, November 1, at the Ontario (Calif.) Convention Center beginning at 6 p.m. PT. This year's charity dinner and entertainment show is called "Runway madnessViva Las Vegas." A kickoff event for the November 3 The 500 Presented by Toyota at California Speedway will feature four continuous activities including a Lounge Stage, a full casino, special VIP (high roller) gambling room and a silent auction. A variety of auction items - from racing-related, one-of-a-kind collectables to retail products - will be an important part of the charitable portion of the event. An online auction also is a major portion of the program with valuable items available at www.auction.caraux.org. For the first time in "Madness" history, the program will be seen on SPEED Channel as part of "CART Friday Night" at 10:30 p.m. (EST). "Runway madnessViva Las Vegas" is an annual benefit dinner and party held prior to the CART race at California Speedway and is a primary fundraiser for CARA Charities to assist worthwhile causes on a national and international scope. This year's event charities will include the Ontario Fire and Police "Spark of Life" Fund. Last year's "Runway Madness" party, with driver Dario Franchitti and his wife Ashley Judd served as honorary chairpersons, recognized the needs of the families of the fallen New York policemen and firemen from the September 11 terrorist attacks by making a $50,000 donation from the 1000-person event on November 2, 2001. It was the single largest donation ever presented by in the 20-year history of CARA Charities. CART driver Kenny Brack, an accomplished blues guitarist, has formed the latest edition of CART's RPM rock band and will make a special appearance at "Runway madnessViva Las Vegas." Brack, the 1999 Indy 500 winner, brings a stellar cast of rock musicians to the CARA Charities' spectacular with a group he now calls "Super RPM." Joining the Swedish driver in the four-person "Super RPM" will be former Blue Oyster Cult drummer and Players/Forsythe Racing's Rick Downey, Midwest blues guitar star Gene Deer and Mo Nunn Racing's Laz Denes. CARA Charities, now entering its third decade of service to the auto racing community, also hosts other fundraising activities including the Indy 500 Fashion Show in May, the "Taste of CART" at Mid-Ohio in August, the Indy Shop Tour in September and the Christmas Ornament program. For further information on "Runway madnessViva Las Vegas", contact the CARA Charities office at (317) 299-2277 or e-mail to carachar@aol.com. Tickets will be available at the door at Friday night.

* A musical performance by The FIXX and Berlin followed by a fireworks display will take place at California Speedway's infield entertainment center from 5:00 - 7:30 p.m. PT this Saturday evening. The event is open to all Saturday ticket holders. Contact Kelly Clancy at California Speedway for more information at (909) 429-5203

The 500 Presented by Toyota
California Speedway, Fontana, California

CART SCHEDULE (All times local): 

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 1
Champ Car practice, 10:00  - 11:30 a.m.
Champ Car practice, 2:15 - 3:30 p.m.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 2
Champ Car practice, 8:30 - 9:30 a.m.
Champ Car qualifying, 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 3
Champ Car warmup, 9:00 - 9:30 a.m.
The 500 Presented by Toyota 12:30 p.m.

U.S. TELEVISION SCHEDULE: (All times Eastern) 

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 1
SPEED Channel, CART Friday Night, 10:30 p.m. ET

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 2
SPEED Channel, CART qualifying, 2:30 p.m. (Live)

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 3
SPEED Channel, The 500 Presented by Toyota, 3:30 p.m. (Live)

NEXT EVENT:  November 17, Gran Premio Telmex-Gigante Presented by Banamex/Visa at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico City, Mexico.

-www.cart.com

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Bruno Junqueira , Max Papis , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Christian Fittipaldi , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Kenny Brack , Mario Dominguez , Chip Ganassi , Cristiano da Matta , Mo Nunn
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing