WHO'S HOT * Jimmy Vasser ( ...
* Jimmy Vasser (#8 Shell Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) of Team Rahal capped off an amazing race at California Speedway that saw 43 lead changes among seven drivers with a pass of Michael Andretti (#39 Motorola Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) of Team Motorola on a lap 248 restart to win The 500 Presented by Toyota. With an average speed of 197.995 mph, Vasser won the fastest 500-mile open wheel event in history - and quite possibly the fastest 500-mile race in motorsports history - breaking the record of 189.727 mph Al Unser Jr. set at the CART FedEx Championship Series Michigan 500 in 1990. In addition to leading a race-record 148 laps en route to his 10th career Champ Car win, his Shell Team Rahal crew captured $50,000 for winning the Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge for the second-straight year.
* Michael Andretti posted his fourth top-five finish of the season, leading 37 laps before his very competitive machine gave way to Vasser. The effort resulted in Andretti moving to seventh in the series point standings with 110 on the season.
* Patrick Carpentier (Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) of Player's/Forsythe Racing notched a podium at California, wrapping up two of the top-three positions for Ford-Cosworth, which scored its third victory in the past four years at Fontana. The podium was the fifth for Carpentier who now stands third in the point race with 145, just three markers back of Bruno Junqueira (#4 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) of Target Chip Ganassi Racing, who finished ninth after starting on the outside of row one.
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
* The CART FedEx Championship Series returns to Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City, Mexico for the first time since CART's inaugural venture south of the border in 1980 - which also marked CART's first international event. The event ran from 1980-81 on the permanent 2.48-mile road course, which after undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation and modernization process, has been extended to 2.75 miles for this year's CART finale.
* Three-time CART champion Rick Mears (1979, '81-82) took the checkered flag in the first two CART events in Mexico City, with Bobby Unser having won both poles.
* The Round 19 finale in Mexico City marks the first time in Champ Car history that two events on the calendar will be contested in Mexico. The opening round of the 2002 season was hosted in Monterrey, Mexico for the second consecutive season with both events won by recently-crowned champion Cristiano da Matta (#1 Havoline Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) of Newman/Haas Racing.
* Ford-Cosworth proved to be the engine of choice at California Speedway in Round 18, supplying the winning powerplant to Jimmy Vasser and third-place finisher Patrick Carpentier to make it two of three on the victory podium. Overall, Toyota-powered drivers have won nine of 18 CART FedEx Championship Series events contested this season behind the winning performances of Cristiano da Matta (7) and Bruno Junqueira (2). Honda has five wins between Dario Franchitti (#27 KOOL Honda/Lola Bridgestone) (3), teammate Paul Tracy (#26 KOOL Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) and technical partner Michael Andretti followed by Ford-Cosworth (4) thanks to Patrick Carpentier's two Ohio triumphs, rookie Mario Dominguez' win in Surfers Paradise and Jimmy Vasser's victory at California Speedway. Toyota clinched their first championship this year in Australia since the award's inception in 1995. The Manufacturer's Championship currently has Toyota with 312 points over Honda (271) and Ford-Cosworth (247).
* 2002 CART FedEx Championship Series Constructor's Champion Lola has won 15 of 18 CART events this season, including wins by Cristiano da Matta (7), Dario Franchitti (3), Bruno Junqueira (2), Paul Tracy, rookie Mario Dominguez and Jimmy Vasser. 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.
* On October 6th voting for the WorldCom Most Popular Driver Award concluded at the Grand Prix of the Americas. The votes were tallied from the internet, hand written ballots and fan stopping by the voting booth. The top 5 finalists for the award include: Cristiano da Matta, Patrick Carpentier, Paul Tracy, Michael Andretti and Dario Franchitti. The winner's designated charity will receive a check for $25,000 courtesy of WorldCom. The award will be given to the winner by one lucky fan who picked that driver at the year end banquet in Miami at the hotel Intercontinental on November 22nd. Stay tuned to see who will win the WorldCom Most Popular Driver for the 2002 CART FedEx Championship Series.
* Ten drivers have already scored 100 championship points this year, with three more having scored 91 or more. The previous CART record for 100-point drivers is 11, achieved in 2000.
* Scott Dixon has scored 91 points this year without leading a single race lap and is closing in on the CART record for most points scored without having led. Roger Mears holds the existing mark of 103 points without leading, set in 1982. Most recently, Tony Kanaan scored 92 points in 1998 while John Andretti tallied 94 in '92 without having paced the field a single time.
Gran Premio Telmex/Gigante Presented by Banamex/Visa
Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico City, Mexico
CART SCHEDULE (All times local):
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 15
Champ Car practice, 10:00 - 11:30 a.m.
Champ Car provisional qualifying, 2:15 - 3:15 p.m.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 16
Champ Car practice, 10:00 - 11:15 a.m.
Champ Car final qualifying, 1:45 - 2:45 p.m.
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 17
Champ Car warmup, 10:30 - 11:00 a.m.
Gran Premio Telmex/Gigante Presented by Banamex/Visa, 3:00 p.m.
U.S. TELEVISION SCHEDULE: (All times Eastern)
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 15
SPEED Channel, CART qualifying, 4:00 p.m.
CART Friday Night, 10:30 p.m. ET
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 16
SPEED Channel, CART qualifying, 3:30 p.m.
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 17
SPEED Channel, Gran Premio Telmex/Gigante Presented by Banamex/Visa, 4:00 p.m. (Live).
NEXT EVENT: November 22, CART Season Awards Banquet, Hotel Intercontinental, Miami Florida.