CHAMPCAR/CART: Mexico City: Toyota preview

What to look for at Mexico City: TOYOTA AIMS FOR A THREE-PEAT IN MEXICO -- Toyota will be seeking its third straight victory on Mexican soil when the CART series heads to Mexico City for the Nov. 17 Gran Premio Mexico. Cristiano da Matta ...

What to look for at Mexico City:

TOYOTA AIMS FOR A THREE-PEAT IN MEXICO -- Toyota will be seeking its third straight victory on Mexican soil when the CART series heads to Mexico City for the Nov. 17 Gran Premio Mexico. Cristiano da Matta began both the 2001 and 2002 seasons by winning on the road course in Monterrey, Mexico. Prior to the Monterrey season-opener in 2001, CART had not raced in Mexico since 1981.

TOYOTA LOOKS TO CONTINUE ROAD COURSE DOMINANCE -- Heading into the season finale on the permanent road course in Mexico City, Toyota drivers have earned four victories and four second-place finishes in the six road-course events run in 2002. In addition, Toyota drivers have been on the pole in four of the last five road-course races, while registering eight front-row starting positions out of 10 possible.

DA MATTA MASTERS ROAD COURSES -- In the six permanent road-course events this season, Cristiano daMatta (Havoline Toyota) has won four and placed second in a fifth. Even though da Matta has qualified on the front row in five of the six events, only three (Laguna, Portland and Montreal) of his seven pole positions have been on permanent road courses. Ironically, the only time he has not started on the front row on a road course was at Monterrey, Mexico, in the season opener when qualifying was slowed by rain.

OPEN AND SHUT -- Should Cristiano da Matta be able to drive his Toyota to victory in Mexico City, he would have started and finished each of the last two seasons with wins. Only one other driver (Rick Mears in 1989) in CART history has been able to both open and close a season with a victory.

DA MATTA'S PLACE IN HISTORY --With seven victories this season, Cristiano da Matta can tie the all-time CART single-season record for wins in a season with a victory in Mexico City. Michael Andretti (1991) and Al Unser Jr. (1994) currently hold the record at eight. Da Matta's seven wins makes him one of just five drivers to win that many in a season, joining Unser Jr., Andretti, Alex Zanardi (1998) and Juan Montoya (1999). With two wins to close out the 2001 season, da Matta has now won nine of the last 20 CART races. In 2002, da Matta leads the FedEx Championship Series in virtually every statistical category including victories (7), pole positions (7), laps led 619 (almost twice as many as any other driver) and road-course points (180). So far this season, he has earned victories in Monterrey, Mexico; Laguna Seca; Portland; Chicago; Toronto; Road America and Miami.

AN ALL-TIME HIGH -- Cristiano da Matta's 11 victories with Toyota power are the highest of any driver to campaign a Toyota during the program's seven years. Bruno Junqueira (2001-02) and Juan Montoya, both from Target Chip Ganassi Racing, are second with three each.

STATISTICALLY SPEAKING -- In addition to winning the 2002 CART Manufacturer's Championship, Toyota also leads all manufacturers in victories (9), poles (11), front-row starts (19 of 36), laps led (1,089) and road-course points (227). Toyota-powered drivers Cristiano da Matta and Bruno Junqueira are first and second in the CART Drivers Championship.

JUNQUEIRA LOOKS TO CLINCH SECOND -- Bruno Junqueira (Target Toyota) could provide a Toyota one-two finish in the CART Driver's Championship simply by finishing ahead of both Patrick Carpentier and Dario Franchitti. He leads Carpentier by three points and Franchitti by 10 heading into the season finale. Junqueira has enjoyed a break-out season with two wins, three poles, five front-row starting positions and nine top-five finishes.

-Quotes-

Jim Aust,Toyota vice president of motorsports: "We're attempting to close out the season on a high note. We've already won the Manufacturers Championship, but it would be the icing on the cake to get a 10th win this season. It's also extremely important for us to help Bruno take second in the championship and close out with a Toyota one-two."

-Toyota-

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Series IndyCar
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing