CHAMPCAR/CART: Miami: Notes of interest

WHO'S HOT · Scotland's Dario Franchitti ( ...

WHO'S HOT

· Scotland's Dario Franchitti (#27 KOOL Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) of Team KOOL Green is coming off his third victory in the past six CART FedEx Championship Series races, winning at Rockingham Motor Speedway in Corby, England to take a popular victory on home soil. The race marked his 10th career Champ Car triumph and complemented his two other wins this season, both having come in Canada (Vancouver and Montreal). Franchitti is currently third in the point standings with 126 heading into this Sunday's inaugural Grand Prix Americas in Miami, Florida.

· With 191 championship points, six wins and as many poles to his credit this season, Brazilian Cristiano da Matta (#6 Chevron Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) of Newman/Haas Racing heads into this weekend's Grand Prix Americas coming off a second-place performance in England that further strengthened his grasp on the points lead over Target Chip Ganassi Racing pilot Bruno Junqueira (#4 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) with 133. Miami marks the first race da Matta can mathematically see the light at the end of the championship tunnel. If he collects all 23 championship points available (both poles, most laps led and race win) as he has already done thrice this season in Laguna Seca, Portland and Toronto, and Junqueira finishes no higher than fifth, he will secure his first CART FedEx Championship Series title.

· Patrick Carpentier (#32 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) of Player's Forsythe Racing travels south to the Sunshine State on the heels of a podium showing of third in England after starting 10th. Carpentier, still alive in the championship hunt, stands fourth to the frontrunners with 115 and will be forced to revert back to the form that won him races at Mid-Ohio and Cleveland earlier this season as the clock is very much ticking with four events remaining.

· Although the feat came too little, too late in the season, Kenny Brack (#12 Target Toyota/Lola Bridgestone) of Target Chip Ganassi Racing scored two bonus points for winning the pole position for the second straight year in England and leading the most laps (134 of 211) en route to a seventh place result. Brack stands 11th in points with 81 after a run of bad luck this season that continued in the UK when a slow pit stop dashed his hopes for victory.

ON THE RIGHT TRACK

· Although it's been seven years since the CART FedEx Championship Series launched its turbocharged, 800-plus horsepower Champ Cars through the downtown Miami streets back in 1995, prepare for a reconfigured temporary street circuit at Bayfront Park to come to life this weekend off the shores of the Atlantic for an early-October show of speed.

· Michael Andretti (#39 Motorola Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) of Team Motorola scored a pole position in the 1995 season-opening inaugural downtown Miami event when the race was held on a 1.829-mile street course. Andretti dominated the first half of that race and led the most laps (48) until a suspension failure caused in an earlier incident with Eliseo Salazar sidelined him to finish 20th. Andretti returns to Miami this weekend eighth in points with 85.

· As a 24-year-old CART rookie driver, Christian Fittipaldi (#11 Lilly Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) of Newman/Haas Racing scored an impressive fifth place result in the 1995 Miami street race after starting seventh. Fittipaldi was the top rookie finisher in the event and outdid uncle and 1989 CART champion Emerson Fittipaldi who finished 24th.

MANUFACTURING SUCCESS

· Honda powered Dario Frachitti to a victory in the Round 15 race staged in England. The podium was in perfect balance as Toyota was represented by point leader Cristiano da Matta in second and Ford-Cosworth by two-time race winner this season Patrick Carpentier in third. Overall, Toyota-powered drivers have won eight of 14 CART FedEx Championship Series events contested this season with Cristiano da Matta (6) and Bruno Junqueira (2). Honda has five wins between Dario Franchitti (3), teammate Paul Tracy (#26 KOOL Honda/Lola/Bridgestone), and technical partner Michael Andretti followed by Ford-Cosworth thanks to Patrick Carpentier's two Ohio triumphs. The hunt for the Manufacturer's Championship has Toyota (266) leading over Honda (234) and Ford-Cosworth (192).

· As the CART FedEx Championship Series makes its return to the downtown streets of Miami, the Ford-Cosworth/Reynard combination comes in as the defending race champion, supplying the setup that earned Jacques Villeneuve the victory in 1995 event en route to the season championship. Ford-Cosworth also supplied engines for four of the top-five finishers that race.

· Lola has won 12 of 15 CART FedEx Championship Series events this season, including wins by Cristiano da Matta (6), Dario Franchitti (3), Bruno Junqueira (2) and Paul Tracy. Reynard took trips to victory circle in the remaining three races this season in the hands of Patrick Carpentier (2) and Michael Andretti. Lola leads 313 to 181 in the Constructor's Championship.

NOTEWORTHY

· Promotions this year within the CART FedEx Championship Series have been so successful for Simple Green that the sponsor of the Simple Green CART Safety Team and the official cleaner and degreaser of the CART FedEx Championship Series will partner with Publix supermarkets for in-store product displays and special value price points leading up to this weekend's inaugural Grand Prix Americas. On Wednesday, October 2, Simple Green will also participate in a live remote set up at the Publix at Brickell Village with sports radio 560 AM during the talk show broadcast of Hank Goldberg from ESPN. Champ Car driver Townsend Bell, along with Barber Dodge Pro Series pilot Danica Patrick, will join members of the Simple Green CART Safety Team, with the Simple Green girls distributing free posters. The Publix at Brickell Village is located at 134 SW 13th Street Miami, Florida 33130.

· The WorldCom Most Popular Driver Award allows fans to cast their vote for their favorite CART FedEx Championship Series driver by filling out an official entry form. These entry forms can be filled out on-site in Miami at the WorldCom Most Popular Driver voting tent. Also, voting can take place on CART's official website, www.cart.com, www.espn/rpm.com and www.WorldComracing.com. Votes will be tabulated and a fan selected at random will have the opportunity to present the award to the Most Popular Driver at the 2002 CART FedEx Championship Series Awards banquet, a trip to the inaugural 2003 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and a Skip Barber Racing School package. The winning driver will be presented with a trophy and a check for $25,000 that will be donated to the driver's favorite charity. The Grand Prix Americas is the last weekend to vote for your favorite CART driver, as the contest ends October 6 in Miami.

· The Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge continued in England with Player's/Forsythe Racing's crew for driver Patrick Carpentier scoring the victory and earning 20 points. Team Rahal's crew for Jimmy Vasser (#8 Shell Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) maintains the overall lead (131 to 114) over Player's/Forsythe Racing's crew for Alex Tagliani (#33 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) through 15 rounds. The award recognizes the efforts of CART FedEx Championship Series pit crew members and is based on a team's total time for pit stops during a race. Just as speed translates into money on the track, being quick in the pits will earn one team the season-ending award of $50,000 from Craftsman. The Grand Prix Americas will be the last chance for teams to qualify for the head-to-head shootout at California Speedway November 3rd.

· The Pioneer Rock-N-Roar Concert Series will come to life again Saturday, October 5th at 7:30 p.m. with Grammy Award-winning rock band TRAIN. The concert is set to take place at the Pioneer Stage at the Bayfront Park Amphitheatre and is free to all Grand Prix Americas ticketholders. The main event will be preceded by a concert featuring internationally renowned jazz flautist Nestor Torres Friday, October 4th at 6:30 p.m. at the same location. Contact Paul McLaughlin in CART Marketing at (317) 715-4148 for more information.

CART SCHEDULE (All times local):

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 4 - Champ Car practice, 10:15 - 11:35 a.m.; Champ Car qualifying, 2:10 - 3:10 p.m.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 5 - Champ Car practice, 9:50 - 11:00 a.m.; Champ Car qualifying, 1:15 - 2:15 p.m.

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 6 - Champ Car warmup, 9:00 - 9:30 a.m.; Grand Prix Americas 1:00 p.m.

U.S. TELEVISION SCHEDULE:

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 4 - SPEED Channel, CART qualifying, 2:00 p.m. ET (Live); SPEED Channel, CART Friday Night, 7:00 p.m. ET.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 5 - SPEED Channel, CART Qualifying, 1:30 p.m. (Live);

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 6 - CBS Sports, Grand Prix Americas, 1:00 p.m. ET (Live).

-cart-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Eliseo Salazar , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Bruno Junqueira , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Christian Fittipaldi , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Townsend Bell , Emerson Fittipaldi , Skip Barber , Chip Ganassi , Danica Patrick , Cristiano da Matta
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing