FORD RACING CART PREVIEW - Race ...
FORD RACING CART PREVIEW - Race #1
Tecate Telmex Grand Prix - Fundidora Park - Monterrey, Mexico
WHEN: March 8-10, 2002
TRACK LAYOUT: 2.1-mile permanent road course
RACE DISTANCE: 85 laps (178.84 miles)
TELEVISION COVERAGE (ET): Speed Channel; 4:00pm (LIVE)
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Cristiano da Matta
DEFENDING POLESITTER: Kenny Brack (100.665 miles per hour; 1 minute, 15.244 seconds)
QUALIFYING RECORD: Kenny Brack (100.665 miles per hour; 1 minute, 15.244 seconds)
2001 DRIVER POINTS (final): Gil de Ferran (199), Kenny Brack (163), Michael Andretti (147), Helio Castroneves (141), Cristiano da Matta (140)
2001 MANUFACTURER POINTS (final): Honda (342), Toyota (309), Ford-Cosworth (297)
FORD-COSWORTH READY FOR SEASON OPENER - Ford-Cosworth returns for its 11th consecutive season in CART where it will support four teams and six cars with its latest version of the Cosworth XF engine. The XF has proved to be one of the most successful Champ Car powerplants ever designed by Cosworth Racing with 11 pole positions, 14 race victories and a manufacturers' championship (2000) in just two seasons of competition. Despite several technical changes for the 2002 season, which include the reduction of boost pressure and the legalization of traction control, Ford-Cosworth Racing is confident that the XF will be highly competitive yet again this season.
FAMILIAR FACES IN NEW PLACES - Ford-Cosworth's driver lineup will have a slightly different look this season with several familiar drivers moving on to drive for new employers. Although Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani both return to Player's/Forsythe Racing, Team Rahal will have a new look with former series champion Jimmy Vasser and the young, but experienced, Michel Jourdain, Jr., replacing the departed Kenny Brack and Max Papis. Vasser, the 1996 CART champion, brings 10 years of experience and nine victories to the team, while Jourdain, despite being just 25 years old, has garnered 101 career Champ Car starts. Papis takes his three career CART victories to second-year team, Sigma Autosport, while Herdez Competition has replaced Jourdain with rookie Mario Dominguez, who has spent the last three seasons in Indy Lights. Here's a look at the entire 2002 Ford-Cosworth lineup: <pre> No. TEAM DRIVER (PRIMARY SPONSOR) #8 Team Rahal Ford-Cosworth Jimmy Vasser (Shell) #9 Team Rahal Ford-Cosworth Michel Jourdain, Jr. (Gigante) #16 Herdez Competition Ford-Cosworth Mario Dominguez (Herdez) #22 Sigma Autosport Ford-Cosworth Max Papis (Rockwell First Point) #32 Player's/Forsythe Ford-Cosworth Patrick Carpentier (Player's/Indeck) #33 Player's/Forsythe Ford-Cosworth Alex Tagliani (Player's/Indeck) </pre> ROOKIE MARIO DOMINGUEZ GEARS UP FOR FIRST CART RACE - Following three seasons campaigning the Indy Lights championship, 27-year old Mario Dominguez makes his Champ Car debut this weekend in the Tecate Telmex Grand Prix. A native of Mexico City, Dominguez captured two pole positions and made three podium appearances last season en route to a fourth-place finish in the points. Dominguez is expected to compete with Patrick Racing's Townsend Bell for CART's Jim Trueman Rookie of the Year award.
FORD-COSWORTH CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENDERS - In the highly competitive CART FedEx Championship Series there are several drivers who could emerge from the pack to capture the points championship and the coveted Vanderbilt Cup. Although this season's championship chase appears to be as wide open as ever, Ford-Cosworth drivers Patrick Carpentier, Alex Tagliani and Jimmy Vasser each stand a good chance of finishing on top of the points in 2002. Here's a quick look at each of these drivers and why they should be considered championship favorites:
Patrick Carpentier - Captured his first career victory last season with a thrilling victory in the 500-mile race at Michigan International Speedway. Displaying consistency not shown in his previous four seasons, he scored points in 10 of the final 15 events for a career-best 10th-place finish in the championship. Also made additional podium appearances at Chicago (second), Mid-Ohio (third) and Germany (third), and qualified 10th or better in 13 races, including the outside pole position at both Texas and Vancouver.
Alex Tagliani - Following a slow start, came on strong to finish the season with an 11th-place finish in the championship. Finished second at Toronto to make the first podium appearance of his career before closing the season with back-to-back podium results at Australia (third) and Fontana (third). Was one of just four multiple pole winners in 2001, leading the field to the green flag at both Vancouver and Fontana. Scored championship points in eight of nine races from June 3rd (Milwaukee) to August 19th (Road America) and in 10 of his 20 overall starts.
Jimmy Vasser - Closed the 2001 campaign by scoring championship points in five consecutive events en route to a 12th-place finish in the championship. Former CART champion notched a season-best fourth-place finish at Nazareth, but also recorded fifth-place results at Long Beach, Japan, Cleveland and Laguna Seca. He has 167 Champ Car starts in 10 years with seven pole positions and nine victories, proving that he can contend for the championship with the right equipment.
COSWORTH CHAMP CAR WINS - Max Papis' third career Champ Car victory at Laguna Seca on October 14, 2001, was the 212th victory for Cosworth Racing in USAC- and CART-sanctioned races since it entered North American open-wheeled racing in 1976. Cosworth has won 166 CART-sanctioned races and 46 USAC-sanctioned races, including five victories in 1996 with the Ford-Cosworth XB engine during the inaugural season of the Indy Racing League (IRL). Michael Andretti has won the most races using a Cosworth engine (25), followed by Rick Mears (20), Bobby Rahal (18), Mario Andretti (16) and Johnny Rutherford (16).
SPARK PLUGS - Ford-Cosworth powered Kenny Brack and Team Rahal to the pole position in the first-ever CART race at Monterrey last season ... With 167 career starts, Team Rahal driver Jimmy Vasser is tied with Danny Sullivan for ninth on the CART career starts list ... Sigma Autosport driver Max Papis will make his 100th career Champ Car start this weekend in the Tecate Telmex Grand Prix ... Although he's a rookie to the CART Series, Herdez Competition driver Mario Dominguez will be making his second career appearance on the circuit at Fundidora Park. Last season Dominguez started and finished fourth as a competitor in the Indy Lights race held in support of the CART event.