Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix WHO'S HOT * Canadian Champ Car veteran Paul Tracy ( ...
Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix
* Canadian Champ Car veteran Paul Tracy (#3 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) of Player's/Forsythe Racing led 71 0f 105 laps in the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season-opener in St. Petersburg last month en route to his 20th career victory. The win vaulted the series' leading active racewinner into a tie for 16th place on the all-time Champ Car win list with Earl Cooper, who raced in the series from 1912-26 and won three series championships. Tracy leads the season point race 21 to 16 in the early goings over Michel Jourdain Jr. (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) heading into Champ Car's third visit to Fundidora Park's 2.104-mile permanent road course in Monterrey, Mexico for the Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix. Tracy last led the season points race after the Grand Prix of Detroit at the Raceway at Bell Isle in 2000.
* Bruno Junqueira (#1 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) of Newman/Haas Racing finished second in St. Petersburg after starting seventh. The Brazilian continues to build on momentum gained from finishing series runner up in 2002.
* Although rookie Sebastien Bourdais (#2 Newman/Haas Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) finished 11th in his Champ Car debut at St. Petersburg after a wall brush took him out of contention, the impressive young Frenchman showed many why he could be a serious contender in 2003. Bourdais earned the first two championship points available on the season after pacing both qualifying sessions. He set the fastest lap of the race in addition to leading 30 laps and with that, became the first driver in the 25-year history of CART to lead the first laps of his very-first Champ Car race. Former champion Nigel Mansell won the pole in his first race in 1993, but lost the lead to Emerson Fittipaldi on the first lap of that race in Australia.
* Team Rahal's Michel Jourdain Jr. of Mexico scored a career-best finish of second at St. Petersburg, topping the third he scored at Michigan in 2001. The pressure to turn in another career-best performance will most certainly be on Jourdain this weekend as the Mexican seeks another solid drive on home soil in Monterrey.
* Mario Haberfeld (#34 Mi-Jack Conquest Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) took the fourth spot on what was a great debut for the two-car Mi-Jack Conquest and Fittipaldi-Dingman stable. The Brazilian was the top finisher amongst the rookies and Reynard drivers. The Fittipaldi-Dingman team earned the seventh position in the box score with Portuguese rookie Tiago Monteiro (#7 Fittipaldi-Dingman Racing Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone), who also led four laps in his debut.
* Veteran pilot Roberto Moreno (#4 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) of Brazil returned to the series in St. Petersburg and immediately showed his Herdez Competition squad he could get the job done as he rounded out the top-five after starting 15th on the grid. At age 44, the timeless Moreno is the elder statesman of the series where the average age is 29.2 years.
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
* The wildly popular Mexican owner/driver Adrian Fernandez (#51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) of Fernandez Racing put the throng of Mexican fans who attended last year's event on their feet for two-straight days, posting the top times in both provisional and final qualifying sessions. Fernandez will no doubt be one to watch in Champ Car's first of two forays south of the U.S. border this season (Mexico City), but he must improve on previous finishes of 13th (2002) and 19th (2001) in Monterrey.
* Paul Tracy came from 15th on the starting grid to post a podium finish of third in inaugural event at Fundidora Park in 2001, and came from 19th to finish eighth on the 2.104-mile road course last in last year's race.
* In addition to being a four-time recipient of the Vanderbilt Cup for winning the Champ Car title, Newman/Haas Racing owns the rights to both race wins at Fundidora Park. Brazilian Cristiano da Matta piloted his Newman/Haas Racing/Lola to a victory from starting second on the grid in 2001, and improved upon that performance with a win from pole in 2002.
BY THE NUMBERS
* Until a massive record raceday crowd of 174,866 rolled into Mexico City in November 2002 for the Champ Cars debut at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, the 2001 Monterrey crowd of 116,000 held the all-time Champ Car raceday attendance mark. Complementing the raceday turnout in Mexico 2002 was a total of 351,972 spectators for the weekend, which also stacked up to be an all-time Champ Car record, surpassing the 316,000 that moved through the turnstiles that same weekend in Monterrey 2001.
Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix
Fundidora Park, Monterrey, Mexico
Friday-Sunday, March 21-23
SUPPORT EVENTS: CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, Barber Dodge Pro Series
CHAMP CAR SCHEDULE (All times local):
FRIDAY, MARCH 21:
Toyota Atlantic practice, 8:00 - 8:30 a.m.
Barber Dodge practice, 8:45 - 9:15 a.m.
Champ Car practice, 9:30 - 10:20 a.m.
Champ Car practice, 11:10 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Atlantic qualifying, 12:15 - 12:45 p.m.
Barber Dodge qualifying, 1:35 - 2:15 p.m.
Champ Car qualifying, 2:30 - 3:30 p.m.
SATURDAY, MARCH 22:
Atlantic practice, 8:20 - 8:50 a.m.
Barber Dodge qualifying, 9:05 - 9:45 a.m.
Champ Car practice, 10:00 a.m. - 11:15 a.m.
Atlantic qualifying, 12:50 - 1:30 p.m.
Champ Car qualifying, 1:45 - 2:45 p.m.
Barber Dodge race, 3:45 - 4:45 p.m.
SUNDAY, MARCH 23:
Atlantic warmup, 8:00 - 8:15 a.m.
Champ Car warmup, 9:30 - 10:00 a.m.
Atlantic race, 10:30 - 11:30 a.m.
Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix, 1:30 p.m.
U.S. TELEVISION SCHEDULE:
SATURDAY, MARCH 22 - SPEED Channel, Champ Car Qualifying, 2:30 p.m. (Live)
SUNDAY, MARCH 23 - SPEED Channel, Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix, 2:30 p.m. ET (Live).
NEXT EVENT: April 13, Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Long Beach, California