CHAMPCAR/CART: Montoya named most popular driver

FONTANA, Calif. (October 30, 2000) - For the second consecutive year, Juan Montoya (Target Toyota Lola) was tabbed the fan favorite and earned the WorldCom Most Popular Driver Award for the 2000 CART FedEx Championship Series season. Montoya ...

FONTANA, Calif. (October 30, 2000) - For the second consecutive year, Juan Montoya (Target Toyota Lola) was tabbed the fan favorite and earned the WorldCom Most Popular Driver Award for the 2000 CART FedEx Championship Series season.

Montoya collected the majority of the nearly 20,000 ballots received from CART fans around the world. Votes were submitted via the internet, at cart.com and worldcomracing.com, and through at-track and magazine entry forms. Michael Andretti who had the lead half way through the voting period, was the runner up and just 99 votes shy of Montoya. Rounding out the top five popular drivers were Adrian Fernandez, Jimmy Vasser and Paul Tracy.

"I was disappointed that I wasn't able to repeat as the CART champion this year, but I'm very excited to win a second straight WorldCom Most Popular Driver award," said Montoya, the defending Indy 500 winner. "It means a lot to me that people enjoy watching me race, because that's what I love to do. I'd like to thank WorldCom and the fans who voted, and remind them that without my teammates and sponsors, I wouldn't make it around the track once, so I accept the award on behalf of everyone at Target Chip Ganassi Racing."

As the WorldCom Most Popular Driver, Montoya was presented a check for $25,000, which will be split between his two charities of choice, Target House and Hospital Cardio Infantil in Bogota, Colombia. Target House is a comfortable home in Memphis, Tenn., where up to 50 St. Jude Children's Research Hospital patients and their families can live while the children receive treatment. Half of the money will also go to support programs at the Hospital Cardio Infatil in Montoya's native Colombia.

"All of us at WorldCom are pleased to see so many fans support CART racing and vote for their favorite driver. To see Juan Montoya win the award in its first two years of existence, says he truly is a fan favorite," said Andy Deas, Director of Sports Marketing for WorldCom. "As the Official Communications Company of CART, WorldCom is proud to continue with a program that allows the fans to participate. Juan Montoya is a true champion on and off the track and he will be missed by the CART community. We wish him all the best in Formula One."

As part of the voting, all fans who submitted a selection for their favorite driver were entered into the "WorldCom Mos Popular Driver Award Sweepstakes." This year's winner of a trip for two to the season-ending race at California Speedway was Harry "Corky" Zaron, an automotive service manager from Brighton, Mich. Through voting for Montoya and entering the contest, Zaron and his son, Travis, won an all-expenses paid trip to California. Zaron was on stage as Montoya was presented with the $25,000 check at the 2000 FedEx Championship Series awards banquet.

"This has been an exciting opportunity and it has been great to have the chance to get up close and personal with the drivers and spend time in the pits," Zaron said. "Montoya is a gifted young man, and I really like his driving style. To be able to win in CART and at the Indy 500 truly demonstrated his ability. I follow all forms of motorsports, but CART ranks as my favorite."

In his second season with CART, Montoya finished in ninth place in the points standings and captured three race crowns to tie for the series lead. He finished on top of the podium at Milwaukee, Michigan and St. Louis, and claimed second in Houston. He was the 2000 season laps leader with 820, leading twice as many laps as any other driver. Montoya also collected seven poles on the season, including a sweep of the short oval poles. He notched 10 total wins in his two-year career to sit tied for 10th place all-time in CART for victories. Montoya was the 1999 CART champion and WorldCom Most Popular Driver, and he is the defending Indianapolis 500 champion. He recently signed a two-year agreement to drive for the BMW Williams Formula One Team.

"We would like to congratulate Juan Montoya on winning the WorldCom Most Popular Driver award for a second time, and we want to thank the CART fans for participating in this successful program," said Pat Leahy, CART Senior Vice President of Marketing Communications. "WorldCom has been a great partner in getting the fans involved and helping offer one lucky winner the chance to meet his favorite driver. We hope Harry Zaron and his son had great weekend at the race and the banquet."

-- CART --

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Adrian Fernandez , Chip Ganassi
Teams Williams , Chip Ganassi Racing