CHAMPCAR/CART: Series Happenings 2000-05-17

Sunday's victory in the rain-delayed Firestone Firehawk 500 at Twin Ring Motegi, Japan added considerably to the legend being built by Michael Andretti (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola) of Newman/Haas Racing during his 17 years of FedEx ...

Sunday's victory in the rain-delayed Firestone Firehawk 500 at Twin Ring Motegi, Japan added considerably to the legend being built by Michael Andretti (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola) of Newman/Haas Racing during his 17 years of FedEx Championship Series competition.

The win raised Andretti's total to 39, extending his CART career record and allowing him to tie Al Unser for third place on the all-time Champ Car list. Only Michael's father, Mario, with 52 wins, and A.J. Foyt, with 69, stand ahead of Michael and the senior Unser in all-time Champ Car annals.

The victory also allowed Michael, a member of the inaugural 1999 CART All-Star Team, to establish a CART record for most seasons with at least one victory (13), breaking a tie with three-time series champion Rick Mears. Supportive of the level of competitiveness and longevity suggested by that record is the fact that Andretti has now recorded victories at 16 of the 20 active venues in the FedEx Championship Series.

Only Rio de Janeiro, California Speedway, Houston and Chicago Motor Speedway have yet to play host to an Andretti victory, and among that group, only Rio de Janeiro (5) has hosted more than three FedEx Championship Series events. California Speedway has hosted three, Houston two and Chicago one.

Milwaukee and Toronto share the top spot on the Andretti victory parade, having hosted five each. He also owns multiple victories at Road America (3), Vancouver (3), Portland (3), Homestead (2), Nazareth (2), Detroit (2), Laguna Seca (2), Mid-Ohio (2) and Michigan Speedway (2).

Here's the breakdown of his victories at current venues (36):

Milwaukee (5) - 1986, '87, '91, '92, '96. Laguna Seca (2) - 1991, '92 Toronto (5) - 1989, '91, '92, '94, '95. Mid-Ohio (2) - 1990, '91. Road America (3) - 1990, '91, '96. Michigan Speedway (2) - 1987, 1989. Vancouver (3) - 1991, '92, '96. Long Beach - 1986. Portland (3) - 1990, '91, '92. Cleveland - 1991. Homestead (2) - 1997, '98. Australia - 1994. Nazareth (2) - 1987, '96. Gateway - 1999. Detroit (2) - 1990, '96. Japan - 2000.

His three other wins came at Phoenix (1986), Miami (1987) and the Meadowlands (1990). Andretti has also won at least one event in each of the last 11 seasons in which he has competed in the FedEx Championship Series, dating to 1989. He did not compete in the 1993 championship, when he drove for the McLaren Formula One team.

* ALMOST THERE

In six previous seasons of FedEx Championship Series competition encompassing 61 starts, Roberto Moreno (Visteon Patrick Racing Ford Reynard) of Patrick Racing had posted a total of three podium finishes, including a career-best runner-up effort at Laguna Seca last year. Through just four events this campaign, Moreno has recorded a pair of podiums, matching his career best with a second at Homestead in the season opener and taking third at Sunday's Firestone Firehawk 500 in Japan. He is currently tied with Jimmy Vasser (Target Toyota Lola) for second in the championship with 42 points. Moreno's previous best championship finish was 14th last year.

* TWO FOURTHS MAKE HIM FOURTH

Cristiano da Matta (Pioneer/MCI WorldCom Toyota Reynard) of PPI Motorsports has enjoyed a recent run of success that has powered him into a tie for fourth place in the FedEx Championship Series championship. Da Matta, the 1998 Dayton Indy Lights champion, has matched a career-best fourth place finish recorded at Nazareth Speedway last year in back-to-back events at Rio de Janeiro and Japan. With 25 points, just seven shy of the 32 he posted during his entire rookie season last year, da Matta is currently tied with Max Papis (Miller Lite Ford Reynard) for fourth in the driver's standings.

* FONTANA CLEARED

Della Penna Motorsports rookie driver Norberto Fontana (Della Penna VideoMatch Toyota Reynard) was cleared to return to competition this morning by Dr. Terry Trammell, CART's Chief Orthopedic Consultant. Fontana briefly lost consciousness after an accident last Friday during practice for the Firestone Firehawk 500 at Motegi, Japan. He is currently recuperating at his hometown of Buenos Aires, Argentina and will return to competition at next Saturday's rescheduled Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix Presented by Toyota at Nazareth Speedway.

* FedEx CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES LEADERS

FedEx Championship Series points, earnings and Manufacturer's Championship leaders heading into the rescheduled Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix Presented by Toyota, Saturday, May 27 at Nazareth Speedway:

Points

1.  Paul Tracy, Team KOOL Green                 56
2.  Jimmy Vasser, Target/Chip Ganassi Racing    42
3.  Roberto Moreno, Patrick Racing              42
4.  Max Papis, Team Rahal                       25
5.  Cristiano da Matta, PPI Motorsports         25

Earnings

1.  Paul Tracy, Team KOOL Green                 $225,000
2.  Roberto Moreno, Patrick Racing              $152,500
3.  Jimmy Vasser, Target/Chip Ganassi Racing    $145,000
4.  Max Papis, Team Rahal                       $142,500
5.  Adrian Fernandez, Patrick Racing            $116,500

Manufacturer's Championship

Ford Cosworth XF        74
Honda Turbo V8          68
Toyota RV8E             56
Mercedes-Benz IC108F    15                      

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Max Papis , Adrian Fernandez , Roberto Moreno , Paul Tracy , Rick Mears , Chip Ganassi , A.J. Foyt , Norberto Fontana , Cristiano da Matta , Al Unser
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing