CHAMPCAR/CART: Toyota Mid-Ohio preview

Date: August 13, 2000 Broadcast: 4 p.m. ABC ET Race Length: 83 laps for 187.414 miles Track Length: 2.258-mile natural terrain road...

Date: August 13, 2000

Broadcast: 4 p.m. ABC ET

Race Length: 83 laps for 187.414 miles

Track Length: 2.258-mile natural terrain road course

1999 Winner: Juan Montoya

Toyota's Best Finish: 9th, Cristiano da Matta, 1999

Toyota's Best Qualifying: 10th, Robby Gordon, 1999

Track Speed Records:

Qualifying: 1998, Dario Franchitti, 123.766 mph

Race: 1994, Al Unser Jr., 110.770 mph

Manufacturer Points: Ford 211; Toyota 187; Honda 182; Mercedes Benz 52

What to look for at Mid-Ohio:

TOYOTA TO KEEP MOMENTUM - Coming off its first back-to-back win in Champ Car history, Toyota will arrive at Mid-Ohio looking for its third straight FedEx Championship Series victory. Juan Montoya registered a thrilling victory at MIS on July 16, with Cristiano da Matta notching PPI's and his first-ever CART triumph the following week in Chicago. Interestingly enough, in each case the drivers out-dueled Michael Andretti for the victory. Toyota now has three wins for the season.

DA MATTA MAKES MOVE IN CHAMPIONSHIP HUNT - In earning his first Champ Car victory, Cristiano da Matta made a sizable jump in the FedEx Championship Series title race. The second-year driver has now moved into fourth-place overall, just seven points behind third-place Gil de Ferran.

Over the past two months, da Matta and Andretti have been the two hottest drivers in the series. In the last five races, da Matta has scored 57 points, second only to Andretti's 76. In addition, the 26-year-old Brazilian has had four top-five finishes - winning at Chicago, third at Cleveland, fourth at Toronto and fifth at Portland. He also had been running in the top five at Michigan before a pit incident sidelined him.

SECOND AND GAINING - With two consecutive victories, Toyota has now passed Honda and moved into second place in the CART Manufacturer's Championship. The manufacturer has closed to within 24 points of Ford for the top spot after gaining 10 points in the last two races. What makes the performance even more impressive is that Toyota has cut into the lead despite having only five cars using Toyota power compared to Ford's 10.

LAPPING THE FIELD - After leading just 14 laps from 1996 through 1999, Toyota-powered cars have led a series-high 824 laps (out of a possible 1,874) in 2000 - 248 more than the next highest competitor, Ford (576). Honda has led 428 laps and Mercedes-Benz 46.

From a driver standpoint, Juan Montoya, the defending Mid-Ohio champion, has easily outdistanced the rest of the field in terms of leading the most laps. The reigning FedEx champ has led 691 laps this season - more than the next four competitors combined. Montoya has led more than 48 percent of the laps he's completed this season. Unfortunately for the Colombian, he's completed only 1428 laps due to a variety of mechanical woes.

GIDLEY NAMED TO DRIVE DIRECTV TOYOTA FOR DPM - After a pair of top-10 finishes in two starts in a substitute role in the Della Penna Motorsports DirecTV Toyota. Memo Gidley has been named to drive the car for the rest of the season. Gidley placed 10th at both Michigan and Chicago, following an eighth-place finish earlier this season at Rio while driving for Player's/ Forsythe. The former Toyota Atlantic ace also placed among the fastest drivers in last week's CART Road America test with most of the teams participating. Gidley registered five wins in two seasons of Toyota Atlantic competition, placing second overall in 1997 and third in 1998.

Quotes:

Jim Aust, Toyota vice president of motorsports: "We've won three in a row on the ovals, but now it's time to get that first road course victory. Our teams are really coming together and all five cars are capable of running in the top 10 at any given race."

Memo Gidley, #10 DirecTV Toyota: "I've really enjoyed driving for the Della Penna Motorsports team at Michigan and Chicago. I was impressed with the dedication and effort the team put in to both of those races. John, the team and I really see eye-to-eye on many things and I think this is a very good match. I feel the strength of Della Penna Motorsports is underestimated and

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About this article
Series INDYCAR
Drivers Robby Gordon , Al Unser Jr. , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Memo Gidley , Dario Franchitti , Cristiano da Matta