TOYOTA motorsports 2001 CART FedEx Championship Series Indy 300 - Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast, Australia Date: October 28, 2001 Broadcast: ESPN, Oct. 28, 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT Race Length: 65...
2001 CART FedEx Championship Series
Indy 300 - Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast, Australia
Date: October 28, 2001
Broadcast: ESPN, Oct. 28, 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT
Race Length: 65 laps for 181.675 miles
Track Length: 2.795-mile street course
2000 Winner: Adrian Fernandez
Toyota's Best Finish: 3rd, Jimmy Vasser, 2000
Toyota's Best Qualifying: 1st, Juan Montoya, 2000
Track Speed Records:
Qualifying: 1999, D. Franchitti (109.724 mph)
Race: 1999, D. Franchitti (91.849 mph)
Manufacturer's Championship: 1. Honda 316 2. Toyota 266 3. Ford 266
What to look for at Australia:
AUSSIE-BORN DIXON RETURNS DOWN UNDER LOOKING FOR ROOKIE TITLE - Born in Brisbane, Scott Dixon's moved to New Zealand with his family at the age of four. He returned to Australia at 16 to compete in the Australian Formula Holden (Formula 3000) championship - first winning rookie of the year honors, followed by a series title.
Now Dixon will return to the land of his birth hoping to clinch the FedEx Championship Series Rookie of the Year. The 2000 Indy Lights champion currently leads fellow Toyota rookie Bruno Junqueira (Target Toyota), 98-56, in the rookie race. Dixon can clinch the honor with a ninth-place at Surfers Paradise, regardless of Junqueira's finish in the last two races.
For Dixon, earning special honors is nothing new. Since gaining an exemption to begin racing against adults in Formula Vee at the age of 13 in his native New Zealand, he has four championships (NZ Formula Ford Class II, NZ Formula Ford Class I, Formula Holden and Indy Lights) and Formula Holden Rookie of the Year honors. In addition, he missed the Indy Lights rookie award by a single point in 1999.
To date this season, Dixon has one victory and a third among six top-five finishes and 10 top-10 showings. He became the youngest winner in major open-wheel racing history at Nazareth when he was victorious at 20 years, 9 months. His win was the first for PacWest since 1997.
DIXON, JUNQUEIRA BATTLE FOR ANOTHER HONOR - In addition to their battle for CART rookie honors, Scott Dixon and Bruno Junqueira also are both attempting to become just the seventh rookie in CART history to win more than one race in their first CART season. Should either win at Australia or Fontana, they would join Juan Montoya, Alex Zanardi, Nigel Mansell, Teo Fabi, Danny Sullivan and Bobby Rahal as the only CART drivers to win multiple races in their rookie seasons.
MOVING ON UP - Memo Gidley (Target Toyota) takes back-to-back podium finishes into this weekend's Indy 300 in Australia. At Houston, he drove from 23rd to third and then followed with an even more impressive 23rd to second at Laguna Seca. Along with a second at Cleveland, Gidley now has three podium (top-three) finishes for the season and four top-five placings.
Gidley currently sits in 15th-place overall with 62 points - 21 points away from the top 10 - despite the fact that he missed the first six races of the season before joining the Target Ganassi Racing team at Portland. Based on the 12 races that he's been with the team, and computing that over the full season, Gidley would join da Matta and Dixon in fighting for a top-five overall finish (he'd be eighth, just six points behind Dixon). Making the feat even more impressive is that before Portland, Gidley hadn't even sat in a Champ Car for more than seven months - since the 2000 season finale at Fontana - let alone be involved in off-season testing.
TOYOTA DRIVERS BATTLE FOR TOP-FIVE; TOP-10 POINTS FINISHES - Two current Toyota-powered drivers are in a battle for a top-five overall CART points finish this season, while five more are still hoping to land in the top 10 this season.
Cristiano da Matta (Texaco/Havoline/Kmart Toyota) is currently sixth in the points race with 100 points, while Scott Dixon is right behind him in seventh with 98 points - just five and seven points, respectively, out of fifth. In addition, Roberto Moreno (Visteon Toyota), Jimmy Vasser (Visteon Toyota), Christian Fittipaldi (Kmart Toyota), Memo Gidley and Bruno Junqueira all have hopes of a top-10 finish for the season. The five Toyota drivers currently rank 11th, 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th, respectively. Moreno is only nine points out of cracking the top five and only 12 points out of the eighth spot.
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON - When Rocky Moran Jr. won the Toyota Atlantic Championship race at Laguna Seca, he joined father Rocky Sr. as the only father-son combination to win major professional U.S. auto racing events in Toyota-powered cars. The elder Moran is best known for co-driving a Toyota Eagle to victory in the prestigious Daytona 24 Hours in 1993 along with PJ Jones and Mark Dismore.
JIM AUST, Toyota vice president of motorsports: "We have a lot of confidence going into Surfers Paradise since we were on the pole there a year ago and have been running very strong on the street circuits all season. With two races remaining, we feel good that we can match and surpass last year's total of five wins."