CHAMPCAR/CART: Toyota Portland fast facts

<pre> TOYOTA motorsports 2001 CART FedEx Championship Freightliner/G.I. Joe's 200 Presented by Texaco Date: June 24, 2001 Broadcast: ESPN, 4:00 p.m. EDT/1:00 p.m. PT Race Length: 98...

<pre> TOYOTA motorsports

2001 CART FedEx Championship Freightliner/G.I. Joe's 200 Presented by Texaco

Date:                       June 24, 2001
Broadcast:                  ESPN, 4:00 p.m. EDT/1:00 p.m. PT
Race Length:                98 laps for 192.766 miles
Track Length:               1.969-mile road course
2000 Winner:                Gil de Ferran
Toyota's Best Finish:       5th - Cristiano da Matta, 2000
Toyota's Best Qualifying:   7th - Oriol Servia, 2000

Track Speed Records: Qualifying: 2000, HelioCastroneves (122.768mph) Race: 2000, Gil de Ferran (109.564 mph)

Manufacturer Points: Honda - 108; Toyota - 98; Ford - 78 </pre> What to look for at Portland:

BALANCE KEY TO TOYOTA TITLE ASSAULT - A balanced attack has keyed Toyota's efforts as the manufacturer currently sits second in the CART points race. Six different Toyota drivers have finished fourth or better in the season's first six events. Cristiano da Matta (won Monterrey, second at Long Beach), Scott Dixon (won Nazareth, third at Milwaukee), Jimmy Vasser (fourth at Nazareth), Christian Fittipaldi (fourth at Motegi), Bruno Junqueira (fourth at Milwaukee) and Roberto Moreno (third at Detroit) all have scored top-four finishes this season. A series-high five different drivers have scored Manufacturer's Championship points for Toyota compared to four for Honda and three for Ford.

JUNQUEIRA MAKING MOVE - After struggling at the season opener in Mexico, Target Ganassi rookie Bruno Junqueira has certainly made his presence known on the CART circuit. With a second in qualifying this past weekend at Detroit to go along with the pole at Nazareth, Junqueira has now qualified on the front row in two of the last three races. He also has registered three straight top-five qualifying efforts - a feat matched only by Helio Castroneves. In addition, he has registered top-10 finishes in four of his last six races including back-to-back top-five finishes at the IRL's Indianapolis 500 (fifth) and at Milwaukee (fourth).

FITTIPALDI MOVING UP - Christian Fittipaldi has quietly become one of the hottest drivers on the Champ Car circuit with three top-five finishes in his last four races. Only an incident at Milwaukee, where he tangled with lapped traffic while running fourth late in the event, has kept the Brazilian from four straight top-five showings and a top-five standing in the FedEx Championship Series points race.

DIXON, JUNQUEIRA CHASE ROOKIE CROWN - Toyota-powered rookies Scott Dixon and Bruno Junqueira continue to battle for the Jim Trueman Award as CART Rookie of the Year. Dixon currently leads with 38 points, while Junqueira is second with 23. After Dixon won earlier this season at Nazareth, a Junqueira victory would provide the earliest wins in a season by two rookies in CART history.

GIDLEY ON TARGET FOR PORTLAND - Former Toyota Atlantic star Memo Gidley will replace Nicolas Minassian in the number 12 Target Toyota for Target Chip Ganassi Racing at Portland International Raceway this weekend. Gidley has 22 previous Champ Car starts, including a partial schedule with Toyota power last year, earning a career-best sixth at Road America.

BACK ON THE RIGHT TRACK - After being caught up in others first-lap spins at both Motegi and Milwaukee, Cristiano da Matta put himself back on track at Detroit with a seventh to place him fourth in the FedEx Championship Series points race. Da Matta's Detroit run was made even more impressive considering he moved up 10 spots through the field on the tight Detroit track. The third-year Toyota driver was forced to start 17th after watching his fastest lap of qualifying wiped away by a red flag with da Matta just 30 yards from the start/finish line. His on-board computer had projected a lap that would have allowed him to start fourth.

TOYOTA MAKES NASCAR HISTORY - While the Champ Cars were in Detroit this past weekend, Robert Huffman was making history in Kentucky. Huffman drove his Toyota Celica to a Goody's Dash victory at the Kentucky Speedway "100" - the first for Toyota, and for an overhead-cam, multi-valve powerplant in all of NASCAR. Four-time series champ Huffman, who changed to the Celica this year, started from the pole and after dropping back after a cut tire, made a dramatic pass on the last lap to give Toyota its first Goody's Dash win in just its second season of competition.

Quotes:

Jim Aust, Toyota vice president of motorsports: "It's hard to imagine a more competitive championship anywhere in the world. After six races, each manufacturer has two wins and if things stay true to form, we're hoping that Portland will be a Toyota track. Our road course package has been very solid in 2001. In three races, we've finished first, second and third and we think we had as many as five cars capable of winning at Detroit. We need to get back to the Winner's Circle in Portland."

Memo Gidley, #12 Target Toyota: " Every day for the past two years I have prepared for an opportunity to race for a team like Target Chip Ganassi Racing. I can't thank Chip enough for giving me this chance to show what I can do on the track. This is a first-class organization with a tradition of winning. When I got the call this morning, I can't tell you how excited I was. Now I need to focus on the job at hand - to win a race for this team. This is a dream come true."

Cristiano da Matta, #6 Texaco/Havoline/Kmart Toyota: "If we had started in the front, we would have been able to think about a win in Detroit. That's the goal in Portland. Our Toyota power was good compared to the others. It was good to finish a race last week (after being caught up in first-lap crashes at Motegi and Milwaukee) and get some points. Now, I hope to add a lot of points to that in Portland."

Bruno Junqueira, Target Toyota: "We had a very competitive car last weekend in Detroit. The Toyota engine was very fast and Team Target gave me a great car and I think that we have a great chance to win in Portland."

-TM-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Jimmy Vasser , Memo Gidley , Bruno Junqueira , Nicolas Minassian , Roberto Moreno , Christian Fittipaldi , Scott Dixon , Oriol Servia , Chip Ganassi , Robert Huffman , Cristiano da Matta
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing