Notes and Quotes from Championship Auto Racing Teams, May 19, 1999 PacWest Racing Group owner Bruce McCaw announced Saturday that driver Mark Blundell (Motorola PacWest Mercedes) would be sidelined from FedEx Championship Series competition for...
Notes and Quotes from Championship Auto Racing Teams, May 19, 1999
PacWest Racing Group owner Bruce McCaw announced Saturday that driver Mark Blundell (Motorola PacWest Mercedes) would be sidelined from FedEx Championship Series competition for another four to six weeks. Blundell is continuing his recovery from a small fracture of the seventh cervical vertebra sustained in a May 4 testing accident at Gateway International Raceway. The injury was diagnosed while Blundell was being treated by physicians near his Phoenix home. Blundell, in his fourth year with the team and in the FedEx Championship Series, will wear a cervical collar during his recovery. "Mark has an injury that is not really seen in any sport other than racing," said Dr. Steve Olvey, CART Director of Medical Affairs. "He had a large collection of fluid in the low back area as a result of a very high-speed impact. When Mark returned home, he was experiencing some pain and discomfort in the neck and shoulder area. He underwent another CAT scan on his neck, as well as a bone scan, and they found he had a small fracture." Blundell saw his streak of 51 FedEx Championship Series starts come to an end at Rio de Janeiro as a result of the injury. "I'm obviously deeply disappointed to be missing races," Blundell said. "In one respect, I'm happy because the doctors found the problem. It could have been much worse. Although I won't be able to race at the Motorola 300, I'm planning on being there to support the team and Motorola in person." As he did at the Rio 200, Brazilian Roberto Moreno will fill in for Blundell at the Motorola 300. Moreno finished 11th in Brazil, scoring his first FedEx Championship Series points since a 10th-place effort at Laguna Seca in 1997. "We had a very successful race in Rio and I fit into the team very quickly," Moreno said. "The successful interaction between the engineers, the crew and I was extremely important - it was the only way we could be so competitive in a very limited amount of time. It makes it easier to come in on short notice when you're working with such a professional organization."
* CHICAGO UPDATE Construction of the new Chicago Motor Speedway in Cicero, Ill. continues on pace in preparation for the Aug. 22 Target Grand Prix, Round 15 of the FedEx Championship Series. Paving of the infield, including the pits, pit lane, transporter and paddock areas began earlier this month, and the one-mile oval has been graded in preparation for its being paved as well. The first layers of asphalt are scheduled to be down next week. The safety wall encircling the one-mile oval was recently completed, and construction has begun on the catch fencing. The infield tunnels are completely covered, and bleachers are being set in the state-of-the-art two-tiered grandstand, which will offer fans a view of the entire racetrack. The speedway has dispensed more than 100,000 ticket applications for the inaugural event, and more than 30,000 tickets have been sold. A number of media events have also been scheduled to help preview the event. The PacWest Racing Group has tentatively scheduled a pit-stop demonstration at the WGN-TV studios on June 7, a day after the Miller Lite 225 at The Milwaukee Mile. On June 26 and 28, Team KOOL Green drivers Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard) and Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard), respectively, will make media tours of Chicago print and broadcast media outlets. Continuous updates on the progress at Chicago Motor Speedway are available on the speedway's web site, at www.chicagomotorspeedway.com
* TARGET HOUSE DEDICATED FedEx Championship Series points leader Juan Montoya (Target Honda Reynard) and Target/Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Jimmy Vasser (Target Honda Reynard), the 1996 series champion, were in Memphis on Monday to attend the grand opening and dedication of Target House, which offers temporary housing for patients of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and their families. PGA Tour star Tiger Woods, Olympic figure skating champions Ekaterina Gordeeva and Scott Hamilton and Grammy Award-winning singer Amy Grant also participated in the dedication ceremonies. Target House is part of a $10 million partnership with St. Jude that was announced in 1996. The residence boasts 50 private apartment suites, each of which includes two bedrooms, a bathroom, kitchen and living room. Target/Chip Ganassi Racing has supported the Target House project for three years by contributing money to its construction for each victory ($5,000), pole position ($1,000) or lap led ($25) by its drivers since 1997. Thanks to Montoya's three victories, one pole position and 343 laps led, this year's contribution stands at $24,575 and the three-year contribution stands at $142,725.
* LIKE DRIVER, LIKE CREW When Alex Zanardi won back-to-back FedEx Championship Series championships in 1997-98, superb pit work by his Target/Chip Ganassi Racing crew was a large part of the reason. Though Zanardi has moved on, his crew has continued its outstanding work on behalf of rookie Juan Montoya (Target Honda Reynard). Through five rounds of the FedEx Championship Series, Montoya's crew is the leader in the inaugural Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge, which will award $50,000 to the top pit crew in the series at season's end. Montoya's crew has accumulated 46 points, two more than the crew for Tony Kanaan (McDonald's Championship Racing Team Honda Reynard), which stands second with 44 points. Points are awarded according to the same scale used to determine the FedEx Championship Series champion, but based on total time spent in the pits at each event. The crew for Greg Moore (Player's/Indeck Mercedes Reynard) stands third with 42 points, followed by the crew for Christian Fittipaldi (Big Kmart Ford Swift), with 37 points. Points will be accumulated through the first 19 events of the season, and the top four teams will compete in a specially staged pit stop competition at the season-ending Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota at California Speedway to determine the winner of the $50,000 grand prize.
* SERIES LEADERS FedEx Championship Series points and earnings leaders heading into the May 29 Motorola 300 at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill., just outside St. Louis: FedEx Championship Series Points for the PPG Cup 1. Juan Montoya, Target/Chip Ganassi Racing 66 2. Dario Franchitti, Team KOOL Green 51 3. Christian Fittipaldi, Newman/Haas Racing 49 4. Greg Moore, Player's Forsythe Racing 45 5. Adrian Fernandez, Patrick Racing 43
FedEx Championship Series Earnings 1. Juan Montoya, Target/Chip Ganassi Racing $329,750 2. Dario Franchitti, Team KOOL Green $190,000 3. Greg Moore, Player's Forsythe Racing $189,250 4. Adrian Fernandez, Patrick Racing $186,500 5. Christian Fittipaldi, Newman/Haas Racing $170,000