CHAMPCAR/CART: Champion hopeful of repeat performance for 2001

FORT WORTH-DALLAS (April 23, 2001) - Sunday's Firestone Firehawk 600, presented by Pioneer at Texas Motor Speedway is the third stop on the 2001 CART FedEx Championship Series. For Brazil's Gil de Ferran, it is yet another opportunity to move ...

FORT WORTH-DALLAS (April 23, 2001) - Sunday's Firestone Firehawk 600, presented by Pioneer at Texas Motor Speedway is the third stop on the 2001 CART FedEx Championship Series. For Brazil's Gil de Ferran, it is yet another opportunity to move closer to his primary focus this year - repeating as the CART champion.

After finishes of second (Mexico) and third (Long Beach) to start the season, de Ferran is currently ranked second in the drivers championship standings coming into the race Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway. De Ferran gave Roger Penske his tenth national championship by driving his Marlboro Honda Reynard to the 2000 CART title. "There's certainly a lot of fire there, I can tell you that," de Ferran points out. "Everybody is really fired up, including Roger (Penske). I think the mindset is not really 'What are we going to do for an encore?' -- I think everyone on the team realizes it was really difficult to win one championship and it is going to be just as difficult to have as good a season as we had last year and win a second one. "Obviously, we fancy our chances. I certainly think we have a shot at the championship again, but I don't think it's going to be easy at all. I'm sure Helio (Castroneves, his teammate) is in the same mindset." For de Ferran, the run of podium finishes has been impressive with seven podium results in his last 11 starts. That streak also includes finishes of second at Mid-Ohio and Laguna Seca last year as well as third at Chicago, Houston, and California Speedway a year ago.

"The 2001 car doesn't feel very different at all from last season's car," de Ferran says. "It is a mild development over last year. Obviously, even though it's a small change, we are hoping to get quite a bit of performance out of it. Most of the mechanical systems are the same. Basically, the biggest development has been on the aerodynamics."

Whatever the changes, they have worked well for de Ferran and Castroneves. The Penske teammates rank second and third in points as they take the green flag Sunday for the Firestone Firehawk 600 Presented by Pioneer.

Tickets for the April 29 CART FedEx Championship Series Firestone Firehawk 600, presented by Pioneer, are available by contacting the Texas Motor Speedway ticket hotline at (817) 215-8500, by going on line to www.texasmotorspeedway.com and through Ticketmaster. Free tickets for the Motorola Radio Shack Qualifying Day on Saturday, April 28, are available at participating Radio Shack stores in the Fort Worth-Dallas area.

-TMS-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Roger Penske