CHAMPCAR/CART: Chicago preview

Championship-Leading Brack Seeks Return to Winning Form in Target Grand Prix Presented by Energizer DETROIT (July 25, 2001) - After a momentary stumble, FedEx Championship Series leader Kenny Brack of Team Rahal is no doubt looking forward to ...

Championship-Leading Brack Seeks Return to Winning Form in Target Grand Prix Presented by Energizer

DETROIT (July 25, 2001) - After a momentary stumble, FedEx Championship Series leader Kenny Brack of Team Rahal is no doubt looking forward to his return to friendly environs for this weekend's Target Grand Prix Presented by Energizer at Chicago Motor Speedway (4 p.m. ET Sunday, live, ABC-TV).

The Target Grand Prix Presented by Energizer caps a run of six events in seven weeks, the most grueling stretch of the FedEx Championship Series season, and brings Brack back to the one-mile oval competition on which he has thrived since joining the series last year.

In five career starts on one-mile ovals, Brack (Shell Ford Lola) owns three podium finishes, including a victory at Milwaukee this season, and has never finished worse than fourth. His record includes finishes of third at Nazareth, fourth at Milwaukee and fourth at Chicago last season and a runner-up effort at Nazareth earlier this year.

Brack has also scored 59 of his FedEx Championship Series-leading 84 points on ovals this season, and has collected 385 of his series-leading 414 laps led on oval circuits. Those numbers should serve him well as he attempts to rebound from consecutive scoreless finishes at Toronto and Michigan International Speedway, the first time he has gone scoreless in back-to-back events since the first two events of his FedEx Championship Series career at Homestead and Long Beach last year.

Despite his recent run of misfortune - best exemplified when he and Team Rahal teammate Max Papis (Miller Lite Ford Lola) made contact 17 laps from the conclusion of last Sunday's race at Michigan Speedway while running fourth and first, respectively - Brack has managed to maintain the FedEx Championship Series points lead. With 84 points, he holds a three-point advantage over Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard) of Team KOOL Green, who stands second with 81 points.

Franchitti has finished on the podium in three of his past five FedEx Championship Series starts, dating to a runner-up effort at Detroit. He also earned a victory at Cleveland and a second runner-up result to Patrick Carpentier (Player's/Indeck Ford Reynard) at Michigan International Speedway last Sunday in a spellbinding race that featured 60 official lead changes at the start/finish line and an unofficial 167 lead swaps around the race track. Overall, Franchitti has scored in eight of 10 FedEx Championship Series starts this season.

Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard) of Marlboro Team Penske, the reigning Indianapolis 500 champion, stands third in the FedEx Championship Series championship with 75 points, followed by Michael Andretti (Motorola Honda Reynard) of Team Motorola, with 73. Andretti recorded a runner-up finish to Cristiano da Matta at Chicago Motor Speedway last year.

Da Matta (Texaco/Havoline/Kmart Toyota Lola), who filled Andretti's seat at Newman/Haas Racing this season, earned his first career FedEx Championship Series victory at Chicago while driving for PPI Motorsports last year. He stands fifth in the FedEx Championship Series with 67 points following last Sunday's fourth-place finish at Michigan.

All FedEx Championship Series entries ride on Firestone Tires, the Official Tire of CART.

The Target Grand Prix Presented by Energizer is Round 12 of 21 in the 2001 FedEx Championship Series. The series visits seven countries and four continents during the season and climaxes with the season-ending Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota on Sunday, Nov. 4 at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif. Thanks to a partnership between Marlboro, Toyota, CART and California Speedway, the winner of the season finale will collect $1 million, one of the richest paydays in all of motorsports. Christian Fittipaldi (Kmart Toyota Lola) of Newman/Haas Racing is the defending event champion. An additional $1 million, as well as the prestigious Vanderbilt Cup, will be awarded to the driver who wins the FedEx Championship Series championship.

Following the Target Grand Prix Presented by Energizer, the FedEx Championship Series takes a weekend off before resuming with Round 13, the Miller Lite 200, Aug. 10-12 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.

WHO'S HOT

* Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard) of Team KOOL Green has posted podium finishes in three of his past five FedEx Championship Series starts, dating to a runner-up finish at Detroit and including a victory at Cleveland. The run also includes a runner-up performance last Sunday at Michigan International Speedway. Franchitti has scored championship points in eight of 10 starts this season, including five of the past six, and has moved into second place in the FedEx Championship Series championship. He trails championship leader Kenny Brack (Shell Ford Lola) of Team Rahal by three points (84-81) entering this weekend's Target Grand Prix Presented by Energizer.

* Cristiano da Matta (Texaco/Havoline/Kmart Toyota Lola) of Newman/Haas Racing has scored championship points in four of his past five FedEx Championship Series starts, dating to a seventh-place finish last month at Detroit. Also included are finishes of seventh at Cleveland, 10th at Portland and fourth last week at Michigan. He stands fifth in the championship, with 67 points.

* Roberto Moreno (Visteon Toyota Reynard) of Patrick Racing finished 12th at Michigan to extend his scoring streak to five events and eight of his past nine. Included are podium finishes of second at Portland and third at Detroit. Moreno, who finished a career-best third in the 2000 FedEx Championship Series championship, stands 12th in this year's championship battle, with 44 points.

* Alex Tagliani (Player's/Indeck Ford Reynard) of Player's Forsythe Racing has scored championship points in five of his past six FedEx Championship Series starts, including a career-best podium result of second at Toronto. The run also includes finishes of 12th at Milwaukee and Portland, ninth at Cleveland and sixth at Michigan. Thanks to his recent run of success, Tagliani has moved from 26th to 16th in the FedEx Championship Series, with 30 points.

* Bryan Herta (Forsythe-Indeck Ford Reynard) of Forsythe Championship Racing owns top-five finishes in two of his past three FedEx Championship Series starts, beginning with a podium finish of third at Cleveland earlier this month. He also finished fifth at Michigan International Speedway last Sunday. Herta, who had scored in only one of the season's first seven events, has moved from 23rd to 16th in the FedEx Championship Series championship, with 27 points.

* Christian Fittipaldi (Kmart Toyota Lola) of Newman/Haas Racing has scored championship points in four of his past five FedEx Championship Series starts, topped by a podium finish of third at Portland. He also finished fifth at Detroit, 11th at Cleveland and 12th at Toronto. Fittipaldi, who also owns top-five finishes at Nazareth (fifth) and Japan (fourth), stands 10th in the FedEx Championship Series championship, with 49 points.

ON THE RIGHT TRACK

* FedEx Championship Series championship leader Kenny Brack (Shell Ford Lola) of Team Rahal has finished on the podium in three of four oval starts this season, with victories at Japan and Milwaukee - the first two of his FedEx Championship Series career - and a runner-up performance at Nazareth. He has collected a series-leading 59 championship points on ovals and has also led a series-high 385 laps on ovals, more than one-third of the 901 laps contested on ovals to date, and more than three times the total of second-place Tony Kanaan (Hollywood Honda Reynard) of Mo Nunn Racing, who has led 113 laps in oval competition. Brack holds an 84-81 lead over Dario Franchitti in the FedEx Championship Series championship chase.

* Rookie Scott Dixon (Powerware Panasonic PacWest Toyota) of the PacWest Racing Group has scored 41 of his 57 championship points on ovals, second among all FedEx Championship Series drivers. Dixon earned 20 of those points with a victory at Nazareth Speedway, which made him, at age 20 years, nine months and 14 days, the youngest driver ever to win a CART event. He also owns a podium finish of third on The Milwaukee Mile oval this season, and drove to victory at Chicago Motor Speedway en route to the 2000 Dayton Indy Lights championship.

* Cristiano da Matta earned his first career FedEx Championship Series victory - and the first in the six-year history of PPI Motorsports - at Chicago Motor Speedway last year. He led the final 51 of 225 laps and averaged 114.432 miles per hour en route to the triumph.

* Jimmy Vasser (Visteon Toyota Reynard) of Patrick Racing has scored championship points in both his appearances at Chicago Motor Speedway, topped by a podium finish of third in 1999. He also finished eighth last year. His best start at the venue is third in '99.

* Roberto Moreno joins his Patrick Racing teammate, Jimmy Vasser, as the only driver(s) to score FedEx Championship Series championship points in both career appearances at Chicago. He finished sixth last year and ninth in 1999.

MANUFACTURING SUCCESS

* Toyota-powered drivers have captured three of the past four FedEx Championship Series events contested on one-mile ovals, dating to Juan Montoya's triumph last year at Milwaukee. Victories from Cristiano da Matta at Chicago last year and Scott Dixon at Nazareth this season have also contributed to the run.

* Ford-powered drivers have captured the past three FedEx Championship Series oval events, getting back-to-back victories from Kenny Brack at Japan and Milwaukee, followed by last Sunday's victory by Patrick Carpentier (Player's/Indeck Ford Reynard) at Michigan.

* Honda enters the midway point of the FedEx Championship Series season as the leader in the FedEx Championship Series Manufacturer's Championship. Powered by a victories from Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard) at Long Beach and Detroit; Dario Franchitti at Cleveland and Michael Andretti (Motorola Honda Reynard) at Toronto, Honda holds a 174-154 lead over Toyota in the Manufacturer's Championship standings while Ford stands a close third with 151 points.

NOTEWORTHY

* Herdez Bettenhausen Champ Car driver Michel Jourdain Jr. (Herdez Ford Lola) will be the featured guest at the Banner Day Camp in Lake Forest, Ill. on Thursday as part of the CART Wheels for Kids program. Jourdain Jr., who recorded the first podium finish of his six-year FedEx Championship Series career with a third-place effort at Michigan International Speedway last Sunday, will visit with more than 2,000 campers, delivering messages about automobile, helmet and seatbelt safety and discussing his career as a FedEx Championship Series driver. Also on hand with be 2000 Toyota Atlantic champion Buddy Rice as part of his personal services contract with Team Rahal; the Shell show car and balloon car; an Olsson Engineering Toyota Atlantic race car and a race car provided by Chicago-based Dale Coyne Racing. This will be the fifth installment of the CART Wheels For Kids program, which is co-sponsored by CART, Ford Racing, Shell and Simple Green. Previous stops have taken place in Milwaukee, Detroit, Cleveland and Jackson, Mich. and future visits are planned for Columbus, Ohio and Houston.

* Team Motorola driver Michael Andretti, the winningest driver in CART history, will be joined by two of his crew members in singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the seventh-inning stretch of Thursday's National League baseball game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. The trio also plans a glove exchange with Cubs' All-Star outfielder Sammy Sosa. Joining Andretti, who claimed the 41st victory of his CART career at Toronto two weeks ago, will be Jeff Simon, Team Motorola's right rear tire changer, and Casey Eason, the team's data acquisition specialist.

ON THE AIR

* Qualifying for the Target Grand Prix Presented by Energizer will air 6 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN2. CART 2Day airs 11 a.m. Sunday on ESPN2, while ABC-TV's live race broadcast begins 4 p.m. ET. Twenty of 21 FedEx Championship Series events are being televised live on ABC-TV or ESPN and 18 are being televised live on Eurosport, a European network that reaches 250 million viewers in 54 countries. Sunday's race will also air on the CART Radio Network and on CART's official website, at www.cart.com .

-CART-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Max Papis , Roberto Moreno , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Christian Fittipaldi , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Kenny Brack , Buddy Rice , Dale Coyne , Cristiano da Matta , Michel Jourdain , Mo Nunn
Teams Team Penske