CICERO, Ill. (July 29, 2001) - Kenny Brack of Team Rahal became the first three-time winner of the FedEx Championship Series season and added substantially to his championship points lead Sunday when he drove to victory in the Target Grand Prix ...
CICERO, Ill. (July 29, 2001) - Kenny Brack of Team Rahal became the first three-time winner of the FedEx Championship Series season and added substantially to his championship points lead Sunday when he drove to victory in the Target Grand Prix Presented by Energizer at Chicago Motor Speedway.
Brack (Shell Ford Lola) garnered his third victory of the campaign and his fourth podium result in five oval starts when he finished 4.480 seconds ahead of runner-up Patrick Carpentier of Player's Forsythe Racing to claim the 12th of 21 rounds in the 2001 FedEx Championship Series championship. Brack averaged a race-record 132.031 miles per hour en route to the checkered flag, and the 20 points he collected for the triumph made him the first FedEx Championship Series driver to top 100 championship points this season.
Heading into Round 13, the August 12 Miller Lite 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Brack, who has held the championship lead since Round 5 at Japan, owns a 104-82 advantage over Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard) of Marlboro Team Penske in the championship chase. Brack's margin entering Sunday's event was three points (84-81) over Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard) of Team KOOL Green.
Castroneves, the reigning Indianapolis 500 champion, earned six points with Sunday's seventh-place finish and collected a bonus point for leading a race-high 68 laps.
Brack took the lead under caution on Lap 207 when rookie race leader Scott Dixon (Powerware Panasonic PacWest Toyota) pitted for the final time. He led the final 19 laps to add to an impressive 2001 oval-track resume that includes victories at Japan and Milwaukee and a runner-up result at Nazareth.
In six career FedEx Championship Series starts on one-mile ovals over the past two seasons, Brack has never finished worse than fourth.
Carpentier (Player's/Indeck Ford Reynard), winner of last week's spellbinding FedEx Championship Series event at Michigan International Speedway, recorded his second consecutive podium finish, the first back-to-back podium results of his five-year career.
Carpentier has earned 36 of his 51 championship points in the past two events and has moved from 17th to ninth place in the championship.
Defending FedEx Championship Series champion Gil de Ferran (Marlboro Honda Reynard) finished third for his first podium result since third at Long Beach in Round 2. He moved from sixth to fifth in the championship with 72 points.
Dixon finished fourth for his best result since third at Milwaukee in Round 6 last month. He earned championship points for the seventh time in his past nine starts and added to his lead in the race for the $50,000 Jim Trueman Rookie of the Year Award, which now stands at 69-27 over Bruno Junqueira (Target Toyota Lola) of Target Chip Ganassi Racing.
Junqueira's teammate, Memo Gidley (Target Toyota Lola) finished fifth to continue his outstanding work since joining the team for Round 8 at Portland last month. The finish was his second top-five performance in five starts, including a career-best runner-up effort at Cleveland.
The Target Grand Prix Presented by Energizer was 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.
KENNY BRACK, Shell Ford Lola: "At last! We've been struggling for a while, but today everything came back. We had a little misunderstanding last week in Michigan, so it's good to be back here. That was a very good victory for the Shell Ford Rahal team. It was a schoolbook race, we had good pit stops, and it was pretty good, really. We were 12th when all was said and done after the second stop, but we just sat there and didn't take any chances. Then, everybody came into the pits and we were the leaders. There was about 15 to 20 laps to go, and it was easy from there."
PATRICK CARPENTIER, Player's/Indeck Ford Reynard: "To finish up ahead, you need a little bit of everything. This morning the car was not real good, but I had a good car during the race, just trying to save as much fuel as we could. This is the first time confusion paid off for me. I thought I wasn't supposed to come into the pits under the last yellow, but the guys were all set up in the pits. So we decided to stay try to go for it, because we couldn't come back in anyway, and we got lucky. There have been no changes to the team, it's just luck now. You need everything, you need good timing and everything to happen, and it's been happening for the team in the last three races."
GIL de FERRAN, Marlboro Honda Reynard: "I think the key has to start with yesterday afternoon. Obviously, we didn't qualify in the front two rows, but I wasn't terribly unhappy with the car. Nevertheless, we changed the whole car overnight. We ran this morning and I wasn't too happy with the car. We decided to change it all back, and we were tight on time, but we changed it all back. I started the race and I felt the car was great straightaway. In the beginning I was being very, very patient trying to conserve as much fuel as possible. At that point I was getting very confident with the car. On the second stop, that's where we really got the car fast. That really made our race. It's a total team effort today, but it's been a long time."
* FedEx Championship Series championship leader Kenny Brack (Shell Ford Lola) owns a particularly impressive record in starts on one-mile ovals since debuting in the series at the start of the 2000 season. In six career appearances on one-mile ovals, Brack has never finished worse than fourth. His record includes finishes of third at Nazareth, fourth at Milwaukee and fourth at Chicago last season and finishes of second at Nazareth and first at Milwaukee this season.
* Kenny Brack's victory was the fourth of the season for Team Rahal, a single-season record for the 10th-year team, which began operations in 1992. In addition to Brack's three triumphs, Max Papis (Miller Lite Ford Lola) has also reached victory circle this season, winning from the pole at Portland.
* Kenny Brack led 59 laps to increase his series-leading laps led total to 472. Of that total, 443 of Brack's laps led have come on ovals. Brack has led at least 54 laps in each of his five oval-track starts this season, topped by a race-high 130 en route to victory at Milwaukee.
* Patrick Carpentier (Player's/Indeck Ford Reynard) recorded his second consecutive podium result and the sixth of his career with Sunday's runner-up effort, which followed his first career FedEx Championship Series victory at Michigan last Sunday. Player's Forsythe Racing has now put a driver on the podium for three consecutive events, a run that began with Alex Tagliani's (Player'/Indeck Ford Reynard) career-best runner-up result at Toronto two weeks ago.
* Gil de Ferran's (Marlboro Honda Reynard) third-place finish was his third podium effort of the season, following back-to-back top-three performances of second at Mexico and third at Long Beach in the year's first two events. It was Marlboro Team Penske's best performance on a one-mile oval since de Ferran finished third at Chicago last year.
* Rookie Scott Dixon's (Powerware Panasonic PacWest Toyota) fourth-place finish extended an impressive record for the rookie on one-mile ovals. Dixon's mile-oval performance to date includes his first career FedEx Championship Series victory at Nazareth - where he became the youngest winner in major open-wheel history at age 20 years, nine months and 14 days - and a third-place showing at Milwaukee. Dixon has scored championship points in four of his past five starts, dating to a seventh-place finish at Portland, and including a fifth-place performance at Toronto.
* Memo Gidley (Target Toyota Lola) claimed a career-best oval-track result with his fifth-place performance in his eighth oval start. He led nine laps, raising his laps-led total to 134 in just five starts this season, a total that ranks him fifth in the FedEx Championship Series.
* Kenny Brack's victory was the series-leading fifth for Ford, enabling it to move ahead of Toyota and into second place in the CART Manufacturer's Championship. Through 11 rounds, Honda leads with 190 points, followed by Ford with 171 and Toyota with 166.
* Lola, meanwhile, scored its fifth victory of the season, one off the series lead held by Reynard, which leads the CART Constructor's Championship, 211-187.
* Alex Tagliani of Player's Forsythe Racing finished sixth to extend his streak of points-paying finishes to five, the longest active streak in the FedEx Championship Series. Included is a career-best runner-up result at Toronto two weeks ago, as well as finishes of 12th at Portland, ninth at Cleveland and sixth at Michigan. Now with 38 points, Tagliani has moved from 25th to 15th place in the FedEx Championship Series during his scoring run.
The Target Grand Prix Presented by Energizer concluded the busiest stretch of the FedEx Championship Series, with six events in seven weeks. The series continues with Round 13, the Miller Lite 200, August 10-12 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.