Chicago Grand Prix Date: June 30, 2002 Broadcast: CBS, 3:30 p.m. ET (Live) Race Length: 225 laps for 231.525 miles Track Length: 1.029-mile oval 2001 Winner: Kenny Brack Toyota's Best Finish: 1st, Cristiano da Matta, 2000 Toyota's Best Qualifying:...
Chicago Grand Prix
Date: June 30, 2002
Broadcast: CBS, 3:30 p.m. ET (Live)
Race Length: 225 laps for 231.525 miles
Track Length: 1.029-mile oval
2001 Winner: Kenny Brack
Toyota's Best Finish: 1st, Cristiano da Matta, 2000
Toyota's Best Qualifying: 1st, Juan Montoya, 2000
Track Speed Records:
Qualifying: 2000, Juan Montoya (167.567 mph)
Race: 2001, K. Brack (132.031 mph)
Manufacturer's Championship: 1. Toyota 110 2. Honda 91 3. Ford 79
What to look for at Chicago:
TOYOTA LOOKS FOR SEVENTH WIN IN LAST NINE CART RACES - Toyota will be looking to continue its dominating ways in the FedEx Championship Series at Chicago as the manufacturer looks for its seventh win in the last nine Champ Car events. During its current six-wins-in-eight-weeks streak, Toyota powered cars have won on street circuits (Australia), permanent road courses (Mexico, Laguna and Portland), super speedways (Fontana) and short ovals (Motegi, Japan).
TOYOTA SPORTS PAST TWO CHITOWN CHAMPS - After dominating the recent CART road course events, Toyota will send out the past two Chicago Motor Speedway winners as it looks for its second victory in three oval course events this season.
Series points leader Cristiano da Matta (Havoline Toyota) returns to the site of his first Champ Car victory at Chicago in 2000, while last year's winner Kenny Brack (Target Toyota) has designs on defending his Windy City title. The Swede's win a year ago was just one of four oval victories he registered on his way to second-place overall. He also won at Motegi, Milwaukee and Germany.
DA MATTA CLIMBS WIN LADDER - With an amazing streak of five wins in the last eight races, Cristiano da Matta now has seven career CART victories - tied for fourth among all active CART drivers. Even more impressive is that all of da Matta's wins have come in the last 35 Champ Car events. During that span, no other active CART driver has won more than four (Kenny Brack).
With his next victory this season, da Matta can join Brack and Target Ganassi drivers Juan Montoya and Alex Zanardi as the only CART drivers to win as many as four races in a season in the past five years. In addition, da Matta easily could have four wins in the season's first six races at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. He enjoyed a commanding lead (leading 30 of the first 31 laps) before he was taken out of contention when he collided with another driver while exiting the pits.
OVAL WINNERS - While they may be the only previous Chicago winners, Cristiano da Matta and Kenny Brack are just two of five Toyota-powered oval winners in the field. Bruno Junqueira (Target Toyota) won from the pole earlier this season at Motegi, Japan. His teammate, Scott Dixon (Target Toyota), became the youngest winner in major open-wheel racing history when he triumphed last season at Nazareth at the age of 20 years, 9 months. Dixon led16 laps on his way to a fourth at Chicago last year. In addition, Christian Fittipaldi (Eli Lilly Toyota) closed out the 2000 season with a victory on the Fontana superspeedway.
MAKING A POINT - Toyota drivers Cristiano da Matta and Bruno Junqueira rank one-two in the CART points race heading into Chicago with da Matta holding a 20-point lead over his boyhood friend. Da Matta's Newman-Haas teammate, Christian Fittipaldi, ranks fifth in the points. Since joining Target Chip Ganassi Racing at Milwaukee, Scott Dixon has registered three consecutive top-seven finishes to climb into seventh overall. Kenny Brack makes it three Target Toyotas in the top 10 as he comes in ninth.
BELL RINGING LOUD AND CLEAR - After a tumultuous start to his rookie campaign, Townsend Bell (Visteon Toyota) has earned consecutive top-10 finishes with a seventh at Laguna and a career-best fourth at Portland. The strong showings have given Bell a solid 13-point lead in the Jim Trueman Rookie of the Year standings. Bell has qualified in the top 10 in five of six races during his rookie season.
WHO'S NEXT IN TOYOTA ATLANTIC? - With five different winners in the season's first five Toyota Atlantic Championship races, the question begs to be askedwho's next at Chicago? A deep and talented group of drivers including Rocky Moran, Jr., Alex Gurney and 2000 champion Buddy Rice are all anxious to be the next in line. Jon Fogarty, Michael Valiante, Roger Yasukawa, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Luis Diaz have all claimed 2002 victories with Fogarty maintaining a two-point lead over Valiante in the points race.
Jim Aust, Toyota vice president of motorsports: "We've enjoyed quite a bit of success recently and we're hoping to continue with another Toyota win at Chicago. Yet, we realize that the FedEx Championship race is a marathon rather than a sprint. Our road course package has shown to be very strong, but we'll need to improve upon our Milwaukee oval track performance this weekend at Chicago. Fortunately, we have the past two race champions in Cristiano da Matta and Kenny Brack on our side."