WHO'S HOT Â· Scotland's Dario Franchitti ( ...
· Scotland's Dario Franchitti (#27 KOOL Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) of Team KOOL Green notched his second win in the past four CART FedEx Championship Series races in last Sunday's Molson Indy Montreal, moving him from fourth to second in the point standings with 106 heading into the Shell Grand Prix of Denver. In addition to collecting 20 markers for beating points leader Cristiano da Matta (#6 Chevron Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) to the checkered flag, Franchitti scored a bonus point for leading the most laps (43 of 80) en route to his ninth career Champ Car triumph. Franchitti turned the fastest lap of the race on Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve's 2.709-mile permanent island road course and his two wins this season have both come on Canadian soil (Vancouver).
· With 161 championship points, six wins and as many poles to his credit this season, Brazilian Cristiano da Matta of Newman/Haas Racing heads into this weekend's inaugural CART FedEx Championship Series Shell Grand Prix of Denver coming off a second-place performance in Montreal that earned him 18 points for the weekend (16 for second and 2 for pacing both qualifying sessions). After showing the way in Montreal for 35 laps, he remains the leader in laps led with 526 out of a possible 1,632 (32%) and has led at least one lap at every road-course event this season.
· Mexico's Michel Jourdain Jr. (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola Bridgestone) continued his 2002 march of consistency at the Molson Indy Montreal with a sixth place finish after starting 15th. Jourdain has finished inside the top 10 in 12 of 13 rounds this season and is the only driver in the series to have scored points in every race. Jourdain is also the leader in laps completed, having ran 1,624 out of 1,632 thus far (926 road and 698 oval) and is tied for sixth in points with Christian Fittipaldi (#11 Lilly Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) at 88 points each.
· Tony Kanaan (#10 Pioneer/WorldCom Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) of Mo Nunn Racing is on the verge of salvaging what earlier this season, looked like a disastrous 2002 campaign. Kanaan, who has struggled the majority of the season, finished on the podium (third) in Montreal and notched his third top-five finish in the last four races. The Brazilian holds down the 13th position in the season standings with 57 points.
· American pilot Jimmy Vasser (#8 Shell Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) of Team Rahal comes into the Shell Grand Prix of Denver looking to improve on his second consecutive fifth-place result. Vasser is 11th in points with 67 entering Round 14 in the Mile High City and has high hopes this weekend as he represents the race's title sponsor.
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
· Although it's been over 10 years since the CART FedEx Championship Series launched its turbocharged, 800-plus horsepower Champ Cars through the Denver streets back in 1990-91, prepare for a reconfigured 1.622-mile temporary street circuit adjacent to the Pepsi Center to come to life this weekend in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains for a Labor Day Weekend show of speed.
· Michael Andretti (#39 Motorola Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) of Team Motorola scored a pole position in the 1991 Denver event when the race was held on a 1.9-mile street course. Andretti went on to finish third and captured the CART FedEx Championship Series Championship that season. In the inaugural Denver race held in 1990, Andretti started third and finished fifth. Andretti returns to Denver this weekend tied for seventh in points with Canadian Alex Tagliani (#33 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) at 82 points each.
· Honda was the powerplant of choice in Montreal last weekend as Dario Franchtti scored the win. Franchitti was followed by Honda drivers Tony Kanaan in third and Paul Tracy (#26 KOOL Honda/Lola Bridgestone) in fourth. Overall, Toyota-powered drivers have won seven of 13 CART FedEx Championship Series events contested this season with Cristiano da Matta (6) and Bruno Junqueira (#4 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone). Honda now has four wins between Dario Franchitti (2), teammate Paul Tracy (1), and technical partner Michael Andretti (1), followed by Ford-Cosworth thanks to Patrick Carpentier's (#32 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard Bridgestone) two Ohio triumphs. The hunt for the Manufacturer's Championship has Toyota (226) leading over Honda (202) and Ford-Cosworth (174).
· Lola has won 10 of 13 CART FedEx Championship Series events this season, including wins by Cristiano da Matta (6), Bruno Junqueira, Dario Franchitti (2) and Paul Tracy. Reynard took trips to victory circle in the remaining three races this season in the hands of Patrick Carpentier (2) and Michael Andretti. Lola leads 269 to 165 in the Constructor's Championship.
· New Zealand's Scott Dixon (#44 Coors Light Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) of Target Chip Ganassi Racing will be touting sponsorship from Golden, Colorado-based Coors Brewing Company under their signature Coors Light beer label in this weekend's Shell Grand Prix of Denver. Dixon sits 12th in points with 65 after a mechanical failure negated a top-five finish with three laps remaining in Montreal.
· Although no longer behind the wheel of a Champ Car, CART FedEx Championship Series analysts Scott Pruett (SPEED Channel) and Jon Beekhuis (CBS Sports) have more experience racing in the streets of downtown Denver than the current crop of international open wheel drivers competing in this year's event. Beekhuis competed in the inaugural CART event in 1990, starting 15th and finishing 22nd after contact with Dean Hall. Pruett started ninth on the grid in 1991 and managed to score a top-five finish, coming home fifth.
· Economic Impact: The Shell Grand Prix of Denver is expected to generate an estimated direct annual economic impact of over $30 million and an indirect impact of $150 million in Denver and the Rocky Mountain Region for the first year of the event. As a comparison, the 28th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach generates an economic impact of approximately $39 million annually on the cities of Long Beach and Los Angeles, Calif., and its attendees occupy about 5,000 local hotel rooms.
· The Pioneer Rock-N-Roar Concert Series will come to life Saturday, August 31st at 5:00 p.m. with rock band TRAIN. The concert is set to take place at the Universal Lending City Lights Pavilion at Pepsi Center and is free to all Saturday Shell Grand Prix of Denver ticketholders. Sheboygan, Wisconsin-based band AMALGAM won the CART Rocks Road America local band competition at the CART race in Wisconsin two weeks ago and with that, band members Erik Neave, 18, Nick Demaster, 18, Zach Vinson, 16, and Joel Stokdyk, 16 will attend the CART FedEx Championship Series Shell Grand Prix of Denver to meet TRAIN at the Pioneer Rock-N-Roar Concert Series stop.
· Bridgestone, the official tire of the CART FedEx Championship Series, has taken over the Pepsi Center ice for this weekend's Shell Grand Prix of Denver and created the Bridgestone Blizzak Chill Zone. Throughout the race weekend, Bridgestone will open up the Pepsi Center for free ice skating to race fans who want to come in and cool off. In conjunction with the ice skating, the Bridgestone Winter Driving School from Steamboat Springs, CO will conduct demonstrations on the ice to showcase how well the Bridgestone Blizzak ice and snow tires perform on icy conditions in comparison to regular passenger tires. Two identical Toyota Matrixes will be used, one with the Blizzaks and one without. The winter driving school professionals will have to negotiate a short course on the ice which will demonstrate the superior abilities of the Blizzaks in handling, accelerating and stopping. Throughout the weekend, some fans will be selected at random to participate in the driving comparisons as well...On Friday evening between 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Bridgestone will conduct a CART celebrity driving competition on the ice involving Champ Car team owners Chip Ganassi and Bobby Rahal, Champ Car driver Kenny Brack, CART President and CEO Chris Pook and Speed Channel TV announcers Tommy Kendall and Scott Pruett.
Shell Grand Prix of Denver, Denver, Colorado, Friday-Sunday, August 30 - September 1
CART SCHEDULE (All times local):
FRIDAY, AUGUST 30 - Trans-Am practice, 9:00 - 9:40 a.m.; Champ Car practice, 10:00 - 11:30 a.m.; Atlantic practice, 11:45 a.m. - 12:25 p.m.; Champ Car qualifying, 2:10 - 3:10 p.m.; Atlantic qualifying, 4:00 - 4:30 p.m.; Trans-Am practice, 4:50 - 5:20 p.m.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 31 - Atlantic qualifying, 9:00 - 9:40 a.m.; Champ Car practice, 10:00 - 11:15 a.m.; Trans-Am qualifying, 11:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.; Champ Car qualifying, 1:45 - 2:45 p.m.; Atlantic race, 3:30 - 4:45 p.m.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 1 - Trans-Am warm-up, 8:15 - 8:30 a.m.; Champ Car warm-up, 9:00 - 9:30 a.m.; CART Shell Grand Prix of Denver, 1:00 p.m.; Trans-Am race, 4:00 p.m.
U.S. TELEVISION SCHEDULE:
FRIDAY, AUGUST 30 - SPEED Channel, CART qualifying, 4:00 p.m. ET (Live); SPEED Channel, CART Friday Night, 10:30 p.m. ET.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 31 - SPEED Channel, CART FedEx Championship Series qualifying, 3:30 p.m. ET (Live).
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 1 - SPEED Channel, Shell Grand Prix of Denver, 3:00 p.m., ET (Live).