CHAMPCAR/CART: Detroit GP Preview

DETROIT (August 3, 1999) - Baseball has its dog days of summer, a time during which the season becomes more an endurance test than anything else and division championships are won by teams which refuse to wilt in the oppressive ...

DETROIT (August 3, 1999) - Baseball has its dog days of summer, a time during which the season becomes more an endurance test than anything else and division championships are won by teams which refuse to wilt in the oppressive heat. The FedEx Championship Series has its equivalent of the "dog days" in the current grind of six races in seven weeks which continues with this weekend's Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit at The Raceway on Belle Isle (4 p.m. ET Sunday, one-hour tape delay, ABC-TV). With events scheduled on each of the next three weekends, and five of the next six, the championship race should come into much clearer focus by the time the checkered flag falls following the 17th of 20 rounds at Laguna Seca Raceway on the afternoon of Sept. 12. Currently, the series is enjoying an ultra-competitive run which has produced nine different winners in the season's first 12 events, tying a series record established in 1985 (in 14 events) and matched in 1995 (17 events). As a result, even though rookie Juan Montoya has spent nine consecutive events atop the FedEx Championship Series point standings, the chase for the PPG Cup, and the $1 million bonus which accompanies it, includes as many as six other viable candidates. Montoya (Target Honda Reynard), the only driver to have won multiple events this season, has parlayed four victories and an equal number of pole positions into a series-leading 129 points. He has performed on every type of circuit, with a victory from the pole on the short oval at Nazareth, a runner-up effort on the superspeedway at Michigan, victories on the temporary street circuits at Long Beach and Cleveland - the latter coming from the pole - and a runner-up effort from the pole on the permanent road course at Portland. Montoya's runner-up performance in the most recent FedEx Championship Series event at Michigan allowed him to extend his championship lead over second-place Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard) from seven to 13 points (129-116). Franchitti owns podium finishes in two of three starts on temporary street circuits this season with a victory at Toronto and runner-up effort at Long Beach. He has been on the podium in six of his last eight starts on temporary street circuits dating to Cleveland last year. Michael Andretti (Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Swift) stands third in the championship with 107 points. A two-time winner at Detroit (1990, '96), his fourth-place finish at Michigan allowed him to top the 100 PPG Cup-point mark for the 14th time in his 16 years in the series. Christian Fittipaldi (Big Kmart Ford Swift), Andretti's teammate, rounds out the roster of 100-point scorers to date. He stands fourth with 101 points, however, Fittipaldi is sidelined from FedEx Championship Series competition as the result of a subdural hematoma sustained in a testing accident Monday at Gateway International Raceway outside St. Louis. Roberto Moreno will be Fittipaldi's replacement at Detroit. Other drivers who remain contenders for the championship include fifth-place Adrian Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Reynard Ford), fifth with 95 points; Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard), sixth with 90, and Gil de Ferran (Valvoline/Cummins Special Honda Reynard), seventh with 88. Andretti is one of four previous winners on The Raceway at Belle Isle in this weekend's field. The others are Tracy, who won in 1994; Robby Gordon (Johns Manville/Panasonic/Menards Toyota Swift), who won in 1995, and Greg Moore (Player's Forsythe Racing Ltd. Mercedes Reynard), who won in 1997. The Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit kicks off another skein of three FedEx Championship Series events in as many weeks. The series continues with the Miller Lite 200 on August 15 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Adrian Fernandez , Roberto Moreno , Christian Fittipaldi , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Greg Moore