CHAMPCAR/CART: Detroit Target/Chip Ganassi Racing Preview

JIMMY VASSER AND JUAN MONTOYA, TARGET/CHIP GANASSI RACING; PRE-RACE FACT SHEET/NEWS RELEASE: DETROIT What: The Grand Prix of Detroit, round 13 of CART's 20-race FedEx Championship Series. When: Sunday, August 8, 3 p.m. local time...


What: The Grand Prix of Detroit, round 13 of CART's 20-race FedEx Championship Series.

When: Sunday, August 8, 3 p.m. local time (broadcast on ABC-TV Sunday at 4 p.m. EST). Practice -- Friday, Aug. 6. Qualifying -- Saturday, Aug 7.

Where: Raceway on Belle Isle, a 2.346-mile temporary street course in Detroit, Mich.

History: Jimmy Vasser started seventh and finished sixth in the 1998 Grand Prix of Detroit. Former Team Target driver Alex Zanardi started second and won the race.

Fast Facts: * Target/Chip Ganassi Racing is the defending Grand Prix of Detroit winner. * Team Target rookie Juan Montoya is leading the PPG Cup point standings with 129 points and Vasser ranks 11th with 44 points. * Montoya has won four races in 1999 (Long Beach, Nazareth, Rio and Cleveland). * Montoya has scored points in 10 of his 12 CART races and has finished on the podium in six races. * Nigel Mansell holds the CART rookie record for wins with five in 1993. * Target/Chip Ganassi Racing has been on the podium in 30 of the last 39 races dating back to the 1997 race in Cleveland. * Jimmy Vasser has completed 61 of his last 70 races dating back to Cleveland in 1995. * Target/Chip Ganassi Racing is in pursuit of an unprecedented fourth straight CART championship. * Montoya became the first rookie in CART history to win three straight races when he took the checkered flag at the May 15 Rio 200. * Over the course of the season's first 12 races, Montoya's average starting position is fourth. * Target/Chip Ganassi Racing has earned five pole positions in 1999. Vasser earned his first pole at the U.S. 500. Montoya started No. 1 in Nazareth, St. Louis, Portland and Cleveland. * Vasser's best finish in Detroit is second place in 1996.

St. Jude:

* The team continues to donate $5,000 for each race win, $1,000 for each pole position and $25 for each lap led to Target House at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, a comfortable place for patients and their families to stay while the children receive treatment. During the 1997 season, the team raised $46,275 for Target House. Target matched the donation and awarded St. Jude Hospital a $100,000 check. In 1998, Team Target's success on the track resulted in a $71,875 donation to St. Jude. So far in 1999, the team has raised $42,350 for Target House. * Target House opened on May 17, 1999. Joining Montoya, Vasser and Chip Ganassi in Memphis to celebrate the grand opening were golfer Tiger Woods, singer Amy Grant, figure skater Scott Hamilton and many others who helped make Target House a reality.

QUICK QUOTES: Jimmy Vasser, No. 12 Target Honda-Reynard: "I haven't had a lot of success recently in Detroit, but you can't let that affect you heading into a race. In Detroit it's important to qualify well since it's such a tough course to pass on. We've done a good job qualifying the past few races and the pole the other weekend (U.S. 500) really gave the team a boost of confidence. With seven races left, it's time for us to make a move if we want to be near the top toward the end of the season. I'm confident that Detroit is a race where we can earn some good points."

Juan Montoya, No. 4 Target Honda-Reynard: "I'm really looking forward to the Detroit race, mostly because it's not 500 miles long. The U.S. 500 was fun, but,'s a lot of work. I watched the Detroit race on television last year and it looks like a good course. Not a lot of room for passing, but I think I'll be able to find one or two places to get by people. This is the kind of race where I'm happy to have one of the best pit crews in the series. They can give you a few places during a race if you're having trouble passing on the track. It should be good."

Q & A With Team Target Rookie Juan Montoya

DETROIT, Mich. -- Entering the 1999 CART FedEx Championship Series, no one knew exactly what to expect from Target/Chip Ganassi Racing rookie Juan Montoya -- including Montoya. With 12 races complete, it is now perfectly clear what to expect from the four-race winner and PPG points leader -- a lot. With nearly a third of the season complete, Montoya offers his thoughts on a variety of topics.

Q: What has surprised you most about the CART FedEx Championship Series during your rookie year? A: The big differences in each track is a surprise, since this year is the first time seeing most of them. Every track is very unique and it takes awhile to get used to them. Even the ovals are very different from each other. Each track is a surprise, but it's a good surprise. It's never boring -- there's always something new to learn and improve on.

Q: How were you able to adjust so quickly to the new circuits and become the points leader? A: It's not one big reason, but a lot of little things. It has surprised me, too. I was always confident in my abilities and I knew I was coming to the best team with a great car, but I wouldn't have guessed I would have four wins this year. I feel very lucky to be a part of this team with a great teammate like Jimmy (Vasser) and a great car and sponsors. Morris Nunn (Montoya's engineer) has been a very big help, too. He knows everything about the circuits and is always willing to talk about the car or anything I might need help with.

Q: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment of the season so far? A: I'm very proud of the win in Nazareth. That was my first real oval win and no one really expected me to race very well there. It was right after the win in Long Beach, so it really gave me and the team confidence and made people realize that I did belong in the CART series.

Q: Is there anything you've been disappointed with this year? A: The two straight races where I didn't earn any points (Elkhart Lake and Toronto) were very disappointing. I had been racing well, and it's not good when you leave a race with no points. That's one thing I've tried to concentrate on -- getting points in each race. Sometimes you can't control it, but one of my goals this season was to finish every race, so I'm disappointed I couldn't do that.

Q: With seven races remaining, you have a 13-point lead in the PPG point standings and appear to be in the driver's seat for the championship. Does that change how you approach each race? A: No way. If I were 200 points ahead or 200 points behind, I would still go to each race wanting to win. There are still a lot of races left, and I don't even like to look at the standings. Winning our team's fourth championship is a goal, but I never look past the next race. There are so many good drivers in the series and so many tough tracks that if you're not concentrating at each race, you'll have trouble.

Q: Is there one thing you hope to improve on during the next seven races and in the upcoming years? A: One thing I've learned from Jimmy is how important it is to know the car and get a good feel for it. I think I'm pretty good at helping Morris with major car problems, but for small things, I just say 'give me the car and I'll be fine' instead of trying to make the car perfect. As I drive the car more I'll be smarter about it, but that's one thing I want to work on.

Q: Have your friends and family in Colombia (Montoya's birthplace) been able to follow your successful season? A: Not just friends and family, it's the whole country. Whoa. Everywhere I go in Colombia people know me and say they watch the races. I had no idea there were so many race fans in back home.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Alex Zanardi , Nigel Mansell , Morris Nunn , Chip Ganassi
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing