DETROIT (September 10, 2001) - The most competitive racing series in the world takes an historic step this weekend when the FedEx Championship Series begins a two-week European trip with the German 500 at the EuroSpeedway in Lausitz, Germany (7:30...
DETROIT (September 10, 2001) - The most competitive racing series in the world takes an historic step this weekend when the FedEx Championship Series begins a two-week European trip with the German 500 at the EuroSpeedway in Lausitz, Germany (7:30 a.m. ET Saturday, live, ESPN).
The German 500 will mark the first European event sanctioned by Championship Auto Racing Teams in the organization's 23-year history. Following Saturday's 16th round of the championship, the FedEx Championship Series travels to Corby, England for the Sept. 22 Rockingham 500 at the new Rockingham Motor Speedway (7:30 a.m. ET, live, ESPN).
The recently constructed EuroSpeedway is just a portion of the 914-acre Lausitzring Complex, located approximately 135 kilometers from Berlin. A two-mile tri-oval, the EuroSpeedway is 60 feet wide through the straightaways, and 80 feet through the turns, with 10 percent (5.7 degree) banking. The state-of-the-art venue can accommodate up to 120,000 spectators.
Germany becomes the fifth country visited by the FedEx Championship Series this season, following earlier events in Mexico, Japan, Canada and the United States. The series is once again in the midst of one of its most competitive campaigns ever, as 10 different drivers have earned victories through the season's first 14 completed events, 19 of 26 regular competitors own at least one podium finish, and a mere 12 points separate the top four championship contenders.
At present, the lead is held by defending FedEx Championship Series champion Gil de Ferran (Honda Reynard) of Team Penske, with 115 points. Though he is not among of this year's 10 race winners, de Ferran has been remarkably consistent of late, with top-five finishes in each of his past four outings, including podium results of second at Mid-Ohio and Vancouver and third at Chicago.
Tied a mere five points behind de Ferran, with 110 each, are Kenny Brack (Shell Ford Lola) of Team Rahal and Helio Castroneves (Honda Reynard) of Team Penske. Brack has been the dominant driver in the series in oval competition this season, with victories at Japan, Milwaukee and Chicago and a runner-up effort at Nazareth. He has scored 78 of his 110 championship points on ovals.
Castroneves, the reigning Indianapolis 500 champion, has scored championship points in four of five oval starts to date, topped by a runner-up effort from the pole at Japan. He is tied for the series victory lead with Brack, having recorded road-course triumphs at Long Beach, Detroit and Mid-Ohio.
Michael Andretti (Motorola Honda Reynard) of Team Motorola remains well within reach of the championship lead, standing fourth with 103 points. Andretti, CART's all-time victory leader with 41, comes to Germany off back-to-back podium results of second at Road America and third at Vancouver. His best oval performance this season is a runner-up effort at Milwaukee.
All FedEx Championship Series entries ride on Firestone Tires, the Official Tire of CART.
The German 500 is Round 16 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.
* Defending FedEx Championship Series champion Gil de Ferran (Honda Reynard) has finished fifth or better in each of his past four starts, and as a consequence has taken the FedEx Championship Series championship lead for the first time this season. De Ferran's run includes podium finishes of third at Chicago, second at Mid-Ohio and second at Vancouver, in addition to a fifth-place finish at Road America. With 115 points, de Ferran leads Kenny Brack (Shell Ford Lola) of Team Rahal and Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves (Honda Reynard) by five in his bid to become the fourth driver to claim back-to-back FedEx Championship Series championships.
* Michael Andretti (Motorola Honda Reynard) of Team Motorola owns podium finishes in each of his past two FedEx Championship Series starts, second at Road America and third at Vancouver. With 103 championship points, he has moved within 12 of Gil de Ferran (115) for the FedEx Championship Series lead. The 14 points he collected for his third-place result at Vancouver allowed Andretti, CART's all-time victory leader (41), to top 100 championship points for the 16th time in his 18-year career and his 15th consecutive Champ Car season.
* Roberto Moreno (Visteon Toyota Reynard) of Patrick Racing has scored championship points in eight of his past nine FedEx Championship Series starts, highlighted by his second career victory in his most recent start at Vancouver. The run began with a third-place finish at Detroit and includes a runner-up result at Portland. Moreno has scored in eight consecutive starts on road or street courses, dating to an 11th-place finish at Long Beach. His victory at Vancouver moved him from 10th to eighth in the FedEx Championship Series championship, with 74 points.
* Rookie Scott Dixon (Nextel Powerware Panasonic PacWest Toyota) of the PacWest Racing Group owns five points-paying finishes in his past six FedEx Championship Series starts, including three top-five results. The run began with a fifth-place finish at Toronto and includes finishes of 10th at Michigan, fourth at Cbicago, 12th at Mid-Ohio and fourth at Road America. Dixon - whose victory at Nazareth made him, at age 20 years, nine months and 14 days, the youngest race winner in CART history - holds an 82-48 lead over Bruno Junqueira (Target Toyota Lola) of Target Chip Ganassi Racing in the battle for the $50,000 Jim Trueman Rookie of the Year Award. Dixon also leads the FedEx Championship Series in laps completed, with 1,809 of a possible 1,855, and miles completed, with 2,948.985 of a possible 3, 052.212. He stands sixth in the FedEx Championship Series championship, with 82 points.
* Alex Tagliani (Player's/Indeck Ford Reynard) of Player's Forsythe Racing has scored championship points with seven of his past eight FedEx Championship Series finishes, and has scored championship points in eight consecutive starts overall. His run is highlighted by a career-best runner-up effort at Toronto, as well as finishes of 12th at Portland, ninth at Cleveland, sixth at Michigan and Chicago, seventh at Mid-Ohio and eighth at Road America. Tagliani also claimed his second career FedEx Championship Series pole position in his most recent event at Vancouver, and went on to lead a race-high 68 laps before retiring due to a mechanical failure. He stands 13th in the FedEx Championship Series championship, with 51 points.
* Reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves of Team Penske has scored championship points in four of his past five starts, dating to an eighth-place finish at Michigan and including a victory at Mid-Ohio. Also included are seventh-place finishes at Chicago and Road America. Castroneves, whose three victories this season tie him with Kenny Brack of Team Rahal for the series lead, is tied with Brack for second place in the FedEx Championship Series championship with 110 points, five behind his teammate and defending series champion Gil de Ferran (115).
* Tony Kanaan (Hollywood Honda Reynard) of Mo Nunn Racing finished fourth at Vancouver to extend a run that has seen him score championship points in five of his past six starts, dating to a 10th-place finish at Toronto. Also included are finishes of eighth from the pole at Chicago, fifth at Mid-Ohio and 12th at Road America. His finish at Vancouver marked his best performance since taking third at Japan in May. He stands 10th in the FedEx Championship Series championship, with 66 points.
* Oriol Servia (Sigma Autosport Ford Lola) of Sigma Autosport comes to Germany off a season-best finish of fifth at Vancouver, his fourth points-paying performance in his last five FedEx Championship Series starts. He also gathered championship points by finishing 11th at Michigan, ninth at Mid-Ohio and 10th at Road America, and has moved into 20th place in the FedEx Championship Series championship, with 27 points.
* Kenny Brack leads the FedEx Championship Series with three victories on ovals this season, at Japan, Milwaukee and Chicago. He also owns a podium finish of second on the Nazareth Speedway oval, and has scored a series-leading 78 championship points in oval competition. Brack has recorded 443 of his series-leading 483 laps led on ovals.
* Scott Dixon owns three top-four finishes in his first five FedEx Championship Series career starts on ovals, including a victory at Nazareth. He also reached the podium with a third-place performance at Milwaukee and finished fourth at Chicago. With the addition of his finishes of ninth at Japan and 10th at Milwaukee, Dixon has scored championship points in all five oval events of his FedEx Championship Series rookie season to date.
* Patrick Carpentier (Player's/Indeck Ford Reynard) of Player's Forsythe Racing recorded his first career FedEx Championship Series victory at Michigan Speedway in July and also owns a podium finish of second at Chicago. Those two performances alone have accounted for 36 of Carpentier's 69 championship points to date.
* Thanks largely to Kenny Brack's three victories at Japan, Milwaukee and Chicago, Ford-powered drivers have won four of the five completed FedEx Championship Series events contested on ovals this season. Ford's other victory came from Patrick Carpentier at Michigan Speedway. Ford-powered drivers have also won three of the past four FedEx Championship Series events contested on two-mile ovals. The run began with a victory by Adrian Fernandez, then of Patrick Racing, in the 1999 season finale at California Speedway, and continued with wins by Christian Fittipaldi at California last year and Carpentier at Michigan this season.
* The Patrick Racing Team announced last week that it will field a third car for Dayton Indy Lights Championship Series leader Townsend Bell at each of the next two FedEx Championship Series events, this weekend's German 500 at EuroSpeedway and next Saturday's Rockingham 500 at Rockingham Motor Speedway in England. Bell, who will pilot a Visteon-powered Toyota Reynard, will join Roberto Moreno and Jimmy Vasser (Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard) to form the three-car effort. "We are pleased to have the opportunity to run Townsend at these two overseas races," said team owner U.E. "Pat" Patrick. "He has done an outstanding job in the Dayton Indy Lights Championship, which I created specifically for young drivers to give them an opportunity to display their talents. Both his tests with Patrick Racing [on August 12 at Mid-Ohio and Aug. 22 at Chicago Motor Speedway] went extremely well. Putting him in one of our cars for the next two races is the next logical step for both him and Patrick Racing." Bell, a 26-year-old resident of San Luis Obispo, Calif., drives the DIRECWAY Lola for Dorricott Racing in the Dayton Indy Lights Championship. He has recorded four victories and five pole positions in nine Indy Lights starts this season, and owns a 131-122 lead over rookie Damien Faulkner in the championship standings with three races remaining.
ON THE AIR
* The German 500 will air live in the United States on ESPN, beginning at 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday. The race will also air live locally on ARD, Germany's dominant television network, beginning at 1:03 p.m. Twenty of 21 FedEx Championship Series events are being televised live on ABC-TV or ESPN and 18 are being televised live on Eurosport, a European network that reaches 250 million viewers in 54 countries. A total of eight international broadcasters will be televising Saturday's German 500, including TV Azteca of Mexico; Automundo of South America; Rede Record of Brazil; Innovative Media of Canada; NTV of Japan; Channel 10 of Australia; SVT of Sweden and Mediaset of Italy. Saturday's race will also air on the CART Radio Network - which will provide audio to nearly one million American servicemen and women worldwide through the American Forces Radio Network - and on CART's official website, which will also carry Friday's qualifying, at www.cart.com .