FedEx CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES HAPPENINGS Notes and Quotes from Championship Auto Racing Teams, August 23, 2001 Target Chip Ganassi Racing owner Chip Ganassi reached a rare milestone Sunday when he became only the second car owner in CART history to...
FedEx CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES HAPPENINGS Notes and Quotes from Championship Auto Racing Teams, August 23, 2001
Target Chip Ganassi Racing owner Chip Ganassi reached a rare milestone Sunday when he became only the second car owner in CART history to win CART and NASCAR events on the same weekend.
Ganassi's teams captured CART's Motorola 220 at Road America - where rookie driver Bruno Junqueira (Target Toyota Lola) claimed his first career FedEx Championship Series victor - as well as the NASCAR Winston Cup event at Michigan International Speedway, with Sterling Marlin behind the wheel.
The accomplishment allowed Ganassi to join Roger Penske as the only team owners to do the CART/NASCAR double on the same race weekend. Penske has done it a phenomenal 10 times, most recently on June 18-19 of last year, when Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard) claimed his first career FedEx Championship Series victory at Detroit, and Jeremy Mayfield won a rain-delayed NASCAR event at Pocono a day later.
"Sunday was an incredible day for our race team," said Ganassi. "First, Bruno has a breakthrough win at Elkhart Lake. It was not only his first CART victory, but the first win for Team Target this year. That is certainly a feather in his cap; he did a great job. Then to top that off, the Winston Cup victory by Sterling Marlin was huge. That was our first win in NASCAR competition and also Dodge's first win since their return to NASCAR. In my position, running a race team with over 200 employees, you could only dream about days like this. And that dream came true for me on Sunday."
Not surprisingly, Target Chip Ganassi Racing and Marlboro Team Penske have been the dominant FedEx Championship Series teams of recent seasons. Marlboro Team Penske has claimed a series-high eight season championships, and fields the defending series driving champion in Gil de Ferran (Marlboro Honda Reynard).
Target Chip Ganassi Racing, meanwhile, put together an unprecedented streak of four consecutive FedEx Championship Series championships from 1996-99, with Jimmy Vasser ('96), Alex Zanardi ('97, '98) and Juan Montoya ('99) handling driving duties.
Castroneves is de Ferran's teammate at Marlboro Team Penske once again this season, and leads the championship with 110 points heading into the September 2 Molson Indy Vancouver (6 p.m. ET, tape delay, ESPN2). Memo Gidley (Target Toyota Lola) teams with Junqueira to form this season's two-car Target Chip Ganassi Racing effort.
* LIGHTS LEADER BELL HAS SECOND TEST WITH PATRICK
Dayton Indy Lights championship leader Townsend Bell conducted his second successful test in as many weeks for the Patrick Racing team on Tuesday at Chicago Motor Speedway in Cicero, Ill. Bell completed a total of 240 trouble-free miles on the one-mile oval, with a quick lap time of 24.28 seconds. "Overall, I think it was a good test, considering that it was my first time on an oval in a Champ Car," said Bell, whose previous test with the Patrick team came on August 13 at Mid-Ohio. "Just as in Mid-Ohio, Patrick Racing gave me a car that had a good setup. We fine-tuned the car for the weather and track conditions and then experimented with some different things. I learned a lot." Bell owns six career victories in the Dayton Indy Lights Series, four of which have come this season. He also leads the championship with four pole positions heading into this weekend's event at Gateway International Raceway. "Townsend did a great job," said Patrick Racing General Manager Jim McGee. "We ran on full tanks and tried several different things. He had a good feel for the car and was very consistent. We have been very pleased with both his tests. He has done an excellent job."
* FedEx CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES LEADERS
FedEx Championship Series points, earnings and Manufacturer's Championship leaders heading into the Molson Indy Vancouver, Aug. 31-Sept. 2 at Concord Pacific Place:
1. Helio Castroneves, Marlboro Team Penske 110
2. Kenny Brack, Team Rahal 105
3. Gil de Ferran, Marlboro Team Penske 99
4. Michael Andretti, Team Motorola 89
5. Scott Dixon, PacWest Racing Group 82
1. Helio Castroneves, Marlboro Team Penske $497,000
2. Kenny Brack, Team Rahal $493,250
3. Gil de Ferran, Marlboro Team Penske $371,500
4. Dario Franchitti, Team KOOL Green $371,250
5. Michael Andretti, Team Motorola $358,000