CHAMPCAR/CART: FedEx Championship Series Happenings; May 3, 2000

During 22 seasons covering 327 FedEx Championship Series events, only 29 times has a CART driver claimed victory from a double-digit position on the starting grid. Remarkably, it has already happened in each of the three completed events of the...

During 22 seasons covering 327 FedEx Championship Series events, only 29 times has a CART driver claimed victory from a double-digit position on the starting grid.

Remarkably, it has already happened in each of the three completed events of the 2000 season, most recently in Sunday's Rio 200, in which Adrian Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford Reynard) drove from the 16th starting position to victory.

Fernandez' victory follows those of Max Papis (Miller Lite Ford Reynard), who drove from 13th to first in the FedEx Championship Series season opener at Homestead; and Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard), who drove from 17th to the checkered flag at Long Beach.

Only once prior to this season have drivers recorded triumphs from double-digit starting positions in consecutive events. That occurred in 1987, when Roberto Guerrero drove from 22nd to first at Phoenix in Round Two, and Al Unser drove from 20th to victory at Indianapolis in Round Three.

On only three prior occasions has it happened as many as three times in a season, topped by last year, when the feat was accomplished four times. Michael Andretti turned the trick from 11th at Gateway and was followed by Tony Kanaan from 11th at Michigan, Juan Montoya from 10th at Chicago and Fernandez from 13th at California Speedway.

The feat was also accomplished three times in 1994 and '98. In '94, Al Unser Jr. won from 11th at Milwaukee, Scott Goodyear from 12th at Michigan and Unser Jr. again from 10th at New Hampshire. In '98, Alex Zanardi won from 11th at both Long Beach and Gateway and Greg Moore won from 14th at Michigan.

Additionally, Papis' victory at Homestead was the fourth-deepest position on the grid from which a driver has claimed victory on a short oval, while Tracy's win at Long Beach was the second-deepest on a road or street course, exceeded only by Al Unser Jr.'s drive from 19th to victory at Miami in 1986.

* TOYOTA TAKES CHARGE

The 2000 season has also seen Toyota step up as a consistent contender in the FedEx Championship Series, with Jimmy Vasser (Target Toyota Lola) setting the engine manufacturer's "best-ever finish" bar higher with each succeeding round of the championship. Coming into the season, Toyota's best finish in four years of FedEx Championship Series competition had been Cristiano da Matta's fourth at Nazareth last year. Vasser matched that in the season opener at Homestead, and has improved on it ever since, with finishes of third at Long Beach and last week's runner-up effort at Rio de Janeiro. Vasser has scored all of Toyota's 42 points in the CART Manufacturer's Championship. Toyota currently stands third in the Manufacturer's Championship, but is only 12 points out of the lead currently held by Ford (54).

* A SWIFT RETURN

Swift Engineering and Dale Coyne Racing announced Monday that they have formed a new FedEx Championship Series entry which will debut at the May 13 Firestone Firehawk 500 at Twin Ring Motegi, Japan. The Ford-powered Swift will be driven by Brazilian Tarso Marques with sponsorship from Panasonic. Team management personnel will be supplied by Swift from its San Clemente, Calif.-based operation. Peter Scott and Casper van der Schoot, formerly of Hogan Racing, will serve as team manager and chief engineer, respectively. Marques made six starts in the FedEx Championship Series last season, with a best finish of ninth for Marlboro Team Penske at Rio de Janeiro. He also did some testing for Dale Coyne Racing during the 1999 pre-season. Swift competed for the FedEx Championship Series Constructor's Championship from 1997-99, with four victories and 21 additional podium finishes in 157 starts. Its best championship finish came from Michael Andretti, who finished fourth last year.

* A SOLID START

Luiz Garcia Jr. (Hollywood/Embratel/Tang/Banco Sofisa Mercedes Reynard) has put together consecutive points-paying finishes in his first season with the newly formed Arciero Project Racing Group. Garcia finished 12th at Long Beach on April 16, then followed up with another 12th-place effort at Rio de Janeiro last weekend. They marked the first points-paying results of Garcia's two-year FedEx Championship Series career.

* CART CHAIRMAN AND CEO ANDREW CRAIG TO ADDRESS STUDENTS

CART Chairman and CEO Andrew Craig will be making a presentation and answering questions on motorsports from the general Ohio University student population as well as the graduate students in the Ohio Sports Administration Program today and Thursday in Athens, Ohio.

Craig will speak about the world motorsports environment, with a specific focus on CART, its three racing series and its position in the racing industry. Joining Craig for the presentations will be Ron Richards, CART's Vice President of Communications, a 1976 graduate of the Ohio University program which accepted its first students in 1966 and is recognized as one of the top Sports Administration and Management graduate programs in the country.

* FedEx CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES LEADERS

FedEx Championship Series points, earnings and Manufacturer's Championship leaders heading into the May 13 Firestone Firehawk 500 at Twin Ring Motegi, Japan:

<pre> Points

1.  Paul Tracy, Team KOOL Green                 48
2.  Jimmy Vasser, Target/Chip Ganassi Racing    42
3.  Roberto Moreno, Patrick Racing              28
4.  Max Papis, Team Rahal                       20
5.  Adrian Fernandez, Patrick Racing            20

Earnings

1.  Paul Tracy, Team KOOL Green                 $200,000
2.  Jimmy Vasser, Target/Chip Ganassi Racing    $145,000
3.  Max Papis, Team Rahal                       $122,500
4.  Roberto Moreno, Patrick Racing              $102,500
5.  Adrian Fernandez, Patrick Racing            $100,000

Manufacturer's Championship

Ford Cosworth XF        54
Honda Turbo V6          52
Toyota RV8E             42
Mercedes-Benz IC108F    14                      

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Scott Goodyear , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Roberto Guerrero , Max Papis , Adrian Fernandez , Tarso Marques , Roberto Moreno , Paul Tracy , Alex Zanardi , Tony Kanaan , Al Unser Sr. , Chip Ganassi , Greg Moore , Dale Coyne , Cristiano da Matta , Luiz Garcia Jr.
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Dale Coyne Racing