CHAMPCAR/CART: Fontana: Ford Racing preview

CART RETURNS FROM AUSTRALIA TO RUN ON THE HIGH BANKS OF THE CALIFORNIA SPEEDWAY - The CART FedEx Championship Series returns from a week of sun, fun and a soggy race in Surfer's Paradise for this weekend's 500-mile race at the California Speedway...

CART RETURNS FROM AUSTRALIA TO RUN ON THE HIGH BANKS OF THE CALIFORNIA SPEEDWAY - The CART FedEx Championship Series returns from a week of sun, fun and a soggy race in Surfer's Paradise for this weekend's 500-mile race at the California Speedway in Fontana, California. Following the events of last week's challenging event that took place on the Gold Coast of Australia, CART and its drivers and teams look forward to running on one of the raciest tracks in all of motorsports. Last year's 500-mile event at the California Speedway was a memorable one, featuring 73 lead changes between 15 drivers and one of the closest finishes in CART history when Cristiano da Matta edged out Max Papis by 0.123 seconds for the victory and the $1 million payout.

MARIO DOMINGUEZ AND HERDEZ COMPETITION CLAIM MAIDEN VICTORY IN AUSTRALIA - In a season full of bad luck and misfortune, things finally went the right way for rookie driver Mario Dominguez as he won his first career Champ Car race in last weekend's rain-drenched Honda Indy 300 in Surfer's Paradise. Dominguez led only four laps of the soggy, crashed-filled event, but was in the lead after everyone made their second pit stops and rolled slowly to the victory behind the pace car after the CART called the race because of track conditions. The win propelled Dominguez into the lead for Jim Trueman "Rookie of the Year" honors and gave Herdez Competition its first-ever CART victory dating back to its origins as Bettenhausen Motorsports.

FORD DRIVER NOTES -         Patrick Carpentier - Notched his eighth top-five and 11th top-10 result of the season with a second-place finish last weekend in Australia. For the season he has now scored top-10 finishes in Monterrey [seventh], Japan [fourth], Laguna Seca [fifth], Portland [fifth], Toronto [10th], Cleveland [first], Vancouver [fifth], Mid-Ohio [first], Road America [seventh], Rockingham [fourth] and Australia [second]. Currently fourth in the championship standings with 131 points, which surpasses his previous career-high of 101 points established in 2000 when he finished 11th in the standings. Best qualifying result at the California Speedway was seventh in 1999 with his best finish of 10th coming last year.

Mario Dominguez (Rookie) - Scored his first career Champ Car victory in improbable fashion last weekend in Surfer's Paradise, assuming the lead for Jim Trueman "Rookie of the Year" honors in the process. The win was the first for Herdez Competition and the first by a rookie since 2000 when Bruno Junquiera won at Road America. For the season he has scored championship points in seven races and recorded top-10 finishes at Portland [10th], Vancouver [10th], Road America [eighth] and Australia [first].

Michel Jourdain, Jr. - Finished 10th last weekend in Australia to record his fifth top-10 result in the last six races. Extended his streak of consecutive points-paying finishes to 17 [a Team Rahal record] and is the only driver in the series who has finished all 17 races thus far this season. With top-five finishes this year in Monterrey [fourth], Long Beach [fifth], Japan [fifth], Milwaukee [fifth] and Vancouver [fourth], he is currently sixth in the championship with a career-high 105 points. Has two points-paying finishes in six career starts at the California Speedway, including 12th in 1998 and 11th in 2000.

Alex Tagliani - Recorded his second consecutive top-10 result in Australia [third in 2001] with a sixth-place finish. He has now scored points in 14 of the 17 races this season, including in 12 of the last 13, and is currently seventh in the championship standings with a career-high 103 points. The defending pole sitter at Fontana, he has sixth- [2000] and third-place [2001] finishes in two career starts at the super speedway.

Jimmy Vasser - Finished 12th last weekend in Australia to extend his streak of points-paying finishes to seven races. Has recorded 11 top-10 and four top-five results this season and currently sits ninth in the championship standings with 91 points. In 10 career starts at the California Speedway he has seven points-paying finishes and five top-10 and four top-five results, including a win in 1998, second in 1997, fourth in 1996 and fifth in 1999.

COSWORTH RACING CHAMP CAR WINS - Mario Dominguez's first career Champ Car victory last weekend in Surfer's Paradise, Australia was the 215th victory for Cosworth Racing in USAC- and CART-sanctioned races since it entered North American open-wheeled racing in 1976. Cosworth has won 169 CART-sanctioned races and 46 USAC-sanctioned races, including five victories in 1996 with the Ford-Cosworth XB engine during the inaugural season of the Indy Racing League [IRL]. Michael Andretti has won the most races using a Cosworth engine [25], followed by Rick Mears [20], Bobby Rahal [18], Mario Andretti [16] and Johnny Rutherford [16].

SPARK PLUGS - Michel Jourdain, Jr., is the only Champ Car driver this season who has finished every race and has scored championship points in every event ... Patrick Carpentier has two wins and eight top-five finishes through 17 races this season, eclipsing last year's total of one win and five top-five finishes ... Alex Tagliani has scored championship points in all but three races this season [Long Beach - DNF; Milwaukee - DNF; Rockingham - DNF] ... Jourdain leads all drivers by having completed 2,077 out of a possible 2,088 laps this season [99.5%].

-ford-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Bruno Junqueira , Max Papis , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Mario Dominguez , Mario Andretti , Rick Mears , Cristiano da Matta , Johnny Rutherford , Michel Jourdain