CHAMPCAR/CART: Fontana race day (Monday) track notes

Good Morning from nearly-sunny Southern California and the California Speedway for the completion of The Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota! Yesterday's initial running of the race was postponed at Lap 33 after a tenacious drizzle gave way to ...

Good Morning from nearly-sunny Southern California and the California Speedway for the completion of The Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota! Yesterday's initial running of the race was postponed at Lap 33 after a tenacious drizzle gave way to full-fledged rain, wiping out any chance of getting the race in before darkness would cover the California Speedway. And it was a good call, as the rain did not subside until after mid-night. But this morning, the low-hanging cloud cover is a forgettable memory, replaced now with partly cloudy skies and intermittent but strong sunshine. The California Speedway and CART Competition staff has been working the track since 6 a.m., cleaning and drying all portions of the 2.029-mile facility. It's a workday for most of the 80,000 fans that jammed the grandstands and infield yesterday which is a shame, but the VCR's will be running all over Southern California this morning for Champ Car fans waiting to see the conclusion of the race and the 2000 season!

Today's resumption of yesterday's postponed race will take the command to start engines at 9:59 a.m. The command to start engines will take place at 9:59 a.m. The CART Pace Car team will lead the remaining field of 23 cars off of Pit Road at 10 a.m. for the first of six parade/pace laps with the Green Flag flying at an estimated 10:10 a.m. The restart will be single file and the race will pick up the lap count at Lap 34. #1 MONTOYA is yoru leader, followed by #27 FRANCHITTI, #6 ANDRETTI, #2 de FERRAN, and #12 VASSER. The Pit Lane will be open during the Yellow Flag laps but as the race is already under way, any pitting cars will not be able to resume their respective positions in the Yellow Flag line-up.

During yesterday's rain-induced downtime, all competitors were able to service their cars with any normal Pit Stop operations, which includes topping off all tanks with fuel as well as any tire changes that the competitors deem necessary. Therefore, the fuel window will be the full 40 to 45 laps (as the first six laps will be run under the Yellow Flag). This is a plus for #1 MONTOYA, as his crew short-fueled his car on the Lap 26 Pit Stop to move the driver from fourth to first. But the usual result of that strategy is that the driver will have to Pit before his other lead lap competitors. Now, MONTOYA has a full tank of fuel.

At 9:56 a.m., CART's own Elizabeth Fornal sings the National Anthem.

At 9:59 a.m., the command "Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!" is given. Firestone engineers report a track temperature 85 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 69 degrees F. at the command.

At 10 a.m., the CART Pace Car begins to roll with the field of 23 cars in tow.

GREEN FLAG waves on Lap 40 to resume the Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota! Leader #1 MONTOYA stretches a small lead over #27 FRANCHITTI.

On Lap 44, #6 ANDRETTI takes over the top spot, followed by #12 VASSER and #1 MONTOYA.

On Lap 45, #27 FRANCHITTI pits and subsequently retires from the race due to a mechanical problem.

On Lap 46, #12 VASSER takes over the lead, followed by #6 ANDRETTI and #1 MONTOYA.

On Lap 48, #8 BRACK moves into second place.

On Lap 50, #8 BRACK pulls to the outside of #1 VASSER going into Turn 1 and takes the lead. #1 MONTOYA rides in third, #6 ANDRETTI in fourth, and #7 PAPIS in fifth.

On Lap 58, #3 CASTRONEVES moves into the lead from his 18th place restart position on Lap 34.

On Lap 60, #8 BRACK takes the lead back by .045 seconds over #3 CASTRONEVES, #1 MONTOYA, #12 VASSER, and #7 PAPIS.

On Lap 69, #6 ANDRETTI takes over the lead, followed by #8 BRACK and #3 CASTRONEVES.

On Lap 70, #3 CASTRONEVES retakes the lead by .116 over #6 ANDRETTI, followed by #8 BRACK (.513 second back), #7 PAPIS, and #1 MONTOYA.

On Lap 71, #12 VASSER pulls high in Turn 4 and shuts the engine off. VASSER pulls off track in Turn 1 and retires from the race due to a mechanical problem.

Also on Lap 71, #3 CASTRONEVES pits and falls from first to 18th before the driver can rejoin the race. #6 ANDRETTI takes over the lead.

On Lap 72, #8 BRACK retakes the lead followed by #6 ANDRETTI.

On Lap 75, #7 PAPIS takes the lead, followed by #6 ANDRETTI.

Also on Lap 75, first-place #8 BRACK and seventh-place #2 de FERRAN pit; BRACK returning in ninth, and de FERRAN returning in eighth.

On Lap 76, second-place #6 ANDRETTI pits and returns in third with leader #7 PAPIS pitting and returning in fourth place.

YELLOW FLAG waves on Lap 79 after #10 GIDLEY has a long plume of smoke erupt at the raer of his car at the Start/Finish line. GIDLEY pulls off course at Turn 1 and subsequently retires from the race due to a mechanical problem.

On Lap 80, the running order is #1 MONTOYA leading, followed by #6 ANDRETTI, #7 PAPIS, #3 CASTRONEVES, and #11 FITTIPALDI.

GREEN FLAG waves on Lap 86 with #1 MONTOYA leading.

On Lap 87, #7 PAPIS takes the lead, followed by #1 MONTOYA.

YELLOW FLAG waves on Lap 88 after #55 KANAAN loses an engine going into Turn 1. #6 ANDRETTI is enveloped in oil and smoke behind KANAAN and makes contact with #96 SERVIA. #6 ANDRETTI's car swaps ends and sails up the track, making hard contact with the outside wall, almost collecting #2 de FERRAN at the top of the track. SERVIA also makes hard contact with the outside wall and slides to a stop at the bottom of Turn 1. No drivers are injured in the incident but three cars are retired from the race, #55 KANAAN (mechanical), #6 ANDRETTI and #96 SERVIA (contact).

On Lap 89 and under the Yellow Flag, #7 PAPIS leads, followed by #3 CASTRONEVES.

On Lap 90, the running order is #7 PAPIS leading, followed by #3 CASTRONEVES, #1 MONTOYA, #11 FITTIPALDI, and #18 BLUNDELL.

On Lap 91, leader #7 PAPIS pits and returns to the race in seventh place. #1 MONTOYA also pits and falls from third to fourth. #17 GUGELMIN takes over the lead, followed by #20 MORENO.

On Lap 99, #17 GUGELMIN pits and hands the lead to #20 MORENO.

GREEN FLAG waves on Lap 100 with #20 MORENO leading, followed by #40 FERNANDEZ, and #11 FITTIPALDI. The top two cars are out of Pit Sequence.

On Lap 105, #3 CASTRONEVES takes the lead, followed by 320 MORENO, and #1 MONTOYA.

On Lap 109, the running order is #7 PAPIS, followed by #3 CASTRONEVES, and #8 BRACK.

On Lap 110, the running order is #7 PAPIS leading #3 CASTRONEVES, followed by #8 BRACK, #1 MONTOYA, and #18 BLUNDELL.

YELLOW FLAG waves on Lap 114 after #5 NAKANO slows in Turn 1 and coasts down the backstretch with smoke pouring from the rear of the car. NAKANO retires from the race.

On Lap 117, the leaders pit and race leader #7 PAPIS falls from first to second, #3 CASTRONEVES, falls from second to sixth, and #8 BRACK coming in at third and taking the lead with a quick stop.

GREEN FLAG waves on Lap 124 with #8 BRACK leading, followed by #7 PAPIS and #1 MONTOYA.

On Lap 125, #7 PAPIS takes over the lead, followed by #1 MONTOYA.

On Lap 127, #8 BRACK takes over the lead, followed by #3 CASTRONEVES.

On Lap 128, #3 CASTRONEVES takes over the lead, followed by #8 BRACK.

YELLOW FLAG waves on Lap 129 after #18 BLUNDELL loses an engine going into Turn 3. BLUNDELL pulls high and #8 BRACK retakes the lead. BLUDNELL subsequently retires from the race due to a mechanical problem.

GREEN FLAG waves on Lap 133 with #8 BRACK leading, followed by #1 MONTOYA.

On Lap 138, #11 FITTIPALDI takes over the lead, followed by #8 BRACK, and #3 CASTRONEVES.

On Lap 140, the running order is #40 FERNANDEZ leading, followed by #3 CASTRONEVES and #8 BRACK.

On Lap 142, #8 BRACK retakes the lead, followed by #11 FITTIPALDI, and #1 MONTOYA.

On Lap 145, #3 CASTRONEVES retakes the lead, followed by #8 BRACK and #1 MONTOYA.

On Lap 147, #8 BRACK retakes the lead, followed by #3 CASTRONEVES, and #11 FITTIPALDI.

On Lap 150, #3 CASTRONEVES retakes the lead, inches ahead of #8 BRACK, and #1 MONTOYA.

On Lap 151, #8 BRACK retakes the lead, followed by #3 CASTROENVES and #1 MONTOYA.

On Lap 155, #11 FITTIPALDI goes back to the front, followed by #3 CASTRONEVES and #8 BRACK.

On Lap 160, #3 CASTRONEVES goes back to the lead by .059 seconds over #7 PAPIS and #1 MONTOYA.

On Lap 161, leader #3 CASTRONEVES pits and falls from first to 11th, and fourth place #8 BRACK also pits, falling from fourth to 12th. #7 PAPIS takes over the lead, followed by #1 MONTOYA.

On Lap 163, #1 MONTOYA takes over the lead, followed by #7 PAPIS and #33 TAGLIANI.

Also on Lap 163, #2 de FERRAN pits and falls from sixth to 10th.

On Lap 164, #7 PAPIS takes over the lead, followed by #1 MONTOYA and #19 BARRON. #11 FITTIPALDI pits and falls from fifth to eighth.

On Lap 165, #1 MONTOYA retakes the lead, followed by #7 PAPIS and #19 BARRON.

On Lap 167, #8 BRACK again pits, this time with a turbo charger problem. The driver returns to the race for one lap before retiring from the race with a mechanical problem.

On Lap 168, #7 PAPIS again takes the lead when #1 MONTOYA pits, followed by #19 BARRON and #20 MORENO. #1 MONTOYA falls from first to seventh.

On Lap 170, the running order is #7 PAPIS leading by 1.083 seconds, followed by #19 BARRON, and #20 MORENO.

On Lap 171, #91 MEARS pits and falls from fourth to 11th.

On Lap 172, #19 BARRON takes the lead, followed by #20 MORENO and #7 PAPIS.

On Lap 173, #19 BARRON pits and hands the lead to #20 MORENO. BARRON falls from first to ninth.

On Lap 174, #20 MORENO pits and falls from first to tenth. #7 PAPIS takes over the lead.

On Lap 175, #7 PAPIS leads, followed by #3 CASTRONEVES, and #1 MONTOYA.

On Lap 177, #3 CASTRONEVES retakes the lead, followed by #7 PAPIS and #1 MONTOYA.

On Lap 180, the running order is #2 de FERRAN leading by .240 seconds over #3 CASTRONEVES (.892 seconds further back), and #7 PAPIS.

YELLOW FLAG waves on Lap 182 after third-place #7 PAPIS pulls low in Turn 1 with an engine problem. The car gets in its own oil and spins a complete loop before PAPIS regains control and coasts down the backstretch without power. PAPIS subsequently retires from the race with a mechanical problem.

On Lap 185, leader #2 de FERRAN pits and falls from first to ninth. #3 CASTRONEVES pits, falling from second to fifth and #1 MONTOYA pits, falling third to fourth.

On Lap 186, #91 MEARS takes over the lead as the leaders pit, followed by #19 BARRON, and #20 MORENO.

On Lap 190, the running order is #91 MEARS leading, followed by #19 BARRON, #20 MORENO, #1 MONTOYA, and #3 CASTRONEVES.

On Lap 194, fourth-place #1 MONTOYA pits and falls to sixth. #11 FITTIPALDI also pits but maintains seventh postion.

GREEN FLAG waves on Lap 195 with #91 MEARS leading.

BLACK FLAG is shown on Lap 196 to #33 TAGLIANI for a Pit Violation. TAGLIANI subsequently pits to comply with the Black Flag stop-and-go penalty.

On Lap 196, #19 BARRON retakes the lead, followed by #1 MONTOYA and #91 MEARS.

On Lap 197, #1 MONTOYA retakes the lead, followed by #3 CASTRONEVES and #19 BARRON.

On Lap 199, #3 CASTRONEVES moves back to the front, followed by #1 MONTOYA and #16 JOURDIAN Jr.

On Lap 200, the running order is #3 CASTRONEVES leading by .108 seconds over #1 MONTOYA (.662 seconds back), #16 JOURDAIN Jr., #19 BARRON, and #91 MEARS.

On Lap 201, the top four cars cross the Start / Finish stripe in a furious dogfight, with #1 MONTOYA leading by inches over #16 JOURDAIN Jr., #3 CASTRONEVES, and #19 BARRON.

On Lap 202, #16 JOURDAIN Jr. gets shuffled back as the cars approach Turn 1 and falls all the way to seventh before slowing dramatically at Turn 3 and pulling onto the track apron with no power. JOURDAIN Jr. subsequently retires from the race due to a mechanical problem.

On Lap 202, #19 BARRON takes the lead, followed by #1 MONTOYA, #3 CASTRONEVES, #20 MORENO, and #91 MEARS.

On Lap 210, the running order is #3 CASTRONEVES leading by .002 seconds over #1 MONTOYA, followed by #19 BARRON (.442 seconds back), #11 FITTIPALDI, and #91 MEARS.

On Lap 213, #19 BARRON drops to the bottom of the entrance to Turn 1 and passes both #3 CASTRONEVES and #1 MONTOYA through the corner but loses the lead back to CASTRONEVES on the backstraight.

YELLOW FLAG waves on Lap 218 after #1 MONTOYA pulls high on course in Turn 2 with an engine problem. MONTOYA subsequently pits with no power and retires from the race due to a mechanical problem.

On Lap 220 and under the Yellow Flag, the running order is #3 CASTRONEVES leading, followed by #11 FITTIPALDI, #19 BARRON, #20 MORENO, and #2 de FERRAN.

On Lap 222, the six lead lap cars pit. #3 CASTRONEVES pits leading and comes out second; #11 FITTIPALDI comes in second and wins the race off Pit Road, moving to first. #19 BARRON comes in third and leaves fifth; #2 de FERRAN comes in fourth and exits fourth; and #20 MORENO comes in fifth and exits in third.

On Lap 223, #40 FERNANDEZ pits under the minus sign (signifying only lapped cars can pit) while riding on the lead lap, and per CART rules, is determined to have to line up at the rear of the restart line by CART Race Control.

On Lap 224, the anticipated Green Flag is aborted when leader #11 FITTIPALDI jumps the flag, crossing the Start / Finish line by over 100 yards over second place #3 CASTRONEVES.

GREEN FLAG waves on Lap 225 with #11 FITTIPALDI leading, followed by #3 CASTRONEVES, #20 MORENO, #19 BARRON, and #2 de FERRAN.

YELLOW FLAG waves on Lap 227 after a large puff of smoke erupts from the left rear of the engine of #3 CASTRONEVES as the driver rides the high line in Turn 1. The car spins backwards into the outside wall, making hard contact with the rear of the car against the wall before sliding back down the banking and coming to a rest. CART safety workers immediately begin working with the driver who sustains injury in the incident. (See further notes and Medical Update in following Pit Notes).

GREEN FLAG waves on Lap 237 to resume the race with #11 FITTIPALDI leading by .898 seconds over #20 MORENO, followed by #19 BARRON, #2 de FERRAN, and #91 MEARS.

YELLOW FLAG waves on Lap 240 after #19 BARRON loses an engine just past the Start / Finish line and pulls low to the apron without power. BARRON subsequently exits the race due to a mechanical problem.

GREEN FLAG waves on Lap 244 to resume the race with #11 FITTIPALDI leading #20 MORENO.

On Lap 245, #11 FITTIPALDI leads by .496 seconds over #20 MORENO, followed by #33 TAGLIANI (2.826 seconds back), #2 de FERRAN, and #40 FERNANDEZ.

YELLOW FLAG and WHITE FLAGS are waved on Lap 249 after #33 TAGLIANI spins in Turn 1 and makes hard contact with the rear of the car against the outside wall. The car spins to a rest in Turn 2. CART safety workers quickly tend to the driver who is reporting injuries.

CHECKERED FLAG waves on Lap 250 for the winner of The Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota, CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI! FITTIPALDI comes home .194 seconds ahead of #20 ROBERTO MORENO. Third place goes to GIL de FERRAN, fourth to CASEY MEARS, and fifth to ADRIAN FERNANDEZ.

FITTIPALDI averaged 139.563 mph in his victory, taking three hours, thirty-eight minutes and 4.376 seconds to pull down the $1,000,000 first-place purse. There were 59 lead changes in today's race, second only to the 1998 Michigan 500 as an all-time record which logged 62 changes. Twelve different drivers took a turn at the front of the pack. KENNY BRACK led the most laps with 47, followed by CASTRONEVES with 42, FITTIPALDI with 35, MONTOYA with 33, PAPIS with 26, de FERRAN with 23, MEARS with 10, GUGELMIN with eight, MORENO with eight, BARRON with seven, ANDRETTI with seven, and VASSER with four. Only six cars made it to the end of the race with five of those on the lead lap. The Yellow Flag flew 11 times for a total of 76 laps.

MEDICAL UPDATES: HELIO CASTRONEVES was transported to Loma Linda Hospital for precautionary x-rays and possibly a CT scan of his spinal area, according to CART Medical Affairs Dr. Steve Olvey. Olvey said that CASTRONEVES reported neck pain as well as pain in his left ankle. Olvey said that CASTRONEVES was awake and alert.

ALEX TAGLIANI was transported to Lona Linda Hospital for x-rays after reporting mid-back, chest, and abdominal pain, according to CART Director of Medical Affairs Dr. Steve Olvey. Olvey said that an initial exam at the CART Mobile Medical Facility showed the possibility of a mid-vertebrae fracture and TAGLIANI was transported for further x-rays. Olvey said that TAGLIANI was awake and alert.

Additional update on the Pace Car incident from Sunday: Dr. Steve Olvey reports that Andrew Bordin, a driver in the CART Toyota Atlantic Series, who was driving the Pace Car when the car contacted the outside wall in Turn 2, is scheduled to undergo surgery today at Loma Linda hospital to stabilize a fracture of his C4 vertebrae. Passenger Yoshimichi Inada, Senior Managing Director at Pioneer Electronics, who was participating as a guest ride with Bordin, was further evaluated Sunday evening and determined to have a basilar skull fracture. Inada was awake and alert and remains at Loma Linda.

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI logs his first win of the 2000 season today and the second of his CART career today, his other win coming at Road America in 1999. FITTIPALDI wins one million dollars as he also becomes the first Newman/Haas driver to win a 500-miler since NIGEL MANSELL came home first at Michigan in 1993. FITTIPALDI becomes the 11th different winner in the 2000 season, establishing a CART record. The previous mark was 10, set in 1999.

ROBERTO MORENO finishes second in his debut at California Speedway, establishing a career-best finish in a 500-mile event. MORENO had previously finished third in the 1996 US 500. MORENO also finishes third in the chase for the CART Championship, his previous best at 14th last year.

GIL de FERRAN finishes third today, clinching his first FedEx Series Championship, one million dollars and the Vanderbilt Cup. De FERRAN's previous best finish in the Points chase was a second with Walker Racing in 1997. De FERRAN is the second Brazilian driver in CART's 22-year history to win the Championship. The other Brazilian was Emerson Fittipaldi in 1989. This is also team-owner Roger Penske's eighth FedEx Championship Series Championship and tenth overall in Champ Car history. Penske's last FedEx Championship Series title was with Al Unser Jr. in 1994.

CART Rookie CASEY MEARS finishes fourth in today's race, becoming the third rookie this season to lead a lap in his series debut. The others are BRACK and TAGLIANI, who both led at Homestead in the first race of the 2000 season. Casey is also the first of the MEARS clan to appear in a CART race since his uncle Rick Mears ran the 1992 Michigan race.

MEDICAL UPDATE: Player's Forsythe Racing rookie Alex Tagliani had additional x-rays at Loma Linda Hospital and they revealed no fracture to the vertebrae, according to team officials. Team officials said that Tagliani still had to undergo a CT Scan at Loma Linda and no results were available at this time.

Quotes from today's top news-makers follow:

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI: "Above all, I am very happy for the day today. The team worked very well. These 500-mile races are all about finishing. A lot of people are learning to run these 500-mile races, and it's starting to get tough. I knew it was going to come down to the last ten to 15 laps. Right at the very end when we went green, Bob (Roberto Moreno) was right behind me. I was going as fast as I could, and I couldn't have gone another tenth of a mile an hour quicker. The car was very good. We played with it a little bit, but I just wanted to make sure that, at the end, we had a very neutral car. Since the car got here on Thursday and we started running Friday, we made very few changes. Everything was perfect for 500 miles, believe it or not. It's obviously very good. It's great to start on a high note for next year. This season was very difficult for me all year. We were always qualifying in the top eight apart from a few races, but for whatever reasons I wasn't able to get it to happen in the races. Gil (de Ferran) proved today that it's really important to score points every race. The championship is ten times harder to win than a race. He played it very well. As everyone knows, it's been two weeks that I've been a very happy person, I'm getting married. That's the most important thing in my life. It's far more important than a race win or a championship. You need to put things in perspective. But I still love to race, and I'm going to do my best next season to kick Gil's butt and Bob's butt and Casey's butt, and maybe you'll all be talking to me about a championship instead of a race win."

ROBERTO MORENO: "This season has just been fantastic. I can't say enough about the team and the job they did to achieve this. I had a couple of handicaps to overcome during this season. There were some places that I'd never seen like Houston and this place, and I hadn't been to Australia since 1996. A lot of times the car wasn't good in qualifying, but we never gave up and the team did a great job. I was setting myself up to pass Christian, but the yellow came out. I didn't have a car that was faster than his, but if I got into his slipstream I was ready for it, believe me. I must say, I was very lucky to stay out of trouble."

CASEY MEARS: "First of all, I've really got to thank the people that got me here. Bobby Rahal really put his faith in me, and WorldCom stepped up to the plate to get me here, along with Ford. It was just an awesome day. I can't believe I'm sitting up here. At about the halfway point, I got comfortable and was really relaxed in the car. We were out there passing guys, except when we were saving fuel. I got a lot of good advice from my uncle Rick, and he got me up here where he used to finish. Just to be in this field, and to be up here with these guys is unbelievable. I just tried to save the car and get a good finish. It was a great day. The variety of different nationalities brings a lot of different people here. I saw a whole bunch of people here this weekend from Mexico that were here supporting Adrian Fernandez. I also got a lot of support from a lot of people this weekend. I think bringing us American drivers back will really bring interest back into the sport. It will give a lot of people someone to root for here at home. I stepped right our of the Lights championship into this. A lot of the same things I learned running the Lights car apply to Champ Cars as well, they've just got more power. I got to step-in on a road course and do some testing for a couple teams, too, and I was right on the pace. I think Lights does a great job preparing drivers for Champ Cars."

GIL de FERRAN: "It's so tough to put this into words. I had a fantastic car all day. I felt that if I got up front, I could run ahead no problem. But I got back into the field running 222, 224 (miles per hour), and I had to be pretty conservative. For me to get ahead, I would have had to take quite a few chances, so I tried to stay out of trouble. There were a couple of incidents in front of me. One that comes to mind is the one that took (Oriol) Servia and Michael (Andretti) out. There was so much smoke, I couldn't tell where the cars were. I think the Lord was definitely on my side, because at one point I was looking right at Michael's face. We were nose-to-nose. I flat-spotted the tires on that, but I came in, the guys checked the car, I went back out and it was okay. Obviously, it's a very, very emotional day for me today. I was trying to keep myself calm, but when I crossed the line, I didn't think I was going to make it back. I've dreamed all my life about winning a title like this. I've been racing since 1982, and there are a lot of people that cross your life and help you, and you try to find a way to pay them back. When I crossed the line, all the emotions just flowed out. A lot of important people in my life are here. My mom and dad, are here. My wife is here. A lot of my other friends are here. Jim Hall, who gave me my start over here (in Champ Cars) is here. I'm very, very thankful to him for giving me a shot. Derrick Walker was also here, and I'm very, very grateful to him as well. The only one who's not here is Mr. (Jackie) Stewart. He and his son Paul did so much for my career, and I just wanted to thank him publicly. Last, but certainly not least, I want to thank Mr. Penske, who was on the radio with me all day. When you meet Roger and you start to get closer to him, you start to understand why this team has been so successful. Roger is a very, very special person. I can't believe I'm sitting here as the 2000 champion. Roger will always have a special place in my heart. I'm also happy to win this championship with Honda. I've been with them since 1996, and it's wonderful to have been involved with them, and also Reynard. I've been driving Reynards since 1989, and I'm very, very happy to win the championship in a Reynard. I've always dreamed of this. I always felt it was within my abilities to win one of these championships. To be here talking to you as the champion is very, very satisfying. I'm going to try to enjoy this taste in my mouth for as long as I can. It hasn't sunk in completely yet. When I stepped inside this uniform for the first time, I was very aware of the people that wore it before. Some very special people wore this: Emerson (Fittipaldi), Rick (Mears), Ayrton Senna, Niki Lauda, they were a lot of great champions. It's a definite sense of mission accomplished."

ROGER PENSKE: "I think the main thing in this championship is when you think about how things turned around from last year with Greg (Moore)'s death and the other tragedies. This wasn't just a Gil win, or my win, this was a team win. It was a great day. I'm thrilled to win it here in California. We got our 100th win in Nazareth, near where the race team is located. Here in California is a place that is very special to me. I said to Greg (Penske) and Bill Miller (President of California Speedway) that this race was so much better than the NASCAR race. I think it's important that CART and the Champ Car series gets the credit it deserves. If you give this team the right tools, they can be right there. I think we're going to be up there again next year, and I couldn't say that until right now. A lot of times, we were hitting off the tee with a sand iron over the last couple of years. The biggest move for me was to look outside the team. Neither Greg Moore or Gil said, 'I'll come to Team Penske if I have this tire or this engine.' They wanted to come to Team Penske. With Gonzalo (Rodriguez), we were trying to give a young guy a break. We knew he didn't have a ride, and we wanted to give him an opportunity. Of course, as close as I got to Greg Moore, and to see that accident that happened here last year was really tough. Today's championship is really, really great, but it doesn't replace these two very special people."

GIL DE FERRAN: "Last, but certainly not least, I want to thank Mr. Penske, who was on the radio with me all day. When you meet Roger and you start to get closer to him, you start to understand why this team has been so successful. Roger is a very, very special person. I can't believe I'm sitting here as the 2000 champion. Roger will always have a special place in my heart. I'm also happy to win this championship with Honda. I've been with them since 1996, and it's wonderful to have been involved with them, and also Reynard. I've been driving Reynards since 1989, and I'm very, very happy to win the championship in a Reynard. I've always dreamed of this. I always felt it was within my abilities to win one of these championships. To be here talking to you as the champion is very, very satisfying. I'm going to try to enjoy this taste in my mouth for as long as I can. It hasn't sunk in completely yet. When I stepped inside this uniform for the first time, I was very aware of the people that wore it before. Some very special people wore this: Emerson (Fittipaldi), Rick (Mears), Ayrton Senna, Niki Lauda, they were a lot of great champions. It's a definite sense of mission accomplished."

ROGER PENSKE: "I think the main thing in this championship is when you think about how things turned around from last year with Greg (Moore)'s death and the other tragedies. This wasn't just a Gil win, or my win, this was a team win. It was a great day. I'm thrilled to win it here in California. We got our 100th win in Nazareth, near where the race team is located. Here in California is a place that is very special to me. I said to Greg (Penske) and Bill Miller (President of California Speedway) that this race was so much better than the NASCAR race. I think it's important that CART and the Champ Car series gets the credit it deserves. If you give this team the right tools, they can be right there. I think we're going to be up there again next year, and I couldn't say that until right now. A lot of times, we were hitting off the tee with a sand iron over the last couple of years. The biggest move for me was to look outside the team. Neither Greg Moore or Gil said, 'I'll come to Team Penske if I have this tire or this engine.' They wanted to come to Team Penske. With Gonzalo (Rodriguez), we were trying to give a young guy a break. We knew he didn't have a ride, and we wanted to give him an opportunity. Of course, as close as I got to Greg Moore, and to see that accident that happened here last year was really tough. Today's championship is really, really great, but it doesn't replace these two very special people."

This concludes the track notes for today and the 2000 season. The FedEx Championship Series wants to thank all of the Champ Car fans and Media representatives for their appreciation of the fastest, most competitive racing series in the world! We'll see you next March in Mexico for the start of the 2001 season. Until then, take care and have the best of off-seasons! Good Night!

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Adrian Fernandez , Roberto Moreno , Bobby Rahal , Alex Tagliani , Rick Mears , Niki Lauda , Ayrton Senna , Andrew Bordin , Roger Penske , Greg Moore
Teams Team Penske