CHAMPCAR/CART: Ford Racing Chicago preview

RED-HOT PLAYER'S TEAM HEADS TO CHICAGO FOR TARGET GRAND PRIX - Player's/Indeck and drivers Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani head to the Chicago Motor Speedway as two of the hottest drivers in the CART FedEx Championship Series. Carpentier, now...

RED-HOT PLAYER'S TEAM HEADS TO CHICAGO FOR TARGET GRAND PRIX - Player's/Indeck and drivers Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani head to the Chicago Motor Speedway as two of the hottest drivers in the CART FedEx Championship Series. Carpentier, now in his fifth CART season, scored his first career Champ Car victory last weekend in the Harrah's 500 at the Michigan International Speedway (MIS), and now has three points-paying finishes in his last five events, including eighth in Detroit and fifth in Portland. Meanwhile, Tagliani has scored championship points in each of the last five races, including 12th in Portland, ninth in Cleveland, his first career podium appearance in Toronto (second), and sixth in Michigan. After failing to score points in any of the first five races of the season, Carpentier, Tagliani and Player's/Indeck have captured championship points in five consecutive races and scored two podium finishes.

KENNY BRACK STRONG ON ONE-MILE OVALS - Team Rahal driver Kenny Brack has enjoyed some success on the two one-mile oval tracks at Nazareth and Milwaukee this season. Brack started second and finished second at Nazareth on May 6th before winning from the pole at Milwaukee on June 3rd.

ARCIERO-BLAIR RACING TO MISS TARGET GRAND PRIX - Arciero-Blair Racing and driver Max Wilson will not compete in this weekend's Target Grand Prix because both its primary and backup cars are under repair and will not be ready in time for the race. Wilson made heavy contact with Shinji Nakano during qualifying at Toronto two weeks ago, and then crashed during practice on Saturday morning at Michigan International Speedway, heavily damaging his second car. Arciero-Blair and Wilson plan to be back in action at the Miller Lite 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 12th.

BRACK MAINTAINS LEAD IN DRIVERS' CHAMPIONSHIP; FORD-COSWORTH GAINS GROUND IN THE MANUFACTURERS' CHAMPIONSHIP - Despite finishing out of the points for the second straight race, current championship points leader Kenny Brack heads to Chicago still atop the championship standings. Brack (84 points) now leads Dario Franchitti (81 points) by three points, Helio Castroneves (75 points) by nine points and Michael Andretti (73 points) by 11 points with 10 races remaining in the CART FedEx Championship season. With Patrick Carpentier's victory at Michigan last weekend, Ford-Cosworth (151 points) now trails Honda (174 points) by 23 points and Toyota (154 points) by just three points in the chase for the manufacturers' championship.

FORD FAVORITES AT CHICAGO - Although there are several drivers capable of winning a race in the FedEx Championship Series, Ford-Cosworth drivers Kenny Brack, Patrick Carpentier, Bryan Herta, Max Papis and Alex Tagliani each stand a strong chance of sipping champagne this weekend. Here's a quick look at each of these drivers and why they should be considered favorites:

Kenny Brack - Despite failing to finish each of the last two events, championship points leader Kenny Brack is still a threat to win every time he rolls onto the track. Brack has scored championship points in six of the last eight races and has failed to score points in only three events thus far this season. The native of Sweden has also qualified sixth or better and scored two wins (Motegi and Milwaukee) and a second place finish (Nazareth) in the four oval races contested this season.

Patrick Carpentier - Patrick Carpentier comes to Chicago after capturing his first career Champ Car victory last weekend at the Michigan International Speedway. Although he led just three laps of the 500-mile race, Carpentier outdueled Dario Franchitti and Michel Jourdain, Jr., with some help from teammate Alex Tagliani to score his first CART win. Carpentier has also qualified 12th or better in five of the last seven races, including sixth in Detroit, ninth in Cleveland, and 10th in both Motegi and Portland.

Bryan Herta - One of four American drivers currently competing in CART, Bryan Herta has scored two top five results in the last three races, including a third-place finish in Cleveland on July 1st and a fifth-place finish last weekend at Michigan International Speedway. Herta also performed well in his only appearance at the Chicago Motor Speedway in 1999 where he qualified seventh and finished eighth.

Max Papis - The first CART polesitter at the Chicago Motor Speedway (1999), Max Papis has been a strong performer in two appearances on the one-mile oval. Papis finished fourth after starting from the pole in 1999 and started sixth last season before an engine failure on the first lap of the race ended his day prematurely. The likeable Italian has scored championship points in five of the last seven races, including sixth- and eighth-place finishes at Japan and Milwaukee and his second career CART victory at Portland.

Alex Tagliani - After a slow start, Tagliani has now scored championship points in four consecutive races, including 12th in Portland, ninth in Cleveland a career-best second in Toronto and sixth at Michigan last weekend. Tagliani has also qualified in the top 10 in two of the last three events (seventh in Cleveland; fifth in Toronto), and finished ninth at Chicago Motor Speedway as a rookie last season after qualifying eighth.

COSWORTH CHAMP CAR WINS - Patrick Carpentier's first career Champ Car victory at Michigan International Speedway last weekend was the 209th victory for Cosworth Racing in USAC- and CART-sanctioned races since entering North American open-wheeled racing in 1976. Cosworth has won 162 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) (was sanctioned by USAC). 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 - Team Rahal driver Max Papis was the polesitter for the inaugural Target Grand Prix at the Chicago Motor Speedway in 1999 ... Kenny Brack has led the most laps of any driver this season (414) ... Bryan Herta is Ford-Cosworth's most experienced CART driver this season with 110 career Champ Car starts.

-Ford Racing

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Max Papis , Bobby Rahal , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Dario Franchitti , Max Wilson , Bryan Herta , Shinji Nakano , Kenny Brack , Mario Andretti , Rick Mears , Michel Jourdain