CHAMPCAR/CART: Ford Racing Fontana preview

Marlboro 500 - California Speedway - Fontana, California When: November 4, 2001 Television Coverage (Et): Espn; 3:30pm (Live) Track Layout: 2.029-Mile Super Speedway Race Distance: 500 Miles (250 Laps) Defending Champion: Christian ...

Marlboro 500 - California Speedway - Fontana, California
When: November 4, 2001
Television Coverage (Et): Espn; 3:30pm (Live)

Track Layout: 2.029-Mile Super Speedway
Race Distance: 500 Miles (250 Laps)
Defending Champion: Christian Fittipaldi
Defending Polesitter: Gil De Ferran (241.428 Miles Per Hour; 30.255 Seconds)
Qualifying Record: Gil De Ferran (241.428 Miles Per Hour; 30.255 Seconds)

2001 Driver Points (19 Races): Gil De Ferran (191)*, Kenny Brack (163), Helio Castroneves (141), Michael Andretti (141), Cristiano Da Matta (120)

2001 Manufacturer Points (19 Races): Honda (332)*, Toyota (288), Ford-Cosworth (280)
*Clinched Championship

FORD-COSWORTH PREPARED FOR SEASON FINALE - Ford and Cosworth look to wrap up the 2001 season this weekend with the Marlboro 500 at the California Speedway. Last weekend in Surfer's Paradise, Australia, Player's/Forsythe driver Alex Tagliani gave Ford-Cosworth a podium appearance on the tight temporary street circuit with his third-place result in the Honda Indy 300. This week the challenge turns to the banks of the two-mile California Speedway in Fontana, California, where horsepower is the key to success. Ford-Cosworth's engines have had plenty of horsepower at Fontana with Scott Pruett capturing the pole position in 1998 and Adrian Fernandez (1999) and Christian Fittipaldi (2000) taking the checkered flag in each of the last two CART events at the super speedway.

FORD-COSWORTH XF ENGINE SUCCESSFUL FOR 500 MILES - Although this weekend's race marks the end of just its second season of competition, the Ford-Cosworth XF engine has clearly established itself as the dominant powerplant in 500-mile races. In last season's Marlboro 500 at the California Speedway, Ford-powered teams swept seven of the top eight positions, including winner Christian Fittipaldi and runner-up Roberto Moreno. The Ford-Cosworth XF has also been strong in its two races at the Michigan International Speedway. The engine for three of the top six finishers in 2000, the XF powered four of the top six finishers this season, including winner Patrick Carpentier, who earned his first career CART victory, and third-place finisher Michel Jourdain, Jr., who earned his first career CART podium appearance.

BRACK'S CHAMPIONSHIP CHASE ENDS; HONDA CLINCHES THE MANUFACTURERS' CHAMPIONSHIP - Team Rahal driver Kenny Brack's quest for the CART championship ended in Surfer's Paradise, Australia, when Gil de Ferran finished fourth, earning him enough points for his second CART championship in as many seasons. Brack, who finished fifth and came into the race trailing de Ferran by 26 points, needed to finish ahead of the defending series champion to have any hope of catching him this weekend in Fontana. Nonetheless, the Swede remains second in the championship standings with 163 points, 22 points ahead of third place Helio Castroneves (141) and fourth place Michael Andretti (141). With Honda clinching the manufacturers' championship, Toyota's victory in Australia gives them sole position of second place in the manufacturers' standings going into to the California Speedway. Toyota (288) holds an eight-point lead over Ford-Cosworth (280) and must finish second in this weekend's race to lock up second place regardless of what Ford-Cosworth does.

FORD-COSWORTH FAVORITES AT FONTANA - Although there are several drivers capable of winning a race in the FedEx Championship Series, Ford-Cosworth drivers Kenny Brack, Patrick Carpentier, Michel Jourdain, Jr., 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 - Brack has scored top-10 finishes in six of the last seven races, including a win and a second place result on the ovals in Germany and England, respectively, eighth in Vancouver, seventh in Houston and fifth last week in Australia. Brack has been dominant on the oval tracks this season with six front row starts, including four pole positions, and six podium appearances, highlighted by victories in Japan, Milwaukee, Chicago and England. Brack has scored 116 of his 163 championship points (79 percent) on the ovals and has won (four) more than half (seven) of the oval races run this season. Last season as a rookie at the California Speedway, Brack qualified eighth and led a race-high 47 laps before a turbo failure on lap 167 ended his day. Patrick Carpentier - Carpentier has qualified inside the top 10 four times on oval tracks this season, including second at Texas (race was cancelled) and seventh in England. Carpentier scored his first career CART victory in the most recent 500-mile race earlier this season at the Michigan International Speedway. He then went on to score podium finishes in the next two oval races at Chicago (second) and in Germany (third), and has scored 50 of his 88 championship points (57 percent) on ovals this season. Michel Jourdain, Jr. - With a career-high 30 championship points thus far this season, Jourdain is coming off a strong performance in Australia where he made his 100th career Champ Car start and finished seventh. Jourdain made his first career podium appearance earlier this season at the Michigan 500 where he finished third and qualified seventh in Japan, finishing 11th. The youngest driver to ever start a CART race (19 years, six months, 12 days), Jourdain has run well at the California Speedway in the past, qualifying a career-best fifth in 1997 and finishing 12th in 1998. Max Papis - Papis has closed the season on a tear by scoring championship points in each of the last five events, highlighted by his third career victory at Laguna Seca on Oct. 14th. The likeable Italian has failed to finish in the points just once in three starts at Fontana, with his best performance coming in 1999 when he qualified second and finished second. Papis has scored points in four of his seven starts on oval tracks this season, including a second place finish in Germany and sixth place result in Japan. Last season at the California Speedway, Papis qualified 13th and led 26 laps before retiring with a failed engine on lap 182. Alex Tagliani - Tagliani comes to Fontana following his second podium appearance of the season - a third place finish in Honda Indy 300 at Surfer's Paradise, Australia. The French-Canadian driver has scored championship points in three of his seven oval track starts this season, including a pair of sixth place results at Michigan and Chicago. Tagliani ran well as a rookie last season at the California Speedway where he was in contention for the victory until a failed engine sent him spinning into the wall with two laps remaining.

COSWORTH CHAMP CAR WINS - Max Papis' third career Champ Car victory (and his second this season) at Laguna Seca on October 14th was the 212th victory for Cosworth Racing in USAC- and CART-sanctioned races since entering North American open-wheeled racing in 1976. Cosworth has won 166 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 - Herdez Bettenhausen driver Michel Jourdain has scored a career-high 30 championship points this season ... Arciero-Blair driver Alex Barron, who replaced Max Wilson prior to the race in Australia, led seven laps during last year's Marlboro 500 and was in contention for the victory until his engine failed with 11 laps to go (finished eighth) ... seven of the 12 drivers who led laps during last year's Marlboro 500 were powered by the Ford-Cosworth XF engine, leading 140 of the 250 laps (56 percent).

-Ford Racing-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Max Papis , Bobby Rahal , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Christian Fittipaldi , Max Wilson , Kenny Brack , Scott Pruett , Alex Barron , Mario Andretti , Rick Mears , Michel Jourdain