CHAMPCAR/CART: Ford Racing Motegi preview

<pre> Firestone Firehawk 500 - Twin Ring Motegi - Motegi, Japan WHEN: May 19, 2001 TRACK LAYOUT: 1.549-mile oval RACE DISTANCE: 201 laps; 500 kilometers (311.349 miles) TELEVISION COVERAGE (ET): ABC; 1:00 - 3:00 PM (tape delayed) DEFENDING...

<pre> Firestone Firehawk 500 - Twin Ring Motegi - Motegi, Japan WHEN: May 19, 2001 TRACK LAYOUT: 1.549-mile oval RACE DISTANCE: 201 laps; 500 kilometers (311.349 miles) TELEVISION COVERAGE (ET): ABC; 1:00 - 3:00 PM (tape delayed) DEFENDING CHAMPION: Michael Andretti DEFENDING POLESITTER: Juan Montoya (212.540 mph; 26.237 seconds) 2001 DRIVER POINTS (3 races): Cristiano da Matta (40), Paul Tracy (40), Gil de Ferran (30), Jimmy Vasser (30), Helio Castroneves (29), KENNY BRACK (29) 2001 MANUFACTURER POINTS (3 races): Toyota (58), Honda (52), FORD-COSWORTH (32) </pre> MOTEGI SUCCESS - Ford-Cosworth heads to Japan having never lost a CART race at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit in three attempts. Adrian Fernandez claimed victory in the first two FedEx Championship races held at Motegi in 1998 and 1999, while Michael Andretti won last season's event. Despite the manufacturer's success in the race at Motegi, Ford-Cosworth has never had one of its cars start from the pole.

QUALIFYING STRONG - Ford-Cosworth has qualified well in each of the first four CART events this season with Kenny Brack earning pole positions at Monterrey, Mexico, and Texas, with outside pole positions at Long Beach and Nazareth. Ford-Cosworth swept the top four qualifying positions at Texas (Brack, Patrick Carpentier, Oriol Servia and Bryan Herta), and had three of the four fastest cars on the starting grid at Nazareth in Brack (2nd), Michel Jourdain, Jr. (3rd) and Oriol Servia (4th).

JOURDAIN AND SERVIA SHOWING IMPRESSIVE SPEED - Both Michel Jourdain, Jr., and Oriol Servia have demonstrated impressive speed through the first four CART events. Although his highest finish this season is 13th at both Long Beach and Nazareth, Jourdain has had top-10 qualifying efforts in each of the last two events, including 7th at Long Beach and a career-best 3rd at Nazareth. Despite being with a rookie team in just his second CART season, Servia has three top-eight qualifying efforts in four events, including 8th in the season-opener at Monterrey, a career-best 3rd at Texas and 4th at Nazareth, where he also recorded his first top-10 result of the season (9th). Sigma Autosport has also been one of the most reliable teams on the grid with Servia being one of only six drivers who have completed all 385 competitive laps thus far this season.

FORD FAVORITES AT MOTEGI - Although there are several drivers capable of winning a race in the FedEx Championship Series, Ford-Cosworth drivers Kenny Brack and Bryan Herta 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 - Has scored two pole positions (Mexico and Texas) and two outside pole positions (2nd at Long Beach and Nazareth) in each of the first four CART events this season. Brack qualified on the front row for the first time in his CART career last season at Motegi (2nd) en route to a fifth-place result. Through four events, Brack leads all CART drivers in pole positions (2) and laps led (153).

Bryan Herta - Scored a season-best result of 10th at Long Beach and was the fourth-fastest qualifier at Texas before retiring with clutch problems at Nazareth. Herta has never qualified outside the top 10 in two previous appearances at Motegi, starting 9th in 1998 and 8th in 1999.

OVAL SUCCESS - Ford-Cosworth has been very successful in the last 11 CART races held on oval tracks. Ford-Cosworth had at least one driver appear on the podium in each of the last 11 oval races dating back to Fontana in 1999, scoring five victories (twice at Fontana, Motegi, Rio and Homestead), eight runner-up finishes (Nazareth, twice at Fontana, Gateway, Chicago, Michigan, Milwaukee and Homestead) and five third-place results (Gateway, Milwaukee, Nazareth, Motegi and '99 at Fontana).

I DEMAND A RECOUNT! - Following a recount of its wins, it has been determined that Cosworth Racing has scored 205 victories in USAC- and CART-sanctioned races since entering North American open-wheeled racing in 1976. Cosworth has won 159 CART-sanctioned races and 46 USAC-sanctioned races, including five victories in 1996 with the Ford-Cosworth XB engine in 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 - Kenny Brack's second place result at Nazareth was the best of his career in a CART-sanctioned oval race (3rd at Nazareth in '00) ... Bryan Herta is Ford-Cosworth's most experienced CART driver this season with 103 career Champ Car starts ... Max Papis' best qualifying effort at Motegi was 3rd in 1999 (finished 16th) ... Bryan Herta's last oval track podium appearance (2nd) came in 1996 at Michigan ... Oriol Servia's best career finish on an oval was 5th at Gateway last season ... Max Papis' scored his only career CART pole position on the one-mile oval at Chicago in 1999.

-Ford Racing-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Max Papis , Adrian Fernandez , Bobby Rahal , Patrick Carpentier , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Bryan Herta , Kenny Brack , Mario Andretti , Rick Mears , Cristiano da Matta , Johnny Rutherford , Michel Jourdain