CHAMPCAR/CART: Garcia has caree best champ car run at Michigan

BROOKLYN, Mich.- It was his first attempt at 500 miles on a super speedway, but Luiz Garcia Jr. made it count as he scored his best-ever finish in a FedEx Champ Car race. The Brazilian finished 11th after starting 23rd, breaking his previous...

BROOKLYN, Mich.- It was his first attempt at 500 miles on a super speedway, but Luiz Garcia Jr. made it count as he scored his best-ever finish in a FedEx Champ Car race.

The Brazilian finished 11th after starting 23rd, breaking his previous best of 12th place set at three different track this season, most recently Toronto last week. Garcia scored two CART championship points in his Hollywood-Embratel-Telegate Reynard/Mercedes-Benz, to give him a total of five for the year.

In addition, Garcia also earned the "Budweiser Hard Charger Award" for making the greatest improvement in track position throughout the race. Garcia will receive a check for $1,000 from Budweiser. He also leads in the Hard Charger Award standings for the 2000 season with 82 points.

It was also the third time this season Garcia was the highest finishing Mercedes-Benz.

"First of all, let me say that the Project Racing Team did a fantastic job today. I couldn't have done it without them and this is for them. We work well together. I'm very happy today. I really didn't know what to expect out of five-hundred miles and I had a lot of questions about stamina, but I can say I'm not physically tired. I'm just a little sore in my hands, neck, back and side, but it's worth it. This is a lot different than other ovals because there are more split-second decisions to be made. I'm proud to say I made a couple of good ones in not pitting right before the pits were closed because of a yellow. I think I did a great job there."

On being the top finishing Mercedes-Benz for the third time. "I'm grateful to them for helping us out when we first started. I consider this (scoring) the best way to pay them back and I want to score more and even higher for them. This is great." - Luiz Garcia Jr., Driver

"I'm very proud of Luiz and the crew. Luiz hung in there and was running some very reasonably competitive times in his first run on a super speedway. This is great as together this is his and our best finish. A big thanks to the crew as they worked day and night to make it work and it's also nice for Luiz to be named the Budweiser Hard Charger award winner. Hopefully we'll break into the top ten from now on." - Andreas Leberle, Team Owner

BROOKLYN, Mich. - Brazilian driver Luiz Garcia Jr. qualified for his first 500-mile race today at the Michigan Speedway.

Garcia, 29, ran his fastest time, 32.714 seconds (220.089 mph) on his second qualifying lap, which was also his best time of the weekend. Garcia improved on his time and speed with every session.

After qualifying, Garcia credited the Project Racing Group (P.R.G.) crew in helping him make the field with his 2000 Hollywood-Embratel-Telegate-Reynard/Mercedes-Benz. He also said he would run at his own pace, yet stay within competitive times.

The Michigan 500 begins at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

Quotes "I felt I could improve my time and speed with each run and I did. It's a nice feeling to qualify for my first five-hundred mile race and it's going to be a good one. Reliability is going to be very important here obviously as will driving in traffic. I think we could have had a better time, but with my accident in practice at Cleveland a few weeks ago, I missed test time here. We're going to sort a few things out, but we made some progress throughout." - Luiz Garcia Jr., Driver

"We have to credit the crew for getting Luiz in the race. They didn't miss a beat all weekend and pulled in several all-nighters in preparing the car and the back-up for the race. Luiz had a great qualifying run. To qualify here without testing is a big achievement for him and I am very happy and proud of him and the crew. Luiz's strong points have been his race and we're hoping to come home with some more points and who knows? Maybe even a podium finish." - Andreas Leberle, Team Owner

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Luiz Garcia