CHAMPCAR/CART: Homestead; Facts, quotes and what to look for...

<pre> Date: March 26, 2000 Broadcast: 4:30 - 7 p.m. ET on ESPN Total Mileage: 225 Miles (150 laps) Track Length: 1.5-Mile Oval 1999 Winner: ...

<pre> Date: March 26, 2000 Broadcast: 4:30 - 7 p.m. ET on ESPN Total Mileage: 225 Miles (150 laps) Track Length: 1.5-Mile Oval 1999 Winner: Greg Moore Toyota's Best Finish: 14th - Cristiano da Matta, 1999 Toyota's Best Qualifying: 6th - Cristiano da Matta, 1999 Track Speed Records Qualifying: 1998, Greg Moore (217.541 mph) Race: 1998, Michael Andretti (144.339 mph)

</pre> What To Look For At Homestead:

TARGET GANASSI SET TO DEBUT WITH TOYOTA POWER - Four-time defending CART FedEx Championship Series champion Target Chip Ganassi Racing will make its debut with Toyota power this weekend at the Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Presented by Toyota. Along with the switch to the new Toyota RV8E engine, the team also has made the move to the Lola chassis for 2000.

One thing that won't change are the pair of CART title-holders in the cockpit as 1999 champion Juan Montoya and 1996 PPG Cup champ Jimmy Vasser return as teammates for the second consecutive season. Overall, the team has won 30 races over the past four years, 21 more than its closest competitor, along with four championships won by three different drivers.

TOYOTA EYES FIRST CHAMP CAR VICTORY - After an impressive stretch of winter testing, Toyota heads to Miami with an eye on its first Champ Car victory.

There is never a guarantee of winning on the highly competitive FedEx Championship Series circuit, but having Target Chip Ganassi Racing in your camp may be the closest thing. If the Target team maintains its pace achieved over the past four years, Toyota may see a victory within the first three races of the 2000 campaign. Since 1996, Target Ganassi has averaged a victory every 2.4 starts (30 victories in 72 races). In addition, the team has won at least one of its first three races in each of the last four seasons.

While still looking for its first Champ Car triumph, victory has not eluded the manufacturer in other forms of North American racing. Toyota has enjoyed tremendous success in winning in the SCORE Off-Road Desert series with Ivan Stewart, as well as at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb with Rod Millen.

VASSER HAS SEEN THEM ALL - Target Chip Ganassi driver Jimmy Vasser is one of only nine drivers expected to be in this year's Marlboro Grand Prix Presented by Toyota field that have raced in the Champ Car event at the South Florida track each year since it opened in 1996. In the previous four events, Vasser has one victory, a third and a fourth, and has never started below ninth (3rd, 6th, 3rd, 9th). Vasser is third in all-time Champ Car race points earned at Homestead behind only Michael Andretti and the late Greg Moore.

Vasser is also the only CART driver to win at Homestead and go on to win the series championship. The Target driver opened the 1996 season with his first career Champ Car victory on his way four wins and the PPG Cup. PRIME TIME DEBUTS A YEAR AGO - Most CART on-lookers expected to see a talented rookie crop take to the track last March at Homestead, but few anticipated rookies Juan Montoya and Cristiano da Matta to make their mark so quickly in Champ Car competition.

Da Matta began at Miami by setting a new Toyota record in qualifying with a sixth - the manufacturers first-ever top-10 qualifying effort. The sixth was the highest a rookie has debuted since Gil de Ferran started fourth in the Miami streets in 1995. Da Matta followed that up by running seventh throughout the Miami race before a late-race tire puncture dropped him to 14th. He went on to establish Toyota-bests for overall finish with a fourth at Nazareth - one of two top-fives on the year - as well as for top-10 qualifying performances with five. For the season, da Matta finished as the runner-up to Montoya for CART Rookie of the Year honors.

While da Matta had the jump on his fellow rookies in qualifying at Homestead, few CART drivers were able to get the upper hand on Montoya again during the 1999 campaign. The Colombian qualified eighth at Homestead. After losing a lap early, he fought back to earn a top-10 finish (10th) in his Champ Car debut. Just two races later, he captured his first CART win at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on the way to seven victories and the 1999 FedEx Championship Series title

ANOTHER NEW FACE AT MIAMI IN 2000 - With the top two 1999 rookies set to campaign Toyota power in 2000, the manufacturer is hoping for similar results this season with another first-year driver. Oriol Servia, the 1999 Indy Lights champion, is scheduled to make his debut with PPI Motorsports team at Homestead. One statistic that bodes well for both Servia and teammate Cristiano da Matta (the 1998 Lights title-holder) is that every former Indy Lights champion currently competing in the series has earned at least one Champ Car victory.

TOYOTA ATLANTIC RETURNS TO MIAMI - The Toyota Atlantic Championship returns to Homestead for the first time since 1997 with a Saturday/Sunday double-header. Previous race-winners Andrew Bordin, Buddy Rice and Will Langhorne are expected to compete with heralded rookie and 1999 Formula 2000 champion Daniel Wheldon for the title.

"Quotes"

JIM AUST, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. vice president of motorsports:

"Our goal is to win right now. We've added the most successful team in the sport. We have a tremendous group of drivers and we have, by far, our best engine to date in the RV8E. We expect to win and, hopefully, our first will come this weekend at the Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Presented by Toyota."

JIMMY VASSER, #12 Target Toyota/Lola:

"I was a little worried with all the changes coming into 2000. With the new chassis and new engine, I wasn't really sure what to think. But through testing, we've only had one small hiccup with Juan's engine at Phoenix. Each time we go out to test, Toyota brings a little something more. I'm optimistic for Homestead. I'm ready to see it in a race and I think we're going to have good results."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Oriol Servia , Buddy Rice , Andrew Bordin , Chip Ganassi , Rod Millen , Greg Moore , Cristiano da Matta
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing