DETROIT (March 21, 2000) - Change is in the air, much of it for the better, as the FedEx Championship Series moves into the new century by launching its 2000 season at this weekend's Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Presented by Toyota at ...
DETROIT (March 21, 2000) - Change is in the air, much of it for the better, as the FedEx Championship Series moves into the new century by launching its 2000 season at this weekend's Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Presented by Toyota at Homestead-Miami Speedway (4:30 p.m. ET Sunday, same-day tape delay, ESPN).
The FedEx Championship Series closed out the 20th century in strong fashion courtesy of arguably the most competitive season in CART's 21-year history. The ultra-competitive 1999 season produced the closest points race in series history, ultimately decided by a tiebreaker; a record 10 different race winners; a record 12 different pole sitters and the second-closest race in all-time Champ Car history at Michigan. The series also posted increases in both attendance and television ratings, had a 130-percent increase in traffic on its website, initiated programs for female and African-American drivers and formed the inaugural CART All-Star Team.
The majority of Champ Car teams looking for an edge to end the unprecedented four-year reign of Target/Chip Ganassi Racing as FedEx Series champions have opted for changes in their competition packages to unseat 1999 champ Juan Montoya.
Interestingly, leading the charge in change is that same Target/Chip Ganassi Racing team. After utilizing a Honda engine and Reynard chassis en route to the past four championships - Jimmy Vasser in 1996, Alex Zanardi in '97 and '98 and Montoya last season - Target/Chip Ganassi will look to bring the series' ultimate prize to Toyota engines and Lola chassis. The tire of choice remains Firestone, which becomes the official tire of the series beginning this season after dominating the competition the past four years.
Montoya, a '99 CART All Star who earned a rookie-record seven victories last season, and Vasser, who has eight career wins, are poised to bring Toyota its first triumph since the manufacturer joined the series in 1996 and Lola its first since that same season. And a fifth title is never out of the question for the most dominant team the series has ever witnessed.
Montoya (Target Toyota Lola) enjoyed the most dominant rookie season in series history last season, but it was barely enough to edge the consistent Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard). Franchitti, a '99 CART All Star with three wins and 11 podiums overall in 20 starts, stalked the hard-charging Montoya throughout and forged a tie for the championship following the season finale at California Speedway. Montoya won the crown by virtue of most wins, seven to the three of Franchitti.
Now, the second-year phenom faces challenges not only from Franchitti, whose team - Team KOOL Green - was one of the few teams that did not make any major moves, but a host of title contenders.
The group includes the likes of Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard), Franchitti's Team KOOL Green teammate and '99 CART All Star; Newman/Haas Racing teammates Michael Andretti (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola), a '99 CART All Star, and Christian Fittipaldi (Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford Lola); the Team Rahal tandem of '99 CART All Star Max Papis (Miller Lite Ford Reynard) and prized rookie Kenny Brack (Shell Ford Reynard); and Adrian Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford Reynard) of Patrick Racing.
That's not to mention the new Marlboro Team Penske duo of Gil de Ferran (Marlboro Honda Reynard) and Helio Castro-Neves (Marlboro Honda Reynard). Like Target/Ganassi, the Penske team has changed both its engine and chassis, opting for the package that has won the past four FedEx Championship Series titles.
Franchitti, meanwhile, will compete following recovery from a fractured pelvis and brain contusions sustained in a testing accident Feb. 9 during CART Spring Training at Homestead. After being cleared to resume competition by Dr. Steve Olvey, CART Director of Medical Affairs, Franchitti tested at Nazareth Speedway Sunday and Monday and Team KOOL Green announced he will be in the car this weekend.
As with any off-season, there have been plenty of changes from both a driver and equipment standpoint during the preceding five months. In addition to de Ferran and Castro-Neves, drivers changing teams included Roberto Moreno (Visteon Ford Reynard), now with Patrick Racing; Tony Kanaan (Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Mercedes Reynard) with newly formed Mo Nunn Racing; Michel Jourdain Jr. (Herdez Mercedes Lola) with Bettenhausen Motorsports, and Luiz Garcia Jr. (Hollywood/Embratel-21/Tang/Banco Sofisa Mercedes Reynard) with the newly formed Arciero Project Racing Group.
Joining Target/Chip Ganassi Racing and Marlboro Team Penske in making significant equipment changes were Newman/Haas Racing, which is running Lola chassis for Andretti and Fittipaldi after campaigning Swifts; and Player's Forsythe Racing, which will campaign Ford power for drivers Patrick Carpentier (Player's Forsythe Racing Team Ford Reynard) and rookie Alex Tagliani (Player's Forsythe Racing Team Ford Reynard) rather than Mercedes-Benz.
Tagliani is one of six rookies who will make their FedEx Championship Series debuts this weekend. The others are Brack of Team Rahal, Shinji Nakano (Avex Honda Reynard) of Walker Racing, Norberto Fontana (Della Penna VideoMatch Toyota Reynard) of Della Penna Motorsports; Takuya Kurosawa (MTCI Ford Lola) of Dale Coyne Racing and 1999 Dayton Indy Lights champion Oriol Servia (Telefonica Toyota Reynard) of PPI Motorsports. Brack is the most recognizable of the first-year group, having won the 1999 Indianapolis 500.
Following Sunday's season-opening Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Presented by Toyota, the FedEx Championship Series moves to Nazareth Speedway for Round 2, the Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix Presented by Toyota, on Sunday, April 9.
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
* Michael Andretti (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola) is a two-time winner at Homestead (1997, '98) and also a runner-up last season. His victory from 14th in 1997 ranks third in CART history for the furthest starting position for a race winner on a short oval. Andretti, CART's all-time laps led leader with 6,119, also has led at least a lap in each of the past three events at Homestead, 136 in all, including race-high totals of 72 in 1997 and 62 in '98.
* Jimmy Vasser (Target Toyota Lola) owns three top-four finishes in four career appearances at Homestead. He was victorious in 1996, third in '97 and fourth last year. He has also qualified among the top 10 for all four events, topped by thirds in '96 and '98.
* Ford is hopeful that the show of strength displayed by its drivers at last month's CART Spring Training at Homestead is an omen for this weekend. Ford drivers took seven of the top nine spots on the combined speed charts, led by Max Papis (Miller Lite Ford Reynard), who was fastest overall at 209.907 mph (25.760 seconds). He was followed by Team Rahal teammate Kenny Brack (Shell Ford Reynard), at 208.651 mph (25.915 seconds), and Andretti, at 208.033 mph (25.992 seconds). Other Ford drivers in the group included Christian Fittipaldi (Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford Lola), fifth at 207.069 mph (26.113 seconds); rookie Alex Tagliani (Player's Forsythe Racing Team Ford Reynard), seventh at 206.437 mph (26.193 seconds); Patrick Carpentier (Player's Forsythe Racing Team Ford Reynard), eighth at 206.130 mph (26.232 seconds) and Roberto Moreno (Visteon Ford Reynard), ninth at 204.369 mph (26.458 seconds). Andretti's victories at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 1997 and '98 make Ford the leading winner (2) in four events at the venue. Honda and Mercedes-Benz have scored one each.
* Michael Andretti's next triumph will allow him to set a CART record for most seasons with at least one race victory. Andretti (Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola) is currently tied for the top spot with Rick Mears, each with 12 seasons with at least one victory. Andretti begins his 17th season of FedEx Championship Series competition this weekend.
* With his start at the Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Presented by Toyota, Jimmy Vasser will move into sole possession of sixth place for most consecutive starts in CART history. Vasser, whose streak began at Laguna Seca in 1993, is currently tied for sixth with Mario Andretti at 106 consecutive starts. Mauricio Gugelmin (NEXTEL PacWest Mercedes) is the current active leader with 108 starts heading into Homestead. The CART record for consecutive starts is 192, set by Al Unser Jr. from 1983-95.
* Team KOOL Green announced Monday that driver Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard), the runner-up in the 1999 FedEx Championship Series, will compete in this weekend's Marlboro Grand Prix Presented by Toyota. Franchitti, who sustained a fractured pelvis and brain contusions in a Feb. 9 testing accident during CART Spring Training at Homestead-Miami Speedway, completed two successful days of testing Sunday and Monday at Nazareth Speedway with no setbacks due to his injuries. "I was a little rusty at first," said Franchitti, who completed 138 laps during the two days on the 1-mile oval, with a fast lap of 20.2 seconds, "but everything came back pretty quickly. We just took our time, didn't put any pressure on ourselves to set lap records, and everything came together in its own time. Paul's [teammate Paul Tracy] done a fantastic job shouldering the testing work for the last few weeks, and he gave me a car that was well balanced from the start. I feel fine. I was a bit mentally tired last [Sunday] night, but there's no sign of vertigo, and believe me, it's really saying something if you can run around Nazareth at racing speeds without feeling dizzy!" Franchitti's test was attended by Dr. Terry Trammell, CART's chief orthopedic consultant, who commented, "Dario is doing fine and healing rapidly. He is a healthy, well-conditioned athlete and I have no doubt about his ability to drive without impairment from his injuries. We did make some minor changes to his seat to assist with driver comfort and better protect the fractured areas." Team KOOL Green owner Barry Green was elated to see Franchitti respond so quickly once he returned to the car. "It was pretty clear after his first few laps yesterday that he was ready to go," Green said, "but we wanted to have a night sleep on it and then do some long runs before we made a final decision. Now, it's 'all systems go' for Homestead and the 2000 season. I can't wait."
* Della Penna Motorsports announced Friday that Argentine Norberto Fontana will contest all 20 events during the 2000 FedEx Championship Series season, driving a Toyota-powered Reynard with sponsorship from VideoMatch, a top-rated Argentine television program. Richie Hearn, who has been with Della Penna Motorsports since 1994 and has driven for the team in the FedEx Championship Series since 1996, will remain on board as team owner John Della Penna seeks additional funding to expand to a two-car team. Fontana finished 15th in the International Formula 3000 Championship last year with four top-10 finishes. He also finished third and fourth, respectively, in the 1997 and '98 Japanese Formula Nippon Championships. In addition, Fontana made four starts for Sauber in the 1997 Formula One Championship, with top finishes of ninth at Silverstone and Hockenheim. "I am proud to have Norberto Fontana join Della Penna Motorsports," Della Penna said. "I have always wanted to field a fellow Argentine driver and have admired Norberto's talent for some time. While he only began testing with the team in early March, his ability to adjust to the car and bring it up to speed was very impressive. He still has a steep learning curve on the ovals, but I'm confident he will be a successful rookie standout in CART." Hearn, who earned 16 top-10 finishes in his four years with Della Penna in the FedEx Championship Series, took his "layoff" in stride. "I've been with John for a number of years, so this is definitely not an easy situation," he said. "It came down to finding sponsorship. We've heard so much about the lack of American drivers in open-wheel racing, but in this case, an American sponsor wasn't willing to step up to the plate. It's going to be difficult to watch someone behind the wheel of a Della Penna Motorsports entry, but I'd rather Norberto have the seat than for John to have to close the doors. There are around 30 other people that John has to consider besides me."
* The newly formed Arciero Project Racing Group completed a preliminary shakedown of its Hollywood/Embratel-21/Tang/Banco Sofisa Reynard Mercedes on Sunday at Putnam Park near Indianapolis. Though cold and damp conditions kept the car from reaching its potential, driver Luiz Garcia Jr. was pleased with the result.
"This was great," said Garcia Jr., who made 10 FedEx Championship Series starts during his rookie season of 1999. "I was very happy to be back in the car again. I was impressed with how hard the crew worked to get the car put together and running on such short notice. It was an impressive display of teamwork and efficiency." The Arciero Project Racing Group was founded last month and is operated by Andreas Leberle, former owner of the Project Indy CART team. Barry Brooke is the team manager while David Cripps serves as race engineer. "We are excited to be affiliated with a driver as capable as Luiz," Leberle said. "We have a lot of catching up to do and we need to get Luiz the proper seat time. We have great people in place, and we all have high expectations of ourselves to be competitive on and off the track."
* Prior to Friday afternoon's practice session at Homestead-Miami Speedway, FedEx Championship Series champion Juan Montoya and 1984 FedEx Championship Series champion Mario Andretti will participate in a photo opportunity at 3:20 p.m. in pit lane, during which Andretti will affix an All-Star decal to the Target Toyota Lola which Montoya will campaign in this year's FedEx Championship Series. Montoya was the leading vote-getter on the inaugural five-member CART All-Star Team in 1999, and received the Mario Andretti Trophy emblematic of that achievement. The other members of the team - Dario Franchitti, Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard), Michael Andretti and Max Papis will also carry All-Star decals on their cars during the coming FedEx Championship Series campaign.
* The season-opening Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Presented by Toyota marks the return of the Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge, a season-long pit stop competition that will pay $50,000 to the winning team at the season-ending Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota at California Speedway. The inaugural Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge in 1999 was won by the crew for Paul Tracy, headed by team manager Tony Cotman. Points in the Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge, sponsored by Craftsman, Official Tool of CART, are awarded according to the same scale used to determine the FedEx Championship Series champion (20-16-14-12-10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1), but based on total time spent in the pits at each event. Points will be accumulated through the first 19 events of the season and the top four teams at that point will qualify for a head-to-head battle for the $50,000 top prize prior to the season finale. Added to the season-ending competition this year will be a wild-card entry, the crew that compiles the lowest total pit time during the Michigan 500 Presented by Toyota, July 23 at Michigan Speedway.
* This weekend's season-opening Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Presented by Toyota will mark the first in a season-long series of all-driver autograph sessions being held at all FedEx Championship Series events. Beginning at 4:45 p.m. Saturday, the paddock area at the speedway will be opened to the public and FedEx Championship Series drivers will be available to sign autographs for the fans in the team hospitality area. The all-driver autograph sessions are an integral part of Fan Appreciation Day activities designated by CART for each race venue this year.
* Tickets for the Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit, Round 7 of the FedEx Championship Series, went on sale Friday at all Ticketmaster locations. The event is scheduled for June 16-18 on the Raceway at Belle Isle. Tickets for the race, Detroit's largest annual sporting event, may also be purchased by calling 1-800-498-RACE or (313) 870-7223. As in past years, Friday, June 16 will be "Ford Free Prix Day," with all general admission seating being offered free of charge courtesy of Ford Motor Company. Support events for the weekend include the Dayton Indy Lights Championship, the Johnson Controls 100 featuring the BF Goodrich Tires Trans-Am Series, the Barber Dodge Pro Series and two Neon Charity Challenge events. For further event and ticket information, visit www.imgmotorsports.com .
ON THE AIR
* Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Presented by Toyota qualifying will air 2 a.m. ET Sunday on ESPN2. CART 2Day, airs 11:30 a.m. Sunday on ESPN2. The Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Presented by Toyota will air on a same-day, tape-delay basis, beginning 4:30 p.m. ET Sunday on ESPN.
MARLBORO GRAND PRIX OF MIAMI PRESENTED BY TOYOTA "QUOTEBOARD"
JUAN MONTOYA (Target Toyota Lola), on defending his FedEx Championship Series championship: "Everyone has expectations of the defending champion, so now, if we don't do well, it's because we are struggling, but last year, it was because I was a rookie. This is a new season and I think the team has a chance to be even better than last year. But I try not to think about being the champion. Last year was last year. I need to take what I learned and go out and do better in 2000. I think we're in a good position to do well. The Lola has been responsive and competitive and Toyota has its act together. We've had the power in testing, and the car has good driveability. We're just in the first steps of progress with this package, but I'm pleased. Lola is 100 percent behind this car, Toyota is 100 percent behind this car and the whole team is 100 percent behind this car, so now, we've got to maximize what we've got."
CHIP GANASSI, Target/Chip Ganassi Racing team owner, on the anticipation surrounding the season-opening Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Presented by Toyota: "I don't think I've ever been as excited for Race Number One as I am this year. Seeing the results during testing, I'm confident that our move to Toyota and Lola can help keep us ahead of the game. Jimmy [Vasser] as been looking great, and Juan [Montoya} gets to race on this track [Homestead-Miami Speedway] for the second time. It will be nice to get this first race out of the way so we can finally talk about something other than our busy off-season."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (KOOL Honda Reynard), on his test session Sunday and Monday at Nazareth Speedway and his return to competition at the Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Presented by Toyota: "I was a little rusty at first, but everything came back pretty quickly. We just took out time, didn't put any pressure on ourselves to set lap records, and everything came together in its own time. Paul's [teammate Paul Tracy] done a fantastic job shouldering the testing work for the last few weeks, and he gave me a car that was well balanced from the start. I feel fine. I was a bit mentally tired last night, but there's no sign of vertigo, and believe me, it's really saying something if you can run around Nazareth at racing speeds without feeling dizzy! I'm just looking forward to getting on with it and racing at Homestead."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI (Big Kmart/Texaco Havoline Ford Lola), on his prospects for success in the 2000 FedEx Championship Series season: "All of the elements have come together for the start of a great season. We always set our goals [for the next season] high during the off-season, but our testing has given us a good level of confidence. The car feels great. The Ford and Lola have been working well. The team has been working well and I am ready to race. The competition is going to be tough but I think we are in the best shape we have been in the past four years. Experience is the key. There are a lot of young drivers in this series and they are talented but I hope my experience gives me an edge. I don't feel like there is more pressure to do well since we won two of the last three races [at Homestead-Miami Speedway] and have had some good luck at Homestead. I love racing on this track. It suits my style. It would be nice to finish in second place or above, preferably above second place. I'm ready to go racing."
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI (Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford Lola), on carrying the momentum of successful off-season testing into the start of the FedEx Championship Series season: "We have had a really good off-season testing program. If there were points given for off-season testing, we would be looking very good for the championship. Unfortunately, there are only 20 events where points are given and everything has to work perfect during those 20. Overall we are very excited to get the 2000 season started. I have a new paint scheme on my car and new overalls [firesuit] and clothes, but mostly everything is the same as last year, which is good. The competition in the series will be even stronger this year than ever before. It's amazing. Everyone has to be at the top of their form both physically and mentally to do well in this series. We had a very good season last year, competition wise, and we plan to carry that over to 2000. We had good pit stops last year and the car was reliable. I think our chances are very good for a strong season."
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (Tecate/Quaker State/ Patrick Racing Ford Reynard), on the coming FedEx Championship Series season: "I think we are in very good shape as far as starting the season. During our off-season testing program, the Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth has run without any major problems and has been very competitive. We have a good team structure, good personnel and are better organized and prepared as a team. Plus, Roberto [Moreno, new Patrick Racing teammate] and I work very well together. We wont really know what we have until we start racing, but I am confident we will have a good season."
GIL de FERRAN (Marlboro Honda Reynard), on making his first FedEx Championship Series start as a member of Marlboro Team Penske: "I'm really looking forward to getting the 2000 season underway. There have been so many changes at Marlboro Team Penske that we've been faced with a big learning curve, but we've worked really hard during the off-season and things are coming together. The Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami is a race where I have consistently done well although we have not achieved the ultimate prize, so I'm hoping for a good result."
HELIO CASTRO-NEVES (Marlboro Honda Reynard), on the special significance of this year's Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Presented by Toyota: "The Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami is a special race for me given it's my second home and a lot of friends come to the race to support me. In two years racing there I've had my ups and downs. Last year I led the race and was running well until a mechanical problem ended my day. In 1998, I hit the turn four wall during practice and brushed the turn two wall during the race. The Marlboro Honda Reynard has been consistent and reliable in pre-season testing at the track so I'm hoping for a good result come race day this year."
JIMMY VASSER (Target Toyota Lola), on making a fresh start during the 2000 FedEx Championship Series season: "I'm ready for this season. We've addressed the problems we had last year and I'm looking forward to all the new challenges - the clean slate with the engine program and the chassis. I think both of these things are going to be advantageous to me, and I'm ready to go. I'm a year older and a year smarter. It's always nice to put bad things behind you, and last year was bad in many ways. Testing has gone better than expected, and we just need to settle down and get down to business. Can Target/Chip Ganassi Racing win a fifth straight championship ... who knows?"
ROBERTO MORENO (Visteon Ford Reynard), on his first start as a member of Patrick Racing: "I have a lot of confidence starting the season. I am impressed with the Patrick Racing organization. We have strong leadership in [team owner] Pat Patrick and [general manager] Jim McGee. Engineers John Ward and Ed Nathman work well together and the entire crew does a great job. We have great support from our sponsor, Visteon, and a reliable competitive package in the Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Firestone combination. I the fact that Adrian and I work well together is also an advantage. I has paid off during our off-season testing, and I think it will be an asset during the season."
PATRICK CARPENTIER (Player's Forsythe Racing Team Ford Reynard), on continuing the Player's Forsythe Racing Team's successful run at Homestead: "After an off-season of testing and working hard to get ready for the new season, I'm really looking forward to performing under competitive circumstances. Having the season-opener at Homestead is especially motivating because the Player's team has had outstanding success there. We're going for our second straight win on that oval. Last year, I was one of the fastest on that track and I think, with the new package we have, I can do even better this time. With the favorable results we had in all of our testing this winter, I think we're ready to make an impact right from the start." ALEX TAGLIANI (Player's Forsythe Racing Team Ford Reynard), on making his first career FedEx Championship Series start in the Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Presented by Toyota: "As you might expect, I'm very eager to make my CART debut. It's certainly one of the high points in my racing career thus far.
"I feel very privileged to be the latest Canadian driver to have a ride with the Player's team, which has been so successful in developing talent. We put in some great laps at Homestead in our off-season testing and, in our last session there we simulated full-length race conditions, which really got me primed for this new and exciting challenge. I know that the battle for top rookie honors in CART is going to be hotly contested, but I relish the competition. I hope I can perform as well as Jacques Villeneuve and Greg Moore did in their rookie season with the Player's team. "
MAURICIO GUGELMIN (Hollywood PacWest Mercedes), on the growth of the PacWest Racing Group during the off-season: "I think PacWest Racing has really matured as a team in recent months. We have done all the work and no it is time to prove our efforts out on the track. We have made some great gains during the off-season, but I am sure the opposition has done likewise, and obviously, we are taking nothing for granted. Miami, Brazil and Portland - because it is the home track of our owner, Bruce McCaw - all feel like 'home' races for me during the year. I must say that it is nice to go to a race and know I can head home at the end of the day and sleep in my own bed."
MARK BLUNDELL (Motorola PacWest Mercedes), on completing the task at the Homestead-Miami Speedway: "There is no doubt that we have some unfinished business at Miami. Mo [Gugelmin] and myself have both always qualified reasonably well on the Homestead oval. But neither of us has had a top-five finish at the circuit. I believe the right package to start winning races again this season, and it would certainly be nice to prove that starting this weekend. Our pre-season has gone quite well and I am looking forward to a strong championship after a couple of dull ones. The package from Mercedes-Benz is much improved and the whole team is focused on getting us back on the podium. I would say the PacWest team is more motivated and determined than ever before."
FAST FACTS FOR THE MARLBORO GRAND PRIX OF MIAMI PRESENTED BY TOYOTA
WHAT: Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Presented by Toyota.
WHERE: Homestead, Fla.
WHEN: Thursday-Sunday, March 23-26.
SUPPORT EVENTS: CART Toyota Atlantic Championship; Barber Dodge Pro Series.
SCHEDULE: (All times local) THURSDAY, MARCH 23 - Atlantic Open Test, 9:15-10:15 a.m.; Atlantic Open Test, 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m.; Atlantic Open Test, 2-3 p.m.; Atlantic Open Test, 4-5 p.m. FRIDAY, MARCH 24 - Atlantic Practice, 9:30-10:10 a.m.; Champ Car Practice, 10:30 a.m.- Noon; Atlantic Race One Qualifying (Single Car), 12:50-1:30 p.m.; Champ Car Practice (Group 1), 2:30-3:15 p.m.; Champ Car Practice (Group 2), 3:30-4:15 p.m.; SATURDAY, MARCH 25 - Atlantic Practice, 8-8:40 a.m.; Champ Car Practice (Group 1), 9:45-10:30 a.m.; Champ Car Practice (Group 2), 10:45-11:30 a.m.; Atlantic Race Two Qualifying (Single Car)/Race One Warm-up, 12:15-1:15 p.m.; Champ Car Qualifying, 1:30-3 p.m.; Atlantic Race One, 4:45-5:45 p.m. SUNDAY, MARCH 26 - Atlantic Race Two Warm-up, 8:45-9 a.m.; Champ Car Warm-up, 10-10:30 a.m.; Atlantic Race Two, 11 a.m.-Noon; Grid Champ Cars, 1:15 p.m.; Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Presented by Toyota, 2 p.m.
BROADCAST: TV-ESPN (Tape delay, 4:30 p.m. ET). RADIO-CART Radio Network.
PRE-RACE PROGRAMMING: Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Presented by Toyota qualifying, 2 a.m. ET Sunday, ESPN2; CART 2Day, 11:30 a.m. Sunday, ESPN2.
1999 CHAMPION: Greg Moore.
1999 POLESITTER: Greg Moore.
TRACK LAYOUT: 1.502-mile oval.
RACE LENGTH: 225.3 miles, 150 laps.
TRACK RECORDS: Qualifying (one lap) - 1998, Greg Moore, 217.541 mph (24.856 seconds); Race - 1998, Michael Andretti, 144.339 mph.
RACE ROUND: 1 of 20.
1999 POINTS LEADERS: Juan Montoya, 212 (won championship on tiebreaker); Dario Franchitti, 212; Paul Tracy, 161; Michael Andretti, 151; Max Papis, 150.
NEXT EVENT: April 9, Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix Presented by Toyota, Nazareth Speedway, Nazareth, Pa.
Greg Moore, who a year earlier had come up just 0.075 seconds short in his bid to defeat Michael Andretti in the FedEx Championship Series season opener, turned the tables on his adversary to claim victory in the inaugural event of the 1999 season, the Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Presented by Toyota. Moore (Player's Forsythe Racing Team Mercedes Reynard) finished 1.110 seconds ahead of Andretti (Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Swift) to claim his fifth career FedEx Championship Series victory, and his first from the pole. He averaged 136.671 miles per hour and led a race-high 96 laps en route to the victory. Andretti scored the 25 runner-up finish of his 16-year career and his fourth podium performance in his past 16 season openers, including victories at Homestead in 1997 and '98. Third place went to Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard), who recorded his fifth podium result in seven starts. Moore exited with 22 points and the FedEx Championship Series lead, followed by Andretti with 16 and Franchitti with 14.
Vital race statistics
Time of race: 1 hour, 38 minutes, 54.535 seconds.
Average speed: 136.671 mph.
Margin of victory: 1.110 seconds.
Caution flags: 3 for 38 laps.
Lap leaders: Greg Moore, 96 laps; Helio Castro-Neves, 29; Dario Franchitti, 18; Gil de Ferran, 2; Michael Andretti, 2; Adrian Fernandez, 2; Patrick Carpentier, 1.