CHAMPCAR/CART: Junqueira, Gidley Houston preview

What: Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston - Round 18 of the 21-race CART FedEx Championship Series. When: Sunday, Oct. 7. Broadcast: 2 p.m. Eastern, live on ESPN. Broadcast live on CART Radio Network affiliates. Coverage of practice, ...

What: Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston - Round 18 of the 21-race CART FedEx Championship Series.

When: Sunday, Oct. 7. Broadcast: 2 p.m. Eastern, live on ESPN. Broadcast live on CART Radio Network affiliates. Coverage of practice, qualifying and the race is also live on Qualifying --- Saturday, Oct. 6. Practice - Friday, Oct. 5.

Where: The 1.527-mile temporary street course in Houston, Texas.

History: Team Target has an outstanding record in Houston, including last year's one-two finish by former team drivers Jimmy Vasser and Juan Montoya. At the inaugural race in Houston in 1998, former team driver Alex Zanardi placed second and Vasser finished fourth.

HOUSTON - Last year's performance by Team Target in Houston was nothing short of amazing. Former team drivers Jimmy Vasser and Juan Montoya scored an incredible one-two finish on the streets of Houston, one of the greatest moments in the history of the storied organization. The feat marked the third time in the team's 11-year history that Target Chip Ganassi Racing claimed the top two positions.

Although it's a rare accomplishment, not many people would be surprised if Team Target could pull it off again. The team has scored one pole (Montoya in 1999) and has recorded three podium finishes since the inaugural race at Houston in 1998. The Team Target duo of Memo Gidley and Bruno Junqueira is looking to add to those totals this weekend.

The 10-turn, 1.527-mile temporary street circuit places a premium on qualifying, as the highest starting position for a winner in Houston is third. In the last two street course events, rookie Bruno Junqueira has qualified sixth (Vancouver) and second (Detroit). The talented Brazilian is hoping to continue his strong qualifying efforts on street courses this weekend in Houston.

"I really enjoy racing on street courses," Junqueira said. "You have to be aggressive and throw the car into the corners. I think I've qualified pretty well this year on street courses. I thought I had the won the pole in Detroit but I just missed it by a few hundredths of a second. Team Target has given me great cars all year on the street courses, and I think that we have a great chance to win the pole and win the race this weekend. I've had some really bad luck on street courses this year. In Detroit, I was running in second when we had a mechanical problem on the car. Then, in Vancouver, I was taken out of contention for a win on the first lap of the race. The team fixed my car and I was running laps as fast as the leader. Hopefully, this will be our weekend to score a victory on a street course".

Teammate Memo Gidley will pilot the No. 12 Target Toyota/Lola for the 10th time this year. The 31-year old still stands sixth in laps led for the season. In 1999, Gidley started 25th and finished 14th in Houston. Gidley would love to celebrate his recent birthday with a win this weekend in Houston.

"I really like the track in Houston. I've raced there in Champ Cars twice in the past and had some success. The key is to qualify well. It's a very tight track, with little room to pass. If you can start near the front, you have a great chance to win the race. The No. 12 car won there last year with Jimmy and I hope I can make it two in a row. It's been a roller coaster of a season for us. We've had some great races and have been really unlucky in some other ones. I'd love to end the season on a high note with a few wins."

Team Target managing director Mike Hull is looking forward to returning to the site of last year's one-two finish.

"Last year in Houston was a special race for us," Hull said. "You could not script a better finish to a race. It was a great day for everyone involved with this team. This year we're going back to Houston with two different drivers, but we have the same intention - to finish first and second again. It was a great day to have both of our drivers on the podium there last year. That was one of the best days I've had in my racing career. It was like a storybook ending to our season that year as both Jimmy and Juan were running in one of their last races with this team. This year, we return to Houston with a lot of confidence and are hungry for another victory."

At the Rockingham 500 on Sept. 22, Team Target participated in a program to donate $10 for every lap completed by a Team Target driver. At the end of the day, Target Chip Ganassi Racing donated $1,380 to the World Association to Aid Children in the name of Alex Zanardi.


Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Memo Gidley , Bruno Junqueira , Alex Zanardi , Chip Ganassi , Mike Hull
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing