Indy Lights Graduates Succeed Milwaukee, WI -- Graduates of the PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship are riding a record wave of CART Champ Car success heading into this weekend's Miller Lite 200. Dating to 1997's season-ending ...
Indy Lights Graduates Succeed
Milwaukee, WI -- Graduates of the PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship are riding a record wave of CART Champ Car success heading into this weekend's Miller Lite 200. Dating to 1997's season-ending Marlboro 500, at least one Indy Lights grad has been on the podium in each of the last seven CART races to date.
"The main purpose of the PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship is to move drivers up a rung to CART Champ Car competition," said Indy Lights president Roger Bailey. "CART has made it clear that the establishment of a true ladder system is a priority and we are pleased that graduates from Indy Lights have already been among the front runners in the FedEx Championship Series."
Anchored by 1998 race winners Adrian Fernandez (1992 Indy Lights Rookie of the Year) and Greg Moore (1995 Indy Lights champion), a record eight Indy Lights products are racing full time in the 1998 FedEx Championship Series. The lineup also includes Bryan Herta (1993 Indy Lights champion), Andre Ribeiro (1994 Indy Lights Rookie of the Year), Paul Tracy (1990 Indy Lights Champion), PJ Jones and 1997 Indy Lights champion Tony Kanaan and runner-up Helio Castro-Neves.
Fernandez started the current streak with a third-place finish in last year's finale at California Speedway in Fontana, California. Moore then moved 1998 off to a solid start with a second-place finish from the pole at the season-opening Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami last March at Homestead, Fla.
In the year's second race, Fernandez moved back to the forefront with a convincing win in the inaugural Budweiser 500 at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan. The victory was a milestone for Fernandez and the Indy Lights series. A record nine Indy Lights graduates started the race and seven finished in points paying positions (among the top 12) for the first time. Moore followed Fernandez in fourth place while Tracy (5th), Kanaan (6th), Ribeiro (9th), Castro-Neves (11th) and Gualter Salles (12th) completed the record-setting sweep. Salles, a 1996 Indy Lights star, has served as a substitute driver in three races this season.
Herta retired early with clutch failure at Motegi, but rebounded to win the pole and finish third one race later at Long Beach. From there, Moore has kept the Indy Lights run of success going coming into Milwaukee. His third place finishes at Nazareth and last week at Gateway were split by a thrilling victory in the Rio 400 earlier in May.
In total, Indy Lights grads have won 21 CART Champ Car races dating to Tracy's first win in the 1993 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Tracy leads all Indy Lights grads with 13 victories while Ribeiro and Moore each have three wins to their credit. Fernandez has a pair of CART wins.
The previous podium record for Indy Lights grads in CART competition was five races in 1997 when Paul Tracy and Greg Moore combined to win every race from Nazareth through Detroit. Tracy scored consecutive victories at Nazareth, Rio and Gateway while Moore followed with back-to-back wins at Milwaukee and Detroit.
Source: CART Online