CHAMPCAR/CART: Long Beach: Ford Racing preview

Grand Prix of Long Beach - Long Beach, Calif. WHEN: April 12-14, 2002 TRACK LAYOUT: 1.968 temporary street course RACE DISTANCE: 82 laps [161.376 miles] TELEVISION COVERAGE [ET]: FOX; 3:30pm [LIVE] DEFENDING CHAMPION: Helio Castroneves DEFENDING...

Grand Prix of Long Beach - Long Beach, Calif.
WHEN: April 12-14, 2002
TRACK LAYOUT: 1.968 temporary street course
RACE DISTANCE: 82 laps [161.376 miles]
TELEVISION COVERAGE [ET]: FOX; 3:30pm [LIVE]

DEFENDING CHAMPION: Helio Castroneves
DEFENDING POLESITTER: Helio Castroneves [1 minute, 8.556 seconds; 103.343 miles per hour]
QUALIFYING RECORD: Gil de Ferran [1 minute, 7.494 seconds; 104.969 miles per hour]

2002 DRIVER POINTS: Cristiano da Matta [21], Dario Franchitti [16], Christian Fittipaldi [14], MICHEL JOURDAIN, JR. [12], ALEX TAGLIANI [10]

2002 MANUFACTURER POINTS: Toyota [21], Honda [18], FORD-COSWORTH [12]

CART VISITS LONG BEACH WHERE FORD-COSWORTH HOPES TO END DROUGHT - The CART FedEx Championship Series returns to the United States this weekend where it begins the domestic portion of its schedule with the Grand Prix of Long Beach. This weekend's race marks the 19th year of the highly successful event, which is contested on the streets of downtown Long Beach and is considered by many to be CART's signature race. Although this event has been a successful one for CART, it hasn't been for Ford and Cosworth Racing. Consider that it has been 16 years since Ford or Cosworth stood atop the podium at Long Beach [Michael Andretti - 1986], and four years since Ford or Cosworth sat on the pole [Bryan Herta - 1998].

FORD AND CART TO DEBUT NEW BLUE BOX AT LONG BEACH - The Impact Sensor Program, or "Blue Box," has been an integral part of the CART FedEx Championship Series since 1997 when Ford and CART partnered to establish the program. Not only has the Blue Box made Champ Car racing safer, but it has also provided Ford, CART's Official Safety Technologies provider, with invaluable data that will allow it to design safer passenger cars. This weekend's Grand Prix of Long Beach will see each primary and backup Champ Car carry the latest Blue Box, which was designed and produced by Delphi. Roughly the same size and weight of the box it replaces, the new box provides several advantages, including the ability to record additional parameters other than impact data, such as speed, throttle and steering angle. This box can also be used to record data from external sensors like those that one day may be placed in the drivers' earpieces or seatbelts. For more information on this program, please contact Ford Public Relations representative Andrew Punzal [313-610-6276].

FORD-COSWORTH DRIVER NOTES:

Patrick Carpentier - Although he opened the 2002 season with a seventh-place finish in Monterrey, his legacy at Long Beach has been disappointing with four career Champ Car starts all resulting in finishes of 15th or worse. However he did score two top-10 results on temporary street courses last season [Houston - 10th, Detroit - 8th] and has seven career top-10 results on temporary street circuits, highlighted by a second-place finish at Vancouver in 1999.

Mario Dominguez - Made his Champ Car start in Monterrey where he qualified 12th but finished a disappointing 17th [mechanical]. Recorded a sixth-place finish in the 1999 Indy Lights race at Long Beach after qualifying 17th, earning the Dayton "Move to the Front" award.

Michel Jourdain, Jr. - Debuted with Team Rahal and new sponsor, Gigante, at Monterrey by scoring a fourth-place result - his best career CART finish on a road course. Made his first Champ Car start at Long Beach in 1996 where he became the youngest driver to start a CART race at 19 years, six months and 12 days. He has two top-15 finishes at Long Beach in six career starts, finishing 11th in 2000 and 13th in 2001 [qualified 7th]. Four of his eight career top-10 CART finishes have come on temporary street courses, including two last season at Vancouver [6th] and Australia [7th].

Max Papis - Made his 100th career Champ Car start at Monterrey where he scored a top-10 result by finishing ninth. Although he has two top-10 qualifying efforts in five career starts at Long Beach [2000 - 6th, 1999 - 4th], he has recorded just one top-10 result [1999 - 9th]. He scored championship points in three of the five races on temporary street circuits a year ago, highlighted by an 8th-place showing in Toronto, and has 13 career top-10 results in temporary street races.

Alex Tagliani - Finished 5th in Monterrey to record his third consecutive top-five result dating back to last season [Fontana - 3rd, Australia - 3rd]. He has qualified 11th in each of his two career starts at Long Beach, scoring finishes of 18th [2001] and 4th [2000]. He has also finished 6th or better in five career temporary street races, highlighted by his runner-up effort last season in Toronto.

Jimmy Vasser - Started his first race for Team Rahal at Monterrey where he finished a disappointing 20th following a first-lap incident with Paul Tracy. Now heads to the streets of Long Beach where he has scored seven top-10 finishes and qualified 10th or better six times in 10 career Champ Car starts. Qualified third in 1996 and recorded his third victory of the season en route to the first FedEx Championship of his career.

COSWORTH RACING'S CHAMP CAR WINS - Max Papis' third career Champ Car victory at Laguna Seca on October 14, 2001, was the 212th victory for Cosworth Racing in USAC- and CART-sanctioned races since it entered North American open-wheeled racing in 1976. Cosworth has won 166 CART-sanctioned races and 46 USAC-sanctioned races, including five victories in 1996 with the Ford-Cosworth XB engine during the inaugural season of the Indy Racing League [IRL]. Michael Andretti has won the most races using a Cosworth engine [25], followed by Rick Mears [20], Bobby Rahal [18], Mario Andretti [16] and Johnny Rutherford [16].

SPARK PLUGS - Sigma Autosport driver Max Papis has scored championship points in seven consecutive races dating back to last season's race in Germany ... Ford Racing development driver Danica Patrick is slated to participate in this weekend's Pro/Celebrity race on Saturday. Patrick, who spent time overseas racing Formula Fords, has tested a midget car for team owner Bob East, and is hopeful of running a partial schedule this season.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Max Papis , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Christian Fittipaldi , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Bryan Herta , Mario Dominguez , Mario Andretti , Rick Mears , Danica Patrick , Cristiano da Matta , Johnny Rutherford , Michel Jourdain