CHAMPCAR/CART: Mexico City: Pre-race notes

The Gran Premio Telmex/Gigante Presented by Banamex/Visa, Nov. 15-17 on SPEED Channel (Live, 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time), is the final race of the 2002 CART FedEx Championship Series season. Following is a current round-up of the latest CART news, ...

The Gran Premio Telmex/Gigante Presented by Banamex/Visa, Nov. 15-17 on SPEED Channel (Live, 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time), is the final race of the 2002 CART FedEx Championship Series season. Following is a current round-up of the latest CART news, trends to follow, names to watch and a few statistics to track as CART prepares for its season finale at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City, Mexico.

Attendance Mark In Jeopardy - CART is anticipating one of the biggest crowds in its history as the series heads to Mexico City and could break a pair of records over the weekend. The single-event record of 318,000 set two years ago in Monterrey, Mexico could be in jeopardy and a crowd of 286,562 would eclipse CART's all-time season attendance mark set in 2000 during a 20-race season.

Fight Not Over - Cristiano da Matta sewed up the 2002 CART FedEx Championship title in Miami but there is a trio of drivers battling for the $500,000 runner-up spot in the season championship. Bruno Junqueira currently holds the second spot by three points over Patrick Carpentier and by 10 points over Dario Franchitti.

CART Returns To Mexico City - CART did battle twice previously on the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit, racing on what was a 2.48-mile track in 1980 and '81. Bobby Unser won the pole for both of those races but Rick Mears took victory back across the border in each visit.

Track Renovations Make For Great Viewing - The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez is now of the most fabled racetracks in all of Mexico, but has undergone significant renovations for this weekend's race. The circuit was lengthened to 2.75 miles and now winds through a 26,500-seat baseball stadium before heading to the famed Peraltada Curve. New grandstands and garages have been built and the track has been resurfaced to provide a smooth racing experience.

Da Matta Not Done - Having clinched the 2002 CART title does not leave Cristiano da Matta without something to chase. The Brazilian driver is one of just five drivers to have won seven races in a season and could match the all-time CART record of eight victories in a season if he can win this weekend.

Another Debut - Dale Coyne Racing and J.A.G. Sports will introduce another driver to the CART series as Andre Lotterer will make his series debut in the #19 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone. Coyne will be running his second rookie driver of the year, having fielded a car at Rockingham for Darren Manning's Champ Car debut, where he led 18 laps and finished ninth.

Tripling Up - Ten drivers have already scored more than 100 points this year, with Kenny Brack (94), Tony Kanaan (93) and Scott Dixon (91) all within reach of triple digits. The series record for most drivers with 100 points is 11, set during the 2000 season.

Mexican Drivers To Be A Focus - The raucous crowds will be following every move of native drivers Adrian Fernandez, Michel Jourdain Jr. and Mario Dominguez this weekend as the Mexican pilotos take center stage. Fernandez is set to return to the cockpit after missing Fontana with a neck injury, but even if he can not race, Mexican Luis Diaz is set to replace him in the Fernandez Racing machine.

CART Returns To Miami For Grand Finale - Championship Auto Racing Teams will return to Miami after the finish of Sunday's Grand Prix Americas to put a final cap on its 2002 season when it hosts the season-ending awards banquet on November 22nd at the Hotel Intercontinental. Plans for the future are set to be unveiled at the gathering where the series will fete its award winners.

Strong Sponsor Support - From series title sponsor FedEx, to CART Safety Team sponsor Simple Green and through the many strong sponsors that CART teams enjoy, CART sponsors count themselves among the largest companies in the world. Team sponsors Chevron, Shell, Pioneer, Motorola, Lilly, Target, Coors Brewing, KOOL, Quaker State, Visteon, Player's, Herdez, Tecate and Gigante are among the world's leading companies that come to battle every weekend in the CART FedEx Championship Series. Race sponsorship is also strong with companies such as Shell, Molson, Miller Brewing, Bridgestone, Tecate, Telmex, Visa, Honda, Toyota and Motorola lending their names to 2002 CART events.

CART Moves Ahead - Looking to maintain the diversity that has made its drivers some of the most versatile in the world of racing, CART has released its 2003 schedule, setting forth a 20-race docket that includes oval courses, superspeedways, temporary street courses and permanent road circuits that will force its drivers to be the most versatile in open-wheel racing. The season will begin and end in the United States for the first time since 2000 and features yet another new event in St. Petersburg, Florida to start the year.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Andre Lotterer , Darren Manning , Bruno Junqueira , Adrian Fernandez , Patrick Carpentier , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Kenny Brack , Luis Diaz , Mario Dominguez , Rick Mears , Bobby Unser , Dale Coyne , Cristiano da Matta , Michel Jourdain
Teams Dale Coyne Racing