CHAMPCAR/CART: Milwaukee: Event preview

2002 CART FedEx Championship Series gets back underway with Miller Lite 250 at Historic Milwaukee Mile. INDIANAPOLIS (May 28, 2002) - Championship Auto Racing Teams will head to one of the most venerable tracks in not only the CART FedEx ...

2002 CART FedEx Championship Series gets back underway with Miller Lite 250 at Historic Milwaukee Mile.

INDIANAPOLIS (May 28, 2002) - Championship Auto Racing Teams will head to one of the most venerable tracks in not only the CART FedEx Championship Series, but in all of North America Sunday as it resumes its season with a trip to the Milwaukee Mile.

The historic oval, on the site of the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds, will play host to the Miller Lite 250 this weekend as the 1.032-mile again opens its doors to one of the most challenging races on the schedule. The track, which first started hosting championship open-wheel racing in 1933, due to its blend of close action and high speeds and its layout lends itself to lap times rarely seen on a mile oval.

Patrick Carpentier (#32 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) holds the track single-lap record at 185.500 mph, a speed that usually serves as a benchmark for top-end power at most one-mile tracks. Since the finest drivers in the world are circling the Milwaukee track at just over 20 seconds per lap, the track has proven not to be for the faint of heart over the years.

The list of winners at Milwaukee reads like a list of the series' most aggressive drivers as the blazingly-fast track usually does not reward those that employ a conservative strategy. Michael Andretti (#39 Motorola Honda/Lola/Bridgestone), Indianapolis 500 runner-up Paul Tracy (#26 KOOL Honda/Lola/Bridgestone), Kenny Brack (#12 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) and Jimmy Vasser (#8 Shell Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) are the only current Champ Car drivers to have earned wins at Milwaukee, Andretti leading all active drivers with five wins on the Fairgrounds oval while Tracy is the only other active pilot to have won more than once.

Brack earned his first Milwaukee win last season by besting the track master, as he completed a day that saw him lead 130 laps by passing Andretti coming out of Turn Two with 42 circuits remaining, giving him a lead he would not relinquish. The win allowed Brack to widen his points lead as the four drivers pursuing him most closely at the time all had problems that kept them out of the points. Andretti would come home in second place and fail to move closer to Rodger Ward's all-time Milwaukee record of seven race wins while rookie Scott Dixon (#7 PWR Championship Racing Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) took his second career podium with a third-place run.

The 2002 season will bring more of that excitement to Milwaukee as the CART drivers are champing at the bit to get back in their cars after taking the month of May off to compete at Indianapolis. The first three races of the season have provided three different winners and created a title chase so tight that no fewer than 12 drivers could emerge from this weekend with a share of the championship lead.

The driver they all continue to chase is Dario Franchitti (#27 KOOL Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) who leads the loop with 34 points despite not having won a race yet this season. He does have a pair of podiums to his credit this season and carries a two-point lead over Michel Jourdain Jr. (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), the driver that is the biggest success story of the young season.

Jourdain is the only driver to have finished in the top five of every event this season and has already scored more points in his first three races with Team Rahal (32) than he has in any previous full season - although he will face a difficult challenge this weekend as he has never scored a single point at Milwaukee in six previous starts.

Bruno Junqueira (#4 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) will look to keep his successful streak going as the young Brazilian is coming off not only a win at Motegi, but a pole position at the Indianapolis 500 and is coming back to Milwaukee after a fourth-place finish last year that was the best of his CART career to that point. The Motegi win propelled him to fifth in the points with 23, moving him one point ahead of Long Beach winner Andretti.

Cristiano da Matta (#6 Havoline Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) will be looking for his first oval points of the season and will need to find something if he is to maintain his third-place standing in the points. The team has put in the extra effort required to do well at the speedy oval, running a test session there during the month of May, and is hoping to give da Matta his first top-10 Milwaukee finish.

Tracy is one of the few drivers that can not walk out of Milwaukee with a share of the points, but he knows his way around the Wisconsin track, having taken wins there in 1995 and '99. The Team KOOL Green driver of the also has a pair of poles to his credit on the mile oval but has not scored a championship point there since his 1999 victory.

Vasser also has a Milwaukee win to his credit and is looking to recapture his old form that saw him score points in each of his first seven visits to the oval. That streak contained a 1998 win while with Ganassi, but the last two years have seen him leave Milwaukee scoreless.

Herdez Competition's Mario Dominguez (#16 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) will be looking to extend his lead in the Jim Trueman Rookie of the Year Award standings at the Milwaukee oval, hoping to continue his Indy Lights success at the Wisconsin track that saw him earn podium finishers in each of the last two seasons.

Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (NYSE: MPH) owns, operates and markets the CART FedEx Championship Series. Former series champions Michael Andretti and Jimmy Vasser are among the stars who will battle for the 2002 FedEx Championship Series title on ovals, temporary street circuits and permanent road courses. CART Champ Cars are thoroughbred racing machines that travel at speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour, showcasing the technical expertise of manufacturers such as American Honda, Ford Motor Company, Toyota, Lola Cars, Reynard Motorsport and Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire, LLC. The 20-race 2002 CART FedEx Championship Series will be broadcast by new television partners, CBS, FOX and SPEED Channel. CART also owns and operates its top development series, the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship. Learn more about CART's open-wheel racing series at www.CART.com.

--CART--

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Bruno Junqueira , Patrick Carpentier , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Kenny Brack , Mario Dominguez , Rodger Ward , Cristiano da Matta , Michel Jourdain