Eyes On The Prize Milwaukee, WI (May 27, 1998) -- Greg Moore's victory in the 1997 Miller 200 at The Milwaukee Mile made him the youngest race winner in FedEx Championship Series history. Two-thirds of this year's schedule still remains, but as...
Eyes On The Prize
Milwaukee, WI (May 27, 1998) -- Greg Moore's victory in the 1997 Miller 200 at The Milwaukee Mile made him the youngest race winner in FedEx Championship Series history. Two-thirds of this year's schedule still remains, but as Moore returns to Milwaukee one year later for Sunday's Miller Lite 200 (1:30 p.m. ET, live, ESPN), he finds himself in position to become the youngest champion in CART history.
Moore (Player's/Indeck Reynard Mercedes) was 22 years, one month and 10 days old when he edged Michael Andretti to score his first CART career victory at Milwaukee last year. This year, Moore has blended consistency with the spectacular en route to second place in the PPG Cup standings with 85 points, two behind defending series champion Alex Zanardi (Target Reynard Honda), who has 87.
Jacques Villeneuve currently holds the distinction of being CART's youngest champion. He was 24 years, five months and one day old when he earned the title at Laguna Seca in 1995.
Moore is the only driver in the series to have completed every lap (1,050) and every mile (1,462.401) of competition this season. He has finished in the top six of every event, including a victory at Rio de Janeiro when he made a daring, Turn 1 pass of then-leader Zanardi with four laps remaining. One race earlier, Moore took the PPG Cup lead for the first time in his career following a third-place finish at Nazareth.
Now, Moore looks to Milwaukee, where he owns two top-five finishes in as many starts, to provide the springboard back into the PPG Cup lead which Zanardi took away with his victory in last Saturday's Motorola 300 at Gateway International Raceway. Zanardi owns back-to-back 13th-place finishes in his two career appearances at The Mile.
"There are a lot of great memories associated with this storied race track," says Moore, who also scored an Indy Lights victory at Milwaukee in 1995, "since it was here that I captured the checkered flag for the first time after a great battle with Michael Andretti to become the youngest winner in CART history."
Speaking of Andretti (Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Swift Ford), he comes to Milwaukee with considerable momentum, having finished second at Gateway for his first podium performance since winning at Homestead in the season opener. That effort moved Andretti into fifth place in the PPG Cup championship, and he looks to gain even more ground as CART's career victory leader at Milwaukee, with five (1986, '87, '91, '92 and '96).
Moore and Andretti are two of four former Milwaukee winners in the field for Sunday's 200-lap seventh round of the FedEx Championship Series. The others are Al Unser Jr. (Marlboro Penske Mercedes), who won at Milwaukee in 1990 and '94, and Paul Tracy (KOOL Reynard Honda), who won in '95 and has been the polesitter at Milwaukee for each of the past two events.
Jimmy Vasser (Target Reynard Honda) rounded out the podium last year at Milwaukee, finishing third to Moore and Andretti. Vasser, who stands fourth in the championship with 51 points, has finished eighth or better in each of the past five events and has scored PPG Cup points in 43 of his past 50 starts, dating to 1995 at Milwaukee.
Adrian Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Labatt Reynard Ford), third in the championship race, collected four top-six finishes in the first six events, but has failed to score in two of his past three starts, allowing both Vasser and Andretti to close ground on his 55-point total. Gil de Ferran (Valvoline/Cummins Special Reynard Honda) owns top-nine finishes in all three of his career starts at Milwaukee.
After a tough-luck opening of his final campaign as a driver, Bobby Rahal (Miller Lite Reynard Ford) has finished eighth or better in each of his past three starts. Team Rahal teammate Bryan Herta (Shell Reynard Ford) had a streak of three consecutive eighth-or-better finishes snapped at Gateway, where he finished 23rd due to handling problems.
Christian Fittipaldi (Kmart Swift Ford) has enjoyed substantial success in limited competition at Milwaukee, with finishes of seventh in 1995 and sixth in '96, as well as a third-place start in '96. Scott Pruett (Visteon Reynard Ford) has scored PPG Cup points in five of six appearances at Milwaukee, and comes off a fifth-place finish at Gateway, matching a season best.
Robby Gordon (Panasonic/Duskin Reynard Toyota) posted the best FedEx Championship Series finish ever for the Toyota engine (seventh) on the one-mile oval at Nazareth Speedway last month. Andre Ribeiro (Marlboro Penske Mercedes) looks to recapture the success which has enabled him to score all three of his career victories on ovals.
Mark Blundell (Motorola PacWest Mercedes) has scored PPG Cup points in five of six events this season, but looks to improve on his season-best of seventh. Teammate Mauricio Gugelmin (Hollywood PacWest Mercedes) sat on the outside pole at Milwaukee last year and finished fifth, his best effort in four starts at Milwaukee.
Among the rookies, Tony Kanaan (LCI Reynard Honda) has started third in each of the past two events, but has been unable to parlay those lofty starts into points-paying finishes. Still, he leads the Rookie of the Year race with 22 points.
Rookies Helio Castro-Neves (Alumax Aluminum Reynard Mercedes) and JJ Lehto (Hogan Motor Leasing, Inc. Reynard Mercedes) come off career-best finishes at Gateway of seventh and ninth, respectively. The fourth member of this year's rookie class, Alex Barron (Castrol-Degree Reynard Toyota) has three consecutive top-15 finishes, dating to Long Beach.
Last year's Rookie of the Year award winner, Patrick Carpentier (Player's/Indeck Reynard Mercedes), qualified fourth and finished eighth at Milwaukee last year. He won his first career pole position on the mile oval at Nazareth this year. Dario Franchitti (KOOL Reynard Honda) has followed a strong start with three consecutive scoreless finishes, although he did score a pole at Rio de Janeiro.
PJ Jones (Castrol-Degree Reynard Toyota) and Michel Jourdain Jr. (Herdez/Viva Mexico! Reynard Ford) make their third CART career starts at Milwaukee while Richie Hearn (Budweiser/Ralphs Swift Ford) and Max Papis (MCI Reynard Toyota) make their second.
Arnd Meier (BAAN Business Software/Total Tel Lola Ford) and Dennis Vitolo (SmithKline Beecham Reynard Ford) join the rookies in making their first career appearances on the Milwaukee oval.
Miller Lite 200 pole qualifying will air 6 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN2. CART 2Day, airs 1 p.m. ET Sunday, on ESPN2, one-half hour prior to ESPN's live race broadcast.
The FedEx Championship Series continues with its third event in as many weeks, the ITT Automotive Detroit Grand Prix, Sunday, June 7 from the Raceway on Belle Isle.
Source: CART Online