WEST ALLIS, Wis., June 5, 2000 - Juan Montoya of Target Chip Ganassi Racing brought Toyota the first FedEx Championship Series win in its five-year history Monday when he drove to victory in the rain-delayed Miller Lite 225 at The Milwaukee ...
WEST ALLIS, Wis., June 5, 2000 - Juan Montoya of Target Chip Ganassi Racing brought Toyota the first FedEx Championship Series win in its five-year history Monday when he drove to victory in the rain-delayed Miller Lite 225 at The Milwaukee Mile.
Barely a week after his dominant performance en route to victory in the Indianapolis 500, Montoya (Target Toyota Lola) was strong again on the 1.032-mile oval at the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds as he led a race-high 179 laps and became the first winner from the pole this season.
He also became the sixth winner in as many FedEx Championship Series events as he averaged a race-record 142.684 miles per hour while finishing 1.015 seconds ahead of Michael Andretti of Newman/Haas Racing.
Montoya's victory, his first since last year at Vancouver, was the eighth of his career and first for a Toyota-powered driver since the engine manufacturer entered the FedEx Championship Series competition at the start of the 1996 season.
Toyota's previous best finish was a runner-up effort by Jimmy Vasser, his Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, in the April 30 Rio 200 at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Montoya, the defending FedEx Championship Series champion, completed a perfect weekend with a 22-point sweep for the victory, the pole and leading the most laps, doubling his point total to 44 for the season. The total ties him with Andretti for fourth place in the championship.
Andretti's (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola) runner-up effort continued an outstanding record of success at Milwaukee that includes five victories (1986, '87, '91, '92 and '96). The second-place finish was also Andretti's second podium in three events -- including a victory last month at Japan -- the 86th podium result of his career and his ninth podium in 16 career starts at The Milwaukee Mile.
Third place went to Patrick Carpentier (Player's Forsythe Racing Team Ford Reynard) of Player's Forsythe Racing, who scored the third podium finish of his FedEx Championship Series career and his best effort since a runner-up effort at Vancouver last year.
After finishing no better than 19th in his first three starts of the season, Montoya has posted top-seven finishes in each of his past three starts, leading a combined 461 of a possible 651 laps. That does not include the 167 laps he led en route to victory in last Sunday's 84th Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Rookie Kenny Brack (Shell Ford Reynard) of Team Rahal finished fourth, continuing a run that has seen him record three consecutive top-five finishes, following fifth at Japan and a season-best third at Nazareth. Roberto Moreno (Visteon Ford Reynard) of Patrick Racing rounded out the top five finishers with his fifth top-10 effort in six starts this season, an effort which moved him into sole possession of second place in the championship.
FedEx Championship Series points leader Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard) finished 15th, his first non-scoring performance of the season. Even so, he holds a 59-52 lead over Moreno heading into Round 7, the June 18 Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit at The Raceway on Belle Isle. Vasser, who finished 13th Monday, stands third with 48 points, followed by Andretti and Montoya with 44 each.
An estimated crowd of 25,000 returned one day following the third weather-related delay of the FedEx Championship Series season to witness Montoya's drive to victory.
JUAN MONTOYA, Target Toyota Lola: "I'm really happy. We've been very unlucky in the last few races. I think it was very good to win for Toyota and Target. I'm really glad to win for Toyota, because they've worked so hard. There's so many people working hard for Toyota and we should have won before now. We had the speed all year, but we finally got to the end. There's 14 races left and last year I had a huge lead, and then going into the last race I was actually behind. We need to make consistent points and we'll see what happens. The win had to come sooner or later. We were leading more than 50 percent of the laps. Today, we finally did it."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI, Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola: "It was a good day. My car was half-decent, not perfect. All the passing for me was done at the start and in the pits. The Kmart/Texaco/Havoline crew did a great job in the pits all day. I was actually able to pass Juan in the pits, but he got me back in traffic. With about five laps to go he got caught in traffic and I was driving as fast as I could, but I just ran out of laps. If there were ten laps to go, it would have been interesting." [On the fans coming out on Monday] "I was impressed big time. It looked like there were almost as many people here today as there were yesterday. I think that was very impressive. We have some real loyal CART fans here in Milwaukee."
PATRICK CARPENTIER, Player's Forsythe Racing Team Ford Reynard: "I'm very happy. Player's did a great job today. At the end my car was a bit loose and I couldn't push hard. Early on, I think we were running about the same speed as Juan. I was just trying to keep up with him, but the car got loose later on. But we've got a good package and I look forward to being up here a lot more this year."
* With Juan Montoya's (Target Toyota Lola) victory Monday, the FedEx Championship Series has now seen six different winners in its first six events of the season, tying a record established in 1991. This year's winners, in order, are Max Papis (Miller Lite Ford Reynard) at Homestead; Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard) at Long Beach, Adrian Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford Reynard) at Rio de Janeiro; Michael Andretti (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola) at Japan and Gil de Ferran (Marlboro Honda Reynard) at Nazareth.
* Though Monday marked Juan Montoya's (Target Toyota Lola) first victory of the season, he has been the dominant driver in each of the past three FedEx Championship Series events. Montoya has led 461 of a possible 651 laps (70 percent) during that three-event stretch, including 172 of 201 at Japan and 110 of 225 at Nazareth in addition to 179 of 225 Monday.
* Montoya's victory for the Toyota RV8E marks the first victory for a U.S.-designed and built engine since Mike Mosley won at The Milwaukee Mile in a Gurney Eagle-Chevrolet on June 7, 1981. The Toyota RV8E was designed, built and developed at Toyota Racing Development in Costa Mesa, Calif.
* Montoya became the ninth driver to follow a victory in the Indianapolis 500 with a triumph at The Milwaukee Mile. The last was Al Unser Jr. in 1994.
* Kenny Brack (Shell Ford Reynard) of Team Rahal picked up the Budweiser Hard Charger Award for showing the most improvement in the 23-driver field. Brack improved 12 places from his 16th starting position to finish fourth.
* Team Rahal owner Bobby Rahal paid tribute to the fans who turned out Monday to witness the rain-delayed Miller Lite 225. "How about that crowd today?" Rahal asked. "That says a lot for the Milwaukee fans. To come to our race on a Monday afternoon is just fantastic. I have always thought that Milwaukee had some of the best fans on the CART series. I think they proved it today."
* CART President and CEO Andrew Craig refuted news reports Monday that negotiations are taking place with IMG, promoter of the Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit, concerning a buyout the final year of CART's contract with the promoter, which comes in 2001. "Reports of discussions of a buyout of the remainder of the contract for the Detroit Grand Prix are entirely false," Craig stated emphatically. "CART has a contract with IMG for the years 2000 and 2001. A buyout has never been discussed with IMG." The Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit is the next round of the FedEx Championship Series championship, scheduled for June 18 at The Raceway on Belle Isle.
* The first of three CART Open Tests scheduled for the 2000 season begins Wednesday and continues through Thursday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. On track activity is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. and 1:45 to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, and from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 5 p.m. on Thursday. Mid-Ohio hosts Round 13 of the FedEx Championship Series, the Miller Lite 200, Aug. 11-13. Additional Open Tests are scheduled at Chicago Motor Speedway, July 6-7 and at Laguna Seca Raceway, Aug. 24-25.
The FedEx Championship Series continues with Round Seven, the Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit on Sunday, June 18, at The Raceway on Belle Isle.