JIMMY VASSER AND JUAN MONTOYA, TARGET/CHIP GANASSI RACING; PRE-RACE FACT SHEET/NEWS RELEASE: MILLER LITE 225 What: Miller Lite 225, round seven of CART's 20-race FedEx Championship Series. When: Sunday, June 6, 2 p.m. local time (broadcast...
JIMMY VASSER AND JUAN MONTOYA, TARGET/CHIP GANASSI RACING; PRE-RACE FACT SHEET/NEWS RELEASE: MILLER LITE 225
What: Miller Lite 225, round seven of CART's 20-race FedEx Championship Series.
When: Sunday, June 6, 2 p.m. local time (broadcast tape delayed on ABC-TV Sunday at 4 p.m. EDT). Practice -- Friday, June 4. Qualifying -- Saturday, June 5.
Where: The 1.032-mile oval at The Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wis.
History: Target/Chip Ganassi Racing's Jimmy Vasser won the 1998 Miller Lite 225, the second of six straight 1998 Team Target victories. Former Team Target driver Alex Zanardi finished eighth.
Fast Facts: * Team Target driver Juan Montoya is leading the PPG Cup points standing with 69 points. * Juan Montoya has won half (Long Beach, Nazareth and Rio) of the races in 1999. * Target/Chip Ganassi Racing has been on the podium in 27 of the last 33 races dating back to the 1997 race in Cleveland. * Jimmy Vasser has completed 57 of his last 64 races dating back to Cleveland in 1995. * Target/Chip Ganassi Racing is in pursuit of an unprecedented fourth straight CART championship. * Juan Montoya became the first rookie in CART history to win three straight races when he took the checkered flag at the May 15 Rio 200. * Target/Chip Ganassi Racing has won 26 races since the start of the 1996 season. The rest of the CART field has 32 victories in that span. * Jimmy Vasser was the runner-up in the 1998 PPG Cup championship, which was won by Team Target's Alex Zanardi. * Jimmy Vasser ranks 11th in the PPG Cup point standings with 21 points. * The team continues to donate $5,000 for each race win, $1,000 for each pole position and $25 for each lap led to Target House at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, a comfortable place for patients and their families to stay while the children receive treatment. During the 1997 season, the team raised $46,275 for Target House. Target matched the donation and awarded St. Jude Hospital a $100,000 check. In 1998, Team Target's success on the track resulted in a $71,875 donation to St. Jude. * Joining Montoya, Vasser and Ganassi in Memphis to celebrate the Target House grand opening on May 17 were golfer Tiger Woods, singer Amy Grant, figure skater Scott Hamilton and many others who helped make Target House a reality. * With Montoya's 36 laps led and pole position in St. Louis, Team Target raised $1,900 for Target House at the Motorola 300, bringing the 1999 season total to $25,475.
QUICK QUOTES: Jimmy Vasser, No. 12 Target Honda-Reynard: "When you're looking for a little momentum swing in the season, it helps to head to a track where you've had success in the past. I have some great memories from last year's Milwaukee race, and I'm aiming to make it two in a row. We had a good car in St. Louis, so I think a little Milwaukee magic might be just what we need to get back in the race for the PPG Cup. Like Nazareth, we're dealing with the new aerodynamic package, but it's the same for everyone, so we'll adapt to it and I expect a good race."
Juan Montoya, No. 4 Target Honda-Reynard: "Someone asked me if I'm getting sick of the ovals. No way, we're doing pretty good on them. Of course I'm looking forward to street courses, but I'm still learning a lot and I actually enjoy the ovals. I liked the Milwaukee track when we tested there. Races like we had in St. Louis are very rough on me. We did have success at the oval in Nazareth, so I think I'm ready for Milwaukee. I certainly plan on doing my best, and if not winning, earning some good points for the championship."
Q & A With Team Target Owner Chip Ganassi
WEST ALLIS, Wis. -- After winning three of the year's first six races, Target/Chip Ganassi Racing heads to Milwaukee Sunday, June 6, where the team is defending race winner (Jimmy Vasser won the 1998 Miller Lite 225). With nearly a third of the series complete, Chip Ganassi, owner of Target/Chip Ganassi Racing, offers his thoughts on a variety of topics.
Q. How do you rate your team's performance after the first six races? A. I'm happy with where we are at this point in the season. Obviously, our biggest surprise of the year, and the biggest surprise in the series, is our rookie (Juan Montoya). It's very rare that a rookie can come in and have this kind of impact on the series. We knew he was talented and more experienced than most 23-year-olds, but he's surpassed everyone's expectations. I'm disappointed by the bad luck Jimmy (Vasser) has had early on, but confident we'll see him on the podium soon. He's smart and knows it's a long season.
Q. What do you consider your team's strong point so far this season? A. Our strong point so far in 1999 is the same thing it's been the past few years - consistency. With the exception of Jimmy at Rio, the guys score points in every race and are usually challenging for the win right up to the finish line. That's how you win championships. I'm also happy with our improved qualifying. Believe it or not, Alex did not have a single pole position in 1998. Juan already has two. It makes it a lot easier to win when you start out up front.
Q. What is one thing you would like the team to improve upon throughout the year to increase the chances of earning a fourth consecutive PPG Cup championship? A. We've had a few mechanical problems this year, which is rare for us. Sometimes it's impossible to control those things. If it was possible to cut back on mechanical problems, I'd be a happy owner.
Q: Have you ever seen a rookie make such an impact on the CART series? A: I don't want to inflate Juan's ego, but I'm not sure if I've seen a more complete driver come into the series. From his first race in Miami, it was clear that he was going to win races this year.
Q: Has it been a challenge to keep Juan from getting over confident? A: Absolutely not. For a 23-year-old, Juan is very mature. He knows that the veterans don't like to see a rookie come in and dominate, so he realizes that everyone is gunning for him at every race. He's kept a very even head after his success. He's focused on learning and improving every time he's on the track.
Q: How much has Jimmy helped Juan adjust to the series? A: Quite a bit, I think. In addition to his knowledge of the car and the tracks, I think Jimmy's laid-back attitude has helped Juan. He won't get too upset if something goes wrong because he knows it's a long season. Jimmy approaches every race the same and never allows himself to look too far ahead. That has been helpful. He and Juan have a good relationship and they're very willing to share information. They both understand that we're a team.
Q. No CART team has ever claimed four straight titles, a feat you're trying to accomplish this year. Do you feel any added pressure? A. Not a bit. The pressure is on the other teams to try to stop us. Everyone on our team and every other team knows what our goal is for 1999. And every other team has the same goal. We'll see where we're at after the Fontana race on Oct. 31.