CHAMPCAR/CART: Molson Indy Toronto Preview

DETROIT (July 14, 1999) - There is no denying that Target/Chip Ganassi Racing has been the dominant team in the FedEx Championship Series in the latter part of this decade. Target/Ganassi has won three consecutive series ...

DETROIT (July 14, 1999) - There is no denying that Target/Chip Ganassi Racing has been the dominant team in the FedEx Championship Series in the latter part of this decade. Target/Ganassi has won three consecutive series championships and, thanks to rookie marvel and PPG Cup points leader Juan Montoya, is positioned for an unprecedented fourth title this season. But halfway through the current campaign, Newman/Haas Racing is mounting a challenge to Target/Chip Ganassi Racing's throne. As the series heads to Toronto for its first of two 1999 stops on Canadian soil, Sunday's Molson Indy (3 p.m. ET, one-hour tape delay, ABC-TV), Newman/Haas has two of the series' hottest drivers, and a performance record at Toronto on which to build, in its bid to unseat the three-time champions. Veteran Michael Andretti (Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Swift) continues to spearhead the Newman/Haas effort. His runner-up finish in Sunday's Texaco/Havoline 200 at Road America moved him into second in the championship with 95 points, 18 behind series leader Montoya. Andretti, who owns top-10 finishes in all four FedEx Championship Series road or street course events to date, is also a five-time winner at Toronto with victories in 1989, '91, '92, '94 and '95. He has finished fifth or better in 10 of 12 career starts at the venue and has qualified among the top 10 drivers for all 12 appearances. Christian Fittipaldi (Big Kmart Ford Swift), Andretti's teammate, comes to Toronto off the first victory of his five-year FedEx Championship Series career last week at Road America. The 20 PPG Cup points he collected for that triumph moved him to fifth in the championship, with 82 points. Fittipaldi has also scored PPG Cup points in three of four career starts at Toronto and in a series-high nine of 10 events this season. Andretti and Fittipaldi are just two of six drivers who are grouped within striking distance of Montoya's lead. The list also includes Gil de Ferran (Valvoline/Cummins Special Honda Reynard), third with 87 points; Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard), fourth with 85; Greg Moore (Player's Forsythe Racing Ltd. Mercedes Reynard), sixth with 81 and Adrian Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford Reynard), seventh with 79. All told, 16 points separate the second through seventh-place drivers in the championship. Fernandez and Andretti are two of four previous Toronto event winners in this weekend's field. The others are Al Unser Jr. (Marlboro Mercedes Lola), who won in 1988 and '90, and Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard), who won in 1993. Mark Blundell (Motorola PacWest Mercedes), who won at Toronto in 1997, will miss this weekend's event while continuing his recovery from a small fracture of the seventh cervical vertebra sustained in a May 4 testing accident at Gateway International Raceway. For the seventh consecutive event, he will be replaced by Roberto Moreno. Unser Jr., meanwhile, is in line to set the CART record for career starts by taking the green flag Sunday. It would mark the 265th start of his 18-year career, breaking a tie with Bobby Rahal.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Adrian Fernandez , Roberto Moreno , Bobby Rahal , Christian Fittipaldi , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Mark Blundell , Chip Ganassi , Greg Moore
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing