Tecate Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix Date: March 11, 2002 Broadcast: SPEED Channel, 4 p.m. ET Race Length: 78 laps Track Length: 2.1-mile, 12-turn road course 2001 Winner: Cristiano da Matta Toyota's Best Finish: 1st - Cristiano da Matta ...
Tecate Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix
Date: March 11, 2002
Broadcast: SPEED Channel, 4 p.m. ET
Race Length: 78 laps
Track Length: 2.1-mile, 12-turn road course
2001 Winner: Cristiano da Matta
Toyota's Best Finish: 1st - Cristiano da Matta (2001)
Toyota's Best Qualifying: 2nd - Cristiano da Matta (2001)
Track Speed Records:
Qualifying: 100.665 mph - Kenny Bräck (2001)
Race: 81.548 mph - C. da Matta (2001)
WHAT TO LOOK FOR AT MONTERREY:
TOYOTA, DA MATTA EYE MONTERREY REPEAT - After winning the inaugural event in Monterrey, Mexico, last season, Cristiano da Matta (Havoline Toyota) and Toyota will be looking to repeat that feat in 2002. Da Matta led 32 of 78 laps last year on the way to the victory. The win was the second of da Matta's career and his first road-course triumph. He went on to win two more races during the season.
Coincidentally, the two drivers that gave da Matta the biggest challenge last year also will be in the Toyota camp for this year's event. Kenny Bräck (Target Toyota) and Scott Dixon (PWR Toyota) led 28 and 14 laps, respectively, in the 2001 Monterrey Grand Prix. In Bräck's case, he led the first 23 laps from the pole and was leading on Lap 43 when da Matta passed him for the lead.
CART'S THREE MOST SUCCESSFUL TEAMS ALL TO CAMPAIGN TOYOTAS - CART's three most- successful active teams will all campaign with Toyota power in 2002. Newman/Haas Racing is CART's top active winner with 61 CART victories. Target Chip Ganassi Racing is second with 44, while Patrick Racing is third with 27 triumphs. Each was victorious with Toyota power a year ago. Target Chip Ganassi Racing is the leader among wins by Toyota-powered cars with five.
ROOKIE BELL EYES FIRST CHAMP CAR ROAD COURSE - Rookie Townsend Bell will be making his first Champ Car road-course start in Monterrey. The 2001 Indy Lights champ made two starts with Patrick Racing last season on ovals in Germany and England, earning his first Champ Car points in England. Bell, who dominated the Indy Lights championship a year ago with six victories, is looking to become the second consecutive Toyota driver to win CART Rookie of the Year honors after fellow Toyota pilot Scott Dixon took first-year honors in 2001.
PACKING UP - When the Toyota trucks arrive in Monterrey for the season-opener, they will certainly be well-stocked as TRD will ship approximately 40 engines from its California base for use by the eight Toyota-powered entries in Sunday's Tecate Telmex Grand Prix.
GROOMED FOR SUCCESS - If the Toyota Champ Car ranks are any indication, the CART ladder series' have been an overwhelming success. The last four Indy Lights champions - Townsend Bell (2001), Scott Dixon (2000), Oriol Servia (1999) and Cristiano da Matta (1998) - will be behind the wheel of Toyota Champ Cars in 2002. The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship - which has turned out the likes of Michael Andretti, Jimmy Vasser, Jacques Villeneuve and Patrick Carpentier - takes over as the exclusive stepping-stone series to the CART Champ Car ranks in 2002. <pre> 2002 TOYOTA CHAMP CAR LINE-UP No. Driver Car Team #4 Bruno Junqueira Target Toyota Target Chip Ganassi Racing #5 Tora Takagi Pioneer Electronics Toyota Walker Racing #6 Cristiano da Matta Havoline Toyota Newman/Haas Racing #7 Scott Dixon PWR Toyota PWR Championship Racing #11 Christian Fittipaldi Newman/Haas Toyota Newman/Haas Racing #12 Kenny Bräck Target Toyota Target Chip Ganassi Racing #17 Oriol Servia PWR Toyota PWR Championship Racing #20 Townsend Bell Visteon Toyota Patrick Racing
Jim Aust, Toyota vice president of motorsports: "Toyota has strengthened its line-up immensely during the off-season. We have a great blend between five past CART winners and our immensely talented rookie. We truly believe that any of the eight Toyota-powered cars can win on any given day. Of course, we're going to need production from each and every one of them as it appears this year's FedEx Championship will probably be more competitive than at any time in the series history."
Christian Fittipaldi, #11 Newman/Haas Toyota: "We have more depth this year in our already strong engineering department, and the crew is as motivated as ever even after many late nights in preparation. We're all ready for this season to start. Right now, everyone can be the 2002 CART FedEx Champion. If we can be consistent in the first half of the season, we can be a contender at the end of the year."
Townsend Bell, #20 Visteon Toyota: "I have learned a lot during the preseason. The Visteon/Patrick Racing team has made a big effort to help me make the adjustment to Champ Cars. Based on our preseason-testing program, I think we have a very good setup for Monterrey and the Toyota engine has been both reliable and powerful. I'm confident heading into the start of the 2002 FedEx Championship Series season."