CHAMPCAR/CART: Monterey: Pre-race notes

WHO'S HOT * For CART FedEx Championship Series pilot Paul Tracy ( ...

WHO'S HOT

* For CART FedEx Championship Series pilot Paul Tracy (#26 KOOL Honda/Lola/Bridgestone), there was no mistaking it at last weekend at The Milwaukee Mile. Tracy led 184 of 250 laps to capture Sunday's Miller Lite 250 at Wisconsin State Fair Park. Tracy left the controversy of the previous Sunday's result at Indianapolis behind him as he scored his first CART FedEx Championship Series victory of the 2002 season and moved the Team KOOL Green driver into a third-place tie in the points with Max Papis (#22 ROCKWELL FIRST POINT Ford-Cosworth Lola/Bridgestone) at 32 points each.

* Michel Jourdain Jr. (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) of Team Rahal currently holds the CART FedEx Championship Series point lead for the first time in his Champ Car career, 42 to 35 over Dario Franchitti (#27 KOOL Honda/Lola/Bridgestone). Jourdain has finished inside the top five in all four rounds this season, including a fourth in Mexico and a string of three fifth-place finishes at Long Beach, Japan and Milwaukee. Jourdain has displayed amazing consistency thus far, completing 624 of a possible 626 laps.

* Max Papis (#22 ROCKWELL FIRST POINT Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) of Sigma Autosport charges into Round 5 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with momentum from a third-place finish after starting 17th in Milwaukee last weekend. Papis lived up to his nickname of "Mad Max" last year at Laguna Seca, as he marched though the grid with determination and established a new CART FedEx Championship Series record by coming from 25th to take the win, the furthest starting position for a race winner on a street or road course in series history.

* Fernandez Racing team owner/driver Adrian Fernandez (#51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) comes into this weekend having scored pole positions on both a road course and an oval already this year. The two poles in four CART FedEx Championship Series events is the most of any driver this season and Fernandez will be looking to build on a season-best second place finish at Milwaukee.

ON THE RIGHT TRACK

* Michael Andretti (#39 Motorola Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) of Team Motorola has enjoyed much success over the years at the picturesque Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Andretti has two Champ Car wins here (1991-92), both coming from the pole position. With 28 points, Andretti holds the sixth spot in the CART FedEx Championship Series point standings on the strength of his 42nd career win in Round 2 at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and a seventh-place finish at Milwaukee last weekend.

* Paul Tracy of Team KOOL Green has recorded two wins (1993-94) and a pole ('94) at Mazda Raceway in his Champ Car career. Other points-paying finishes for the Canadian at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca include second in 1995, eighth in '98 and fourth in '99.

* Another CART FedEx Championship Series driver who has displayed speed at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in the past is 1997 race winner Jimmy Vasser (#8 Shell Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) of Team Rahal who currently sits 11th in the CART FedEx Championship Series point standings.

* Cristiano da Matta (#6 Havoline Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) has been the most dominant CART FedEx Championship Series driver on the road courses and street circuits this season with 27 of his 29 points coming on the two disciplines. The Brazilian stands fifth in the championship battle and already has one road course victory under his belt this season in the Tecate Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix.

MANUFACTURING SUCCESS

* Toyota-powered drivers have won two of four CART FedEx Championship Series events contested this season, including wins in Mexico and Japan with Cristiano da Matta and Bruno Junqueira, respectively. Honda holds the rights to the remaining two victories at Long Beach and last weekend at Milwaukee with drivers Michael Andretti and Paul Tracy, respectively. Ford-Cosworth's last CART FedEx Championship Series victory came last year at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with Papis' spectacular dash from the back of the field.

* Lola Cars have won six of the past seven CART FedEx Championship Series events, dating to a victory by Max Papis in the Honda Grand Prix of Monterrey Featuring the Shell 300 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca last year. Also included in the run are three consecutive victories by Newman/Haas Racing driver Cristiano da Matta (Australia and Fontana, 2001; Monterrey, 2002), Bruno Junqueira in Japan and Paul Tracy most recently in Milwaukee. Reynard interrupted Lola's streak when Michael Andretti won at Long Beach in Round 2. Ironically enough, Andretti has since made the switch to the Lola chassis.

* Before Max Papis brought the win home for Lola last season, the Reynard chassis had been the dominant choice at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, winning the previous six events (1995-'00). Other Lola victories came in 1987, '91 and '92 before Reynard's late-'90s streak of victories.

NOTEWORTHY

* This Sunday's live broadcast of the Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey Featuring The Shell 300 (SPEED Channel, 4:30 p.m. ET) from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will be the third of 11CART FedEx Championship Series event to air on SPEED Channel this season. Live qualifying, CART Friday Night and pre-race for the CART FedEx Championship Series Round 5 race will all be broadcast on SPEED Channel as well.

* The CART FedEx Championship Series has produced four different winners in four rounds of competition this season. Cristiano da Matta scored his third consecutive Champ Car win dating back to last season in the Tecate Telmex Grand Prix of Monterrey, Michael Andretti took the checkered in the 28th annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Bruno Junqueira recorded a win in the Bridgestone Potenza 500 at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan and Paul Tracy dominated The Mile last week in Milwaukee. It is the third consecutive year that the CART FedEx Championship Series history has produced four different winners in the first four rounds.

* Sigma Autosport's Max Papis won Motorola's "Call of the Race Award" last Sunday at Milwaukee. Determined by a panel of three judges, the winner is awarded $3,000 cash based on a key decision resulting in the team's improvement in the race. The award is judged each race by motosports journalists Robin Miller and Jeremy Shaw, and one local media representative.

* The Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge continued last weekend at The Mile with Newman/Haas Racing's crew for driver Christian Fittipaldi (#11 Lilly Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) scoring the victory. The win earned the team 20 points toward the award and with that, put them ahead of Team Rahal's crew for CART FedEx Championship Series point leader Michel Jourdain Jr. (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) for the overall lead (48 to 39). The award recognizes the efforts of CART FedEx Championship Series pit crew members and is based on a team's total time for pit stops during a race. Just as speed translates into money on the track, being quick in the pits will earn one team the season-ending award of $50,000 from Craftsman.

ON THE AIR

* Extensive United States television coverage of the Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey Featuring the Shell 300 from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will air throughout the weekend on SPEED Channel. Live coverage of the first round of qualifying is set for 5:00 p.m. ET on Friday, June 7, with CART Friday Night hitting the airwaves a few hours later at 10:30 p.m. ET, and coverage of the final round of qualifying airs live at 4:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 8. Race day coverage is set to begin with a half-hour pre-race show beginning at 4:00 p.m., followed by the live broadcast of the Shell 300, the featured event of the Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey, beginning at 4:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, June 9. Live Timing & Scoring data as well as live audio broadcasts of each qualifying session as well as the race are also available on the official web site of the CART FedEx Championship Series, www.cart.com.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Bruno Junqueira , Max Papis , Adrian Fernandez , Christian Fittipaldi , Paul Tracy , Jeremy Shaw , Robin Miller , Cristiano da Matta , Michel Jourdain