CHAMPCAR/CART: Montreal: Notes of interest

WHO'S HOT · With 143 championship points and six wins to his credit already this season, Brazilian Cristiano da Matta ( ...

WHO'S HOT

· With 143 championship points and six wins to his credit already this season, Brazilian Cristiano da Matta (#6 Havoline Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) of Newman/Haas Racing heads into this weekend's inaugural CART FedEx Championship Series Molson Indy Montreal as the series points leader. Da Matta ended a mid-season, three-race slump last Sunday at the Grand Prix at Road America Featuring the Motorola 220 after scoring the provisional pole and outrunning Canadian Alex Tagliani (#33 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) by 0.805 seconds for the win in a 21-point weekend performance. He is the leader in laps led with 491 out of a possible 1,552 (32%) and has led at least one lap at every road-course event this season.

· Alex Tagliani of Player's/Forsythe Racing matched a career best Champ Car finish in Elkhart Lake after finishing in the runner up position for the second time this season (Japan). The Canadian charges into Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve on momentum built at Road America where he jumped from 10th to a sixth-place tie in the points with Michel Jourdain Jr. (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola Bridgestone) at 80.

· After an informational on-course question and answer session with CART Steward Chris Kneifel last Wednesday at Road America, rookie Mario Dominguez (#55 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola Bridgestone) of Herdez Competition earned his best-ever Champ Car finish by taking the eighth spot. The Mexican driver started 17th on the grid and earned five championship points for his run on the mammoth 4.048-mile permanent road course.

· Bruno Junqueira (#4 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) of Target Chip Ganassi Racing scored his second pole of the season, running the fastest lap of the weekend at Elkhart Lake to that point in the final round of qualifying. But the Brazilian driver wasn't finished there. Junqueira, who expressed his fondness of the course throughout the weekend, bested that fast lap time in the pursuit of eventual race winner da Matta on the penultimate lap of the race. Junqueira heads into Montreal tied for second in points at 101 with Canadian Patrick Carpentier (#32 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth Reynard/Bridgestone) of Player's/Forsythe Racing.

· Canadian Paul Tracy (#26 KOOL Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) of Team KOOL Green led the most (24) laps at Road America and earned a championship point for his effort. But after a spirited drive that saw him go from fourth to first on the opening lap, Tracy would retire after contact with Kenny Brack (#12 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) of Target Chip Ganassi Racing on Lap 40 of the 60-lap race. Tracy stands ninth in points with 69.

· Michel Jourdain Jr. of Team Rahal continued his 2002 march of consistency at Road America with a ninth place finish after starting 16th. Jourdain has finished inside the top 10 in 11 of 12 rounds this season and is the only driver in the series to have scored points in every race. Jourdain is also the leader in laps completed, having ran 1,544 out of 1,552 thus far (846 road and 698 oval).

· Tony Kanaan (#10 Pioneer/WorldCom Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) of Mo Nunn Racing had to be the feel-good story of the weekend at Road America. Kanaan, who has struggled the majority of the 2002 season, just missed out on a podium spot with a fourth-place finish after experiencing mechanical difficulties in qualifying which left him dead last on the starting grid. The finish was the second top five in the last three races and boosted him four spots to 13th in the season standings with 43 points.

· Jimmy Vasser (#8 Shell Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) of Team Rahal finished fifth at Road America and earned his best placing since shadowing Michael Andretti (#39 Motorola Honda Lola/Bridgestone) of Team Motorola to the checkered flag for second at Long Beach in Round 2. Vasser is 12th in points with 57 entering Round 13 in Montreal.

ON THE RIGHT TRACK

· Although the CART FedEx Championship Series has never brought its turbocharged, 800-plus horsepower Champ Cars to the 2.747-mile Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve which annually entertains Formula 1, be very aware of the three drivers competing on their native soil in this Sunday's Molson Indy Montreal. Canadians Patrick Carpentier, Alex Tagliani and Paul Tracy will all be focused and more than determined to leave their mark and make history in this inaugural event.

MANUFACTURING SUCCESS

· Toyota was the powerplant of choice at Road America last weekend, giving championship points to Cristiano da Matta and Bruno Junqueira for pacing provisional and final qualifying sessions, respectively. After sending da Matta to the winner's circle at Elkhart Lake, Toyota-powered drivers have now won seven of 12 CART FedEx Championship Series events contested this season (Cristiano da Matta, 6 and Bruno Junqueira, 1). Honda has three wins with (Michael Andretti, 1, Paul Tracy, 1 and Dario Franchitti, 1) followed by Ford-Cosworth thanks to Patrick Carpentier's two Ohio triumphs. The hunt for the Manufacturer's Championship has Toyota (208) leading over Honda (182) and Ford-Cosworth (164).

· Lola has won 9 of 12 CART FedEx Championship Series events this season, including wins by Cristiano da Matta (6), Bruno Junqueira, Paul Tracy and Dario Franchitti. Reynard took trips to victory circle in the remaining three races this season in the hands of Patrick Carpentier (2) and Michael Andretti. Lola leads 247 to 163 in the Constructor's Championship.

NOTEWORTHY

· Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve: A History Lesson...Born in Berthierville, Quebec, on January 18, 1950, Gilles Villeneuve was the first Canadian hired as an official team driver in Formula 1 auto racing. Following his success in snowmobile racing in the early 70's, he switched to Formula Atlantic car racing and dominated this class in the middle of the decade. On July 17, 1977, he started his first Formula 1 Grand Prix on board a Ford-powered McLaren, at the Silverstone race track in England. Later that same year, Gilles took part in two other Grand Prix races (in Canada and Japan) driving a Ferrari, the team for which he raced the remainder of his career. From 1978 to 1982, Villeneuve entered 64 races for Ferrari and won 6 times. His first career win was the 1978 Canadian Grand Prix, on the Island of Notre-Dame track in Montréal. In each of his appearances at the Canadian Grand Prix, between 1978 and 1981, he electrified the Canadian fans and earned points by finishing 1st, 2nd, 5th and 3rd. In May, 1982, Villeneuve died during a practice session for the Belgian Grand Prix, on the Zolder racetrack. A few weeks later, before the presentation of the 1982 Grand Prix, the City of Montréal Executive Committee adopted a resolution to rename the Island Notre-Dame track Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve to honor the memory of the late and great racer.

· Montreal native Alex Tagliani of Player's/Forsythe Racing has recorded points-paying finishes in his last eight consecutive races, the longest stretch of his three-year Champ Car career.

· Shinji Nakano (#52 Alpine/Mitsuba Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) of Fernandez Racing has also scored eight-straight points-paying finishes, matching the best run of his career. This weekend Nakano will make his 50th career Champ Car start and returns to the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve where he scored his best-ever Formula 1 finish, a sixth place effort in 1997.

· CART FedEx Championship Series drivers Paul Tracy and Alex Tagliani will be on hand Wednesday, August 21st to assist in the opening of the new Future Shop, one of Canada's largest electronic stores. The Future Shop will be one of the biggest stores of its kind in Montreal, located in the Pepsi Forum in downtown Montreal where the Montreal Canadiens formerly played their NHL hockey games. CART Toyota Atlantic Championship drivers Michael Valiante, Jonathan Macri, Marc DeVellis, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Joey Hand are set to sign autographs from 6:00 - 7:00 p.m., followed by Tracy and Tagliani from 7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

· The Molson Indy Montreal event press conference is slated for Thursday, August 22nd located on Ste. Denis St. at the corner of Ontario St. on an outdoor stage. CART FedEx Championship Series driver are scheduled to attend, along with Canadian CART Toyota Atlantic Championship drivers Michael Valiante and Stephan C. Roy. Ste. Denis St. will be the place to be during the Molson Indy Montreal, as the street closes down for Champ Car weekend festivities Wednesday to Sunday.

· Design, Comfort and High Performance: Tagliani Introduces a Clothing Line That Befits His Image...Auto racing has always been a family affair for Alex Tagliani, and the same is true of the TAG 00033 clothing line that will be officially launched 7:00 p.m. this Friday at a fashion show presented by Saputo in conjunction with Molson Dry Night at Montreal's Medley bar. Tagliani enlisted his sister Karen - a graduate of the fashion design program at the Université du Québec à Montréal - to create a collection whose pure and elegant lines strike a perfect balance between top-notch design and high performance. The TAG 00033 clothing line, which also has a number of accessory products, has been designed for men and women in the 18-35-year-old age group. The clothing will be available in eight Sports Experts stores throughout Quebec, as well as at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve and at a kiosk on Saint-Denis Street during the weekend of the Molson Indy Montreal. Concept Harmonie Inc., a Quebec company, is overseeing the design, production and marketing of the TAG 00033 collection. The clothes have been designed using the latest fabric developments and such technological advancements as Dry-Fit® and Hydro-Move®. These innovations prevent the build up of bacteria and neutralize perspiration odours, along with providing a total comfort that gives one the feel of having a second layer of skin..."Like auto racing, fashion designing is a very select field, and it is extremely competitive," remarked Tagliani. "My family made plenty of sacrifices to help me break into the racing profession and I'm delighted to be able to return the favour and provide my support to enhance the career of someone who is very dear to me and who has been such a positive influence on my own career."

· Josh Beaulieu, who finished on his first Barber Dodge Pro Series podium this past weekend at Road America, will be one of the few drivers in the three CART series who has experience at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve. In fact, he won a Canadian F1600 race there in 2001 during the Formula 1 weekend. Beaulieu is a native of Langley, British Columbia Canada.

Molson Indy Montreal Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, Montreal, Quebec, Canada Friday-Sunday, August 23-25

CART SCHEDULE (All times local): FRIDAY, AUGUST 23 Barber Dodge practice, 8:15 - 8:50 a.m. Champ Car practice, 10:00 - 11:30 a.m.; Atlantic practice, 11:45 a.m. - 12:20 p.m. Barber Dodge qualifying, 12:40 - 1:10 p.m. Champ Car qualifying, 2:10 - 3:10 p.m. Atlantic qualifying, 4:00 - 4:30 p.m.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 24 Barber Dodge practice, 8:10 - 8:40 a.m. Atlantic qualifying, 9:00 - 9:40 a.m. Champ Car practice, 10:00 - 11:15 a.m. Barber Dodge qualifying, 12:20 - 12:50 p.m. Champ Car qualifying, 1:45 - 2:45 p.m. Atlantic race, 3:30 - 4:45 p.m.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 25 Barber Dodge warm-up, 8:30 - 8:45 a.m. Champ Car warm-up, 10:00 - 10:30 a.m. Barber Dodge race, 11:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. CART Molson Indy Montreal, 2:00 p.m.

U.S. TELEVISION SCHEDULE

FRIDAY, AUGUST 23 SPEED Channel, CART qualifying, 2:00 p.m. ET (Live) SPEED Channel, CART Friday Night, 10:30 p.m. ET

SATURDAY, AUGUST 24 SPEED Channel, CART qualifying, 1:30 p.m. ET (Live)

SUNDAY, AUGUST 25 SPEED Channel, Molson Indy Montreal, 2:00 p.m., ET (Live).

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Chris Kneifel , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Bruno Junqueira , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Shinji Nakano , Kenny Brack , Michael Valiante , Joey Hand , Stephan C. Roy , Jonathan Macri , Josh Beaulieu , Gilles Villeneuve , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Chip Ganassi , Cristiano da Matta , Michel Jourdain
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing