CHAMPCAR/CART: Nazareth: Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix Presented by Toyota Notes

DETROIT (April 4, 2000) - This weekend's Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix Presented by Toyota will mark the competitive debut of the high-downforce variant of the Handford MkII, a new rear-wing aerodynamic package implemented by CART for use at five...

DETROIT (April 4, 2000) - This weekend's Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix Presented by Toyota will mark the competitive debut of the high-downforce variant of the Handford MkII, a new rear-wing aerodynamic package implemented by CART for use at five venues this season. The device, designed by Mark Handford, former vice president of engineering and technical director at Swift Engineering, is expected to create enough additional drag to reduce the need to downshift on ovals, thereby reducing the potential for accidents. The Handford MkII is also expected to improve cars' overtaking ability on short and intermediate ovals. In addition to Nazareth Speedway, the high-downforce variant of the Handford MkII will also be utilized at Emerson Fittipaldi Speedway in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; The Milwaukee Mile, Chicago Motor Speedway and Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis.

* The pit crew for Paul Tracy started out strongly in its defense of the Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge championship it won last season, taking the lead in this year's competition following the season-opening event at Homestead. Among drivers who finished the event, Tracy spent the least time in the pits and thus his crew collected 20 points for their performance. Max Papis' crew stands second with 16 points, followed by the crews for Dario Franchitti and Cristiano da Matta (Pioneer/MCI WorldCom Toyota Reynard), with 14 and 12 points, respectively. The Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge is a season-long pit stop competition that will pay $50,000 to the winning team at the season-ending Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota at California Speedway. Points in the Challenge, sponsored by Craftsman, the Official Tool of CART, are awarded according to the same scale used to determine the FedEx Championship Series champion (20-16-14-12-10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1), but based on total time spent in the pits at each event. Points will be accumulated through the first 19 events of the season, and the top four teams following Round 19 - the Honda Indy 300 in Surfers Paradise, Australia - will qualify for a head-to-head battle for the top prize prior to the season finale.

* Tracy also took the early lead in the season-long competition for the Budweiser Hard Charger Award, which recognizes the driver who improves the most positions from start to finish at each event. Tracy gained 14 places from his 17th qualifying position to his third-place finish to top Papis (13th to first), Franchitti (22nd to 11th) and da Matta (23rd to 12th) on the opening weekend. Standings will be kept throughout the season, with drivers receiving one point for each place gained. The overall winner at the conclusion of the campaign will receive a cash award from Budweiser, the Official Beer of CART.

* ESPN's telecast of the FedEx Championship Series season opener from Homestead was the fourth-rated cable sports telecast for the week of Monday, March 20 through Sunday, March 26, according to Nielsen Media Research. The telecast, which drew a 1.7 rating, outdrew such programs as the NASCAR Busch Series, the NIT basketball tournament and the PGA Professional Player's Championship. The 1.7 rating translates to an equivalent of 1,326,000 households and 1,867,000 viewers.

* Newman/Haas Racing driver Michael Andretti will make an appearance at Philadelphia's First Union Center on Wednesday night during "Nazareth Speedway Night at the 76ers." Andretti will sign autographs prior to the National Basketball Association game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Atlanta Hawks, and a Champ Car driven by Michael's legendary father, Mario, will be displayed on the First Union Center concourse. The CART FanFest, a mobile display transporter featuring several interactive exhibits, will be on display outside the arena for free fan tours, and the first 5,000 fans in attendance at the game will receive free rally towels, courtesy of Toyota, presenting sponsor of the Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix.

* Pole qualifying for the Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix Presented by Toyota will air 6:30 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN2. CART 2Day airs 11 a.m. Sunday on ESPN2, with ABC-TV's live race broadcast due to begin at 1 p.m. ET.

-CART-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Max Papis , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Emerson Fittipaldi , Cristiano da Matta