CHAMPCAR/CART: Nazareth Post RACE Notes

Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix Presented By Toyota Notebook Nazareth, PA(April 27, 1998) -- Robby Gordon (Panasonic-Duskin Reynard Toyota) finished seventh Monday in his return to FedEx Championship Series competition. Gordon, who started...

Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix Presented By Toyota Notebook

Nazareth, PA(April 27, 1998) -- Robby Gordon (Panasonic-Duskin Reynard Toyota) finished seventh Monday in his return to FedEx Championship Series competition. Gordon, who started 24th, earned the best finish ever for a Toyota-powered entry in the manufacturer's three years of FedEx Championship Series competition. It was his first appearance since last year's season finale at California Speedway and only his second since the final race of the 1996 season at Laguna Seca. "I'm impressed," Gordon said. "It's great to be on this team and to be back with my engineer, Kenny Anderson. We have a lot of depth and we understand each other. You have to praise the team; the guys did a great job and gave me the perfect car."

With 51 points, Greg Moore (Player's Indeck Reynard Mercedes) leads the PPG Cup standings for the first time in his career. Alex Zanardi is second with 50, followed by Adrian Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Labatt Reynard Ford) with 41, Gil de Ferran (Valvoline/Cummins Special Reynard Honda) with 33 and Jimmy Vasser (Target Reynard Honda) with 31.

Vasser's victory padded the United States' lead in the Nation's Cup standings, 73-52, over Canada. Italy is third with 50 points. Honda leads Ford, 69-66, in a closely contested

Manufacturer's Championship battle while Reynard owns a commanding 81-25 advantage in the Constructor's Championship over Swift.

Rookie Tony Kanaan (LCI Reynard Honda) finished ninth Monday for his third consecutive top-10 finish. He becomes the first rookie since Nigel Mansell in 1993 to finish in the top 10 in three of his first four FedEx Championship Series career starts. Kanaan earned four more points in the Rookie of the Year competition and now leads Helio Castro-Neves (Alumax Aluminum Reynard Mercedes), 22-6, in the rookie standings.

Zanardi currently tops the season earnings list with $210,000; followed by Moore ($170,000), Fernandez ($160,000), Vasser, ($154,250) and Michael Andretti (Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Swift Ford, $123,750).

Bobby Rahal (Miller Lite Reynard Ford) made the 250th start of his 17-year Champ Car career Monday, starting ninth and finishing a season-high sixth. All but one of those starts have come in CART-sanctioned events, the exception being the 1982 Indianapolis 500, which was not part of the PPG Cup championship that season. Rahal became the seventh driver to start 250 Champ Car events, joining Mario Andretti (407 starts), A.J. Foyt (369), Al Unser (321), Johnny Rutherford (315), Gordon Johncock (262) and Bobby Unser (259). With 15 events remaining this season, Rahal has the opportunity to move into fifth place all-time before his retirement as a driver at the conclusion of the season. Rahal's finish marked his fourth consecutive sixth-place showing in FedEx Championship Series events held at Nazareth Speedway. He has been running at the finish of each of his 12 career starts at Nazareth

Moore is the only Champ Car driver who has led all four FedEx Championship Series races this season. Moore led 36 laps at Homestead, 4 at Japan, 2 at Long Beach and 3 Monday. The Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix Presented by Toyota was the first event this season in which teammates led in the same race, and it occurred twice.

Target/Chip Ganassi teammates Vasser (41 laps led) and Zanardi (27) combined for 68 laps led, and the Player's Forsythe tandem of Patrick Carpentier (10, Player's/Indeck Reynard Mercedes) and Moore (3) combined for 13. The victory by Vasser marked the second time a Honda-powered car has won on a short oval since the engine manufacturer joined the FedEx Championship Series in 1994. The other short oval victory came at New Hampshire International Speedway on Aug. 20, 1995 when Andre Ribeiro, then a member of Tasman Motorsports, captured the New England 200 for Honda's first career victory in the series. Honda has 20 wins in 69 FedEx Championship Series races. The first- , second- and fourth-place finishes by Vasser, Zanardi and de Ferran, respectively, was the best performance by three Honda-powered entries in a race since the manufacturer joined the series. The previous best by a trio of Honda-powered cars was first, second and fifth, which occurred at Long Beach and Portland in 1996, and Long Beach this season.

Firestone swept the podium for the second consecutive race. The tire manufacturer captured the top-three finishing positions at Long Beach with Zanardi, Dario Franchitti (KOOL Reynard Honda) and Bryan Herta (Shell Reynard Ford). This marked just the third time in eight career starts at Nazareth that two-time race champion Paul Tracy (KOOL Reynard Honda) did not lead a lap. The only other occasions were his rookie season in 1991 and in '95. Carpentier claimed the initial pole position of his Champ Car career Saturday in a track record 18.419 seconds (184.696 mph), bettering the 18.831-second effort of Tracy last year. Carpentier and Moore became the second consecutive teammates to share the front row at a Champ Car event, following Herta and Rahal, respectively, at Long Beach

Prior to Monday's race, Al Unser Jr. (Marlboro Penske Mercedes) presented Hiro Matsushita (Panasonic-Duskin Reynard Toyota) with a display case containing autographed driving gloves of every CART driver who participated in the inaugural Budweiser 500, March 28 at Twin Ring Motegi, Japan. Matsushita, a nine-year Champ Car veteran who is tied for 14th with Teo Fabi with 116 career starts, is retiring as a CART driver following his participation May 10 in the Rio 400 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Source: CART Online

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby Gordon , Al Unser Jr. , Gil de Ferran , Jimmy Vasser , Adrian Fernandez , Bobby Rahal , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Alex Zanardi , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Nigel Mansell , Mario Andretti , Chip Ganassi , Gordon Johncock , Teo Fabi , Andre Ribeiro , Greg Moore , A.J. Foyt , Johnny Rutherford