CHAMPCAR/CART: Nazareth Speedway preview

<pre> 2001 LEHIGH VALLEY GRAND PRIX presented by TOYOTA Fact Sheet WHAT: 15th consecutive CART race at Nazareth Speedway; round four of the 2001 CART FedEx Championship Series WHEN: Sunday May 6, 2001, 1:00 p.m., EDT WHERE: ...

<pre> 2001 LEHIGH VALLEY GRAND PRIX presented by TOYOTA

Fact Sheet

WHAT: 15th consecutive CART race at Nazareth Speedway; round four of the 2001 CART FedEx Championship Series

WHEN: Sunday May 6, 2001, 1:00 p.m., EDT

WHERE: Nazareth Speedway, Lehigh Valley, Pa.

TV/RADIO: ABC (Live). Live on CART Radio Network and on WAEB 790 AM (Allentown, PA)

QUALIFYING: Saturday, May 5, 1:15 p.m.

SUPPORT RACES: USAC Coors Light Silver Bullet Series, Saturday May 5, 3:40 p.m. (Approx.) Toyota Atlantic Series, Sunday, May 6 10:15 a.m. (Approx.)

RACE LENGTH: 225 miles (225 laps)

DEFENDING RACE CHAMPION: Gil de Ferran, (101.219 mph)

DEFENDING POLE SITTER: Juan Montoya, (188.177 mph, 19.255 seconds)

PAST WINNERS: 1999-Juan Montoya 1998-Jimmy Vasser 1997-Paul Tracy 1996-Michael Andretti 1995-Emerson Fittipaldi 1994-Paul Tracy 1993-Nigel Mansell 1992-Bobby Rahal 1991-Arie Luyendyk 1990-Emerson Fittipaldi 1989-Emerson Fittipaldi 1988-Danny Sullivan 1987-Michael Andretti

TRACK RECORDS: Qualifying: Patrick Carpentier, 195.450 mph (18.419 seconds), 1998 World one-mile, closed-course record

Race: Nigel Mansel, 158.686 mph, 1993 (200 mile race)

TICKETS: Nazareth Speedway Ticket Office: (toll-free) 1-888-629-RACE or 610-759-8800.

</pre> Quotable: CART announced in November that 2001 would be its last year at Nazareth.

Some thoughts:

Cristiano da Matta: "I don't know why drivers complain about Nazareth. I love this track and that is not PR talk. On a track like Nazareth, it's all driver performance. On the big ovals, you go flat-out all the way around- if you put my grandmother in the car she will go fast at those places. You have to drive the car at Nazareth. I would exchange any of the tracks we race on to get back the short ovals like Nazareth."

Re: driving Michael Andretti's old No. 6 car: "I hope fans forget Michael is another car this year and keep cheering for the No. 6 car like they do every year. I could use the help."

Jimmy Vasser: "I hate to see Nazareth go off of the schedule. It's one of my favorite places and I have some great memories there. There's always so much action at Nazareth with all of the lapped cars. From my perspective, it's a very exciting race. Maybe the stands will be packed this year and CART will change its mind about leaving. I would like to see the race stay."

Mario Andretti: "All I need is the ammunition of a full grandstand and I will go to CART and fight to keep this race. It would be a great loss if CART doesn't change its mind. There is a lot of pride in having the race in Nazareth. This race is very important to me and the entire Andretti family."

Roger Penske: "Nazareth is a nice, clean place with a solid fan base. CART has got to look at the situation when they lose this race, the race in Miami-places that want the race- and then to want to go to Brazil, which doesn't want the race. We started all this (Nazareth) with wooden bleachers and put millions of dollars into the facility. We were there when CART needed tracks."

Race Notes:

Roger Penske, who bought Nazareth Speedway in 1986 when it was a dormant, dirt track and turned it into a state-of-the-art paved oval, will be the Grand Marshal for the race. While supplies last on race day, fans will receive a pack of baseball-style cards of some of the CART stars. The Lehigh Valley Grand Prix presented by Toyota will be the last domestic CART race before five series drivers compete in the Indy 500 on May 27. Michael Andretti, Gil de Ferran, Helio Castroneves, Nicolas Minassian and Bruno Junqueira are scheduled to compete in the race. Mauricio Gugelmin recorded his best finish of the season at Nazareth last year (second). 2001 series points leader Cristiano da Matta, who won the season opener in Mexico, won twice at Nazareth in the Indy Lights Series (1997 and 1998) and finished fourth in Champ Cars in 1999, at the time the highest finish for a Toyota-powered car. Da Matta sites Nazareth as his favorite oval track. CART rookies Minassian, Junqueira, Scott Dixon and Tora Tagaki completed a successful test session at Nazareth on April 21. Drivers will use a low-downforce version of the Handford MkII device this year. Last season, a high downforce version was used and drivers complained of turbulent air behind cars in front of them, making it difficult to pass. This configuration, which was used at intermediate ovals like Homestead-Miami, Milwaukee, and Japan last year, is expected to slow drivers down through the corners and allow for higher speeds on the straight-aways.

Stat Pack: Andretti can tie Al Unser Jr. with the most Champ Car starts at Nazareth (13) and can pass Bobby Rahal as the all-time cumulative miles leader at Nazareth if he completes 85 laps. Andretti already holds Nazareth records for laps led (701), number of times led (12) and races led (seven). A victory by Andretti or Paul Tracy will make them three-time Nazareth winners. Only CART legend Emerson Fittipaldi has won three times in race history.

What, us worry about the weather, Part II? O.K., we joked about the snow in a press release last year and we paid the price, as an unexpected snowfall dropped three inches of snow, forcing the postponement of the race until May. So Nazareth Speedway came up with the idea that if it snowed at least an inch again this April 9, anybody who called or came to the track on April 10 would get a free ticket. The Speedway purchased insurance to guard against another freak snowstorm and would have loved to give away free tickets. Well, what happened this

April 9? Naturally, it was 82 degrees and sunny. If we could only be so lucky on race weekend... <pre> TENTATIVE SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

2001 Lehigh Valley Grand Prix Presented by Toyota CART FedEx Championship Series USAC Coors Light Silver Bullet Series Toyota Atlantic Series

FRIDAY, MAY 4

  8:00 AM                       Admission Gates Open
  8:00 AM -   8:30 AM           USAC Silver Bullet Practice
  8:45 AM -   9:25 AM           Toyota Atlantic Practice
  9:45 AM -  11:45 AM           CART PRACTICE
 12:00 PM  -  1:00 PM           USAC Silver Bullet Practice
  1:30 PM  -  3:15 PM           CART PRACTICE
  3:30 PM  -  4:00 PM           Toyota Atlantic Practice
  4:15 PM  -  4:45 PM           Pace Car on track activities
  5:00 PM  -  6:00 PM           USAC Silver Bullet Qualifying

SATURDAY, MAY 5

  8:00 AM                       Admission Gates Open
  8:00 AM -   8:30 AM           USAC Silver Bullet Qualifying Race
  8:45 AM -   9:15 AM           Toyota Atlantic Practice
  9:30 AM -  10:15 AM           CART PRACTICE - Group 1
 10:30 AM -  11:15 AM           CART PRACTICE - Group 2
 11:30 AM -  12:30 PM           Toyota Atlantic Qualifying
 12:45 PM -   1:15 PM           Pace Car on track activities
  1:30  PM -  3:00 PM           CART QUALIFYING
  3:05  PM -  3:35 PM           Pace Car on track activities
  3:40  PM -  5:45 PM           USAC SILVER BULLET SERIES RACE
  5:00  PM -  5:30 PM           CART DRIVERS AUTOGRAPH SESSION
  5:30  PM                      CART Winner's Circle Fan Club Meeting (Location TBA)

SUNDAY, MAY 6

  8:00 AM                       Admission Gates Open
  8:30 A M -  8:45 AM           Toyota Atlantic Warm-up
  9:00 AM -   9:30 AM           CART WARM-UP
  9:45 AM -  10:15 AM           Pace Car on track activities
 10:15 AM -  11:30 AM           Toyota Atlantic Race (65 laps)
 11:30 AM -  12:00 PM           Pace Car on track avtivities
 12:15 PM                       GRID CART CARS
  1:00 PM                       START OF LEHIGH VALLEY GRAND PRIX presented by TOYOTA CART FEDEX CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES (225 Laps)

*Race times subject to change.

*Rain dates if needed will be announced race weekend.

-NS-

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Arie Luyendyk , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Nicolas Minassian , Bobby Rahal , Patrick Carpentier , Paul Tracy , Scott Dixon , Mauricio Gugelmin , Nigel Mansell , Mario Andretti , Danny Sullivan , Emerson Fittipaldi , Roger Penske , Cristiano da Matta