FedEx CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES HAPPENINGS Notes and Quotes from Championship Auto Racing Teams, April 21, 1999 After back-to-back weekends of FedEx Championship Series competition at Motegi, Japan and Long Beach, Calif., championship points...
FedEx CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES HAPPENINGS Notes and Quotes from Championship Auto Racing Teams, April 21, 1999
After back-to-back weekends of FedEx Championship Series competition at Motegi, Japan and Long Beach, Calif., championship points leader Greg Moore and second-place Adrian Fernandez take a break from the series this weekend prior to next week's Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix Presented by Toyota at Nazareth Speedway.
That does not mean, however, that Moore (Player's/Indeck Mercedes Reynard) and Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford Swift) are taking a break from competition. Both will travel to Talladega, Ala. for Saturday's second round of the True Value International Race of Champions (IROC), which takes the green flag at 1 p.m. ET.
Al Unser Jr. (Marlboro Mercedes Penske) - IROC's career victory leader with 11 and winner of the last IROC event contested at Talladega in 1996 - will miss Saturday's race as he continues his recovery from a broken right ankle sustained in the March 21 FedEx Championship Series season opener at Homestead, Fla.
Moore is in his first year in the IROC series, an invitational contest which brings together 12 of the top drivers in motorsports to compete against each other in identically prepared cars. The Talladega stop is the second in the four-race IROC series, which began Feb. 12 at Daytona International Speedway.
Moore finished fifth in the opener, and will start eighth at Talladega, where the starting grid will be determined by reversing the order of finish at Daytona. Fernandez, who finished seventh at Daytona, will start sixth.
"The method of determining starting positions in IROC is extremely fair," Moore said. "By drawing for the first race and then reversing the order of finish, it makes for very exciting and enjoyable racing for the fans. My strategy will be to team up with some of the NASCAR guys and see how we are running toward the end of the race and then follow whoever looks the strongest."
Adrian Fernandez agrees, "I think it [reversing the finishing order for the start] is a good way. It makes it more interesting for the fans and drivers. I still think the starting position is not that important after my experience at Daytona. The cars are identical to each other and the drafting is so big that it doesn't really mean too much where you start, and it makes it interesting for the fans and everyone else. It is fair to say that the guy who won the [previous] race has to start last, so he has to work a little bit harder."
Fernandez, who earned his fourth career FedEx Championship Series victory at Motegi, stands second in the championship with 33 points heading to Nazareth next weekend. Moore leads with 39 while Gil de Ferran (Valvoline/Cummins Special Honda Reynard) stands third with 33 points. Fernandez holds the second-place tie-breaker based on highest finish, his victory at Motegi.
Bobby Rahal takes the wheel This week finds three-time FedEx Championship Series champion (1986, '87, '92) Bobby Rahal recording his first competitive miles since his retirement at the end of last season. Rahal, owner of Team Rahal which campaigns Bryan Herta (Shell Ford Reynard) and Max Papis (Miller Lite Ford Reynard) in the FedEx Championship Series, flew to Paris immediately following the conclusion of Sunday's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, in which Herta finished third and Papis ninth. While there, he will compete in the Tour Auto de France Le Centenarie, a rally event staged throughout France and Europe. The five-day event began Tuesday and continues through Saturday. Rahal will share driving duties with former sports car owner Bob Garretson in the Tour, which will incorporate laps around the circuits at Spa, Paul Ricard and Nurburgring in addition to segments on public roads. Rahal co-drove a Garretson-owned Porsche 935 to victory with Garretson and Brian Redman at the 1981 24 Hours of Daytona. "I'm very excited about this event because of the circuits we'll run and the history behind the Tour Auto de France," Rahal said. "This is the type of event that I've looked forward to, since it's a bunch of old drivers telling great stories, and some lies, about their racing careers. I guess I'm the newest of the retired drivers, so at least [I'm] the youngest in some form of motorsports again." Rahal is also scheduled to compete in two other historical racing events this year - the prestigious Historics event at Laguna Seca (Calif.) in August and the Goodwood event in England in September. He will drive a Lola sports racer at Laguna Seca and a Ferrari at Goodwood. Color Characters
PPG Industries announced Sunday at Long Beach that it would donate $250 to the Championship Auto Racing Auxiliary (CARA) for each PPG Colorful Character who attends the second annual Runway Madness charity fundraiser, slated for Friday, Oct. 29 in Fontana, Calif., wearing his/her official PPG Colorful Characters jacket. The Colorful Characters program was introduced in 1995 to recognize individuals who bring style, personality and fun to racing. Membership in the select group now numbers 56, following last week's selection of Chris Pook, President and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach. The Championship Auto Racing Auxliary was established in 1981 to serve the motorsports community through charitable work. "CARA helps to benefit the local community in each race market and provides support for many worthwhile programs," said Mike Sack, PPG Director of Sports Marketing. "PPG has been a long-time supporter of CARA and we are pleased to continue our support of CARA through this new tie to our PPG Colorful Characters program."
Series Leaders FedEx Championship Series points and earnings leaders heading into the May 2 Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix Presented by Toyota at Nazareth Speedway: FedEx Championship Series Points for the PPG Cup 1. Greg Moore, Player's Forsythe 39 2. Adrian Fernandez, Patrick Racing 33* 3. Gil de Ferran, Walker Racing 33 4. Michael Andretti, Newman/Haas 32 5. Dario Franchitti, Team KOOL Green 30
*Fernandez stands 2nd based on higher race finish, his victory at Japan