FedEx CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES HAPPENINGS Notes and Quotes from CART Sneak Preview, January 17, 2001 TEAM PENSKE Marlboro Team Penske announced Tuesday that drivers Gil de Ferran, the reigning FedEx Championship Series champion, and...
FedEx CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES HAPPENINGS Notes and Quotes from CART Sneak Preview, January 17, 2001
Marlboro Team Penske announced Tuesday that drivers Gil de Ferran, the reigning FedEx Championship Series champion, and Helio Castroneves will compete in the 2001 Indianapolis 500 on May 27. It will mark the team's first appearance in the annual race since 1995.
The team will compete with sponsorship from Marlboro, its primary sponsor in the FedEx Championship Series.
De Ferran and Castroneves both tested at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last summer. De Ferran has made one career appearance in the 500, in 1995, when he started 19th and finished 29th. Castroneves will be making his first competitive appearance at the Speedway.
"We're certainly attempting to take a bigger bite [this season]," said de Ferran, who claimed Marlboro Team Penske's 10th Champ Car driving championship last year. "To have the opportunity to go there with [team owner] Roger [Penske] and the whole team is a very big happening in my life. It's definitely something I would like to add to my resume before I stop."
NEW DRIVERS FOR PACWEST AND TEAM PRG
Two teams unveiled new drivers during the first day of photos and interviews at Sneak Preview Tuesday. PacWest Racing Group confirmed 2000 Dayton Indy Lights champion Scott Dixon as the driver of the #18 PacWest Toyota Reynard. The 20-year-old native of New Zealand will join with Champ Car veteran Mauricio Gugelmin on the two-car team.
"A Champ Car drive has been my goal since Day One, and it's fantastic that I will realize that at this stage in my career," said Dixon. "I have to thank (owner) Bruce McCaw and the rest of the PacWest operation for giving me this opportunity in what is the world's most competitive open-wheel series. I've enjoyed my testing in the Champ Car, especially during this off-season, and I cannot wait to get out there full-time. I am going to be on a steep learning curve, but I would like to think that we can be competitive and challenging for wins early into the season. I believe the Toyota engine package is the one to have next season, and that PacWest can play a big role in helping Toyota win the Manufacturers' Championship."
Joining Dixon in the running for 2001 Jim Trueman Rookie of the Year honors will be German driver Michael Krumm, who was announced as the new teammate to Luiz Garcia Jr. with the Project Racing Group. The 30-year-old Krumm comes to FedEx Championship Series competition with more than 15 years of experience in international formula car and GT racing, and will pilot a Ilmor-powered Reynard chassis. Team PRG is co-owned by Andreas Leberle and former Champ Car competitor Christian Danner, both German natives.
"With the CART series expanding its schedule to include races in England and Germany this year, and our team being European-owned between Danner and myself, this has opened up a lot of doors for us," Leberle said. "It's a little bit late in the game for this to be coming together, but we think the expansion to two cars will elevate both of our drivers because they will be able to share technical information. With testing being limited by the rules in CART this year, running two cars is more important than ever."
Mexican brewing company Tecate and Telefonos de Mexico (Telmex) were announced as title sponsors of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series season opener in Monterrey, Mexico. Group Herdez, a leading company in the Mexican food and beverage market, was also announced as a presenting sponsor of the event, which will be known as the 2001 Tecate Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix Presented by Herdez. "We are proud to have companies the stature of Tecate, Telmex, and Herdez associated with the Tecate Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix presented by Herdez," said race promoter U.E. "Pat" Patrick. "All three companies are outstanding in their areas of expertise and will bring added prestige and exposure to the race." The inaugural Tecate Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix presented by Herdez is scheduled for March 11.
FedEx Championship Series drivers Gil de Ferran and Kenny Brack will participate in the 25th running of the True Value IROC series. A field of 12 drivers, representing both open-wheel and stock car racing, will compete in equalized Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am race cars. The four-race series awards points according to finishing positions, and at the end of the fourth event, points are tallied and a champion is declared. Joining the CART duo will be Indy Racing Northern Light Series champion Buddy Lazier along with fellow series drivers Scott Goodyear, Eddie Cheever, Jr., and Mark Dismore; NASCAR Winston Cup champion Bobby Labonte, and fellow NASCAR competitors Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Burton, Dale Jarrett, and Ricky Rudd; and NASCAR Busch Series champion Jeff Green. The True Value IROC series begins on February 16 with the first race at the Daytona International Speedway.
Reigning FedEx Series champion Gil de Ferran took home the Mario Andretti Trophy as the leading vote-getter for the 2000 CART All-Star Team, announced Tuesday evening. De Ferran was joined on the team by Paul Tracy of Team KOOL Green, Adrian Fernandez of Fernandez of Fernandez Racing, Michael Andretti of Team Motorola and 1999 series champion Juan Montoya. The voting was conducted by CART drivers, a select group of media, fans and a pair of celebrity judges - musician Lenny Kravitz and actor/director Sylvester Stallone.
The inaugural Indy Lights and Toyota Atlantic All-Star teams were also introduced. On the Indy Lights team were drivers Casey Mears, Townsend Bell and the top selection, 2000 champion Scott Dixon. The Toyota Atlantic All-Star team featured Rocky Moran Jr., Daniel Wheldon, and season champion Buddy Rice.