CART HEADS 'DOWN UNDER' TO THE GOLD COAST OF AUSTRALIA FOR THE 12TH CONSECUTIVE SEASON - The CART FedEx Championship Series begins the final portion of its 2002 season this weekend with the Honda Indy 300 in Surfer's Paradise, Australia. With the...
CART HEADS 'DOWN UNDER' TO THE GOLD COAST OF AUSTRALIA FOR THE 12TH CONSECUTIVE SEASON - The CART FedEx Championship Series begins the final portion of its 2002 season this weekend with the Honda Indy 300 in Surfer's Paradise, Australia. With the championship battle having been decided three weeks ago in Miami after Cristiano da Matta claimed the title, a competitive fight still remains for the coveted runner-up position and the $500,000 payout that goes with it. Ford drivers Patrick Carpentier and Michel Jourdain Jr., currently fourth and sixth, respectively in the standings, are among several drivers who can still clinch second place in the championship with strong finishes in the final three events of the 2002 season.
FORD-COSWORTH HISTORY IN AUSTRALIA - Ford and Cosworth have enjoyed quite a bit of success in Surfer's Paradise track since 1991 with three pole positions and five victories. Nigel Mansell started consecutive races from the pole in 1993 and 1994 before Michael Andretti scored his second career Australian pole position in 1995 [inaugural polesitter in 1991]. Mansell would win the race from pole in '93 with Andretti savoring victory a year later in 1994. Andretti's teammate at the time, Paul Tracy, was victorious following season in 1995, while Scott Pruett won two years later in 1997 to give Ford-Cosworth its fourth victory in five years at Surfer's. Adrian Fernandez was Ford-Cosworth's most recent Australian race champion when qualified 17th but worked his way through the field to claim the victory.
FORD DRIVER NOTES -
Patrick Carpentier - Endured a disappointing weekend in Miami where he qualified 17th and finished 16th after making contact with Mario Dominguez just 34 laps into the race. For the season he has scored top-10 finishes in Monterrey [seventh], Japan [fourth], Laguna Seca [fifth], Portland [fifth], Toronto [10th], Cleveland [first], Vancouver [fifth], Mid-Ohio [first], Road America [seventh] and Rockingham [fourth]. Currently fourth in the championship standings with 115 points, surpassing his previous career-high of 101 points established in 2000 when he finished 11th in the standings. Has one top-10 result in four career starts in Australia, including a fifth-place finish that came in 2000.
Mario Dominguez - Turned in perhaps his best performance of the season in Miami where he overcame several obstacles during qualifying and the race to post an 11th-place finish. Scored his best Champ Car finish to date at Road America on August 18th when he finished eighth after qualifying 17th. Made his first points-paying finish of the season in Japan when he came home 11th [two points]. With 17 championship points, he remains second in the Jim Trueman Rookie of the Year standings behind Townsend Bell [19 points].
Michel Jourdain, Jr. - Did not qualify well in Miami but drove a strong race and finished sixth despite a miscue in the pits. The result extended his streak of consecutive points-paying finishes to 16 [a Team Rahal record] and he is the only driver in the series who has finished all 16 races thus far this season. With top-five finishes this season in Monterrey [fourth], Long Beach [fifth], Japan [fifth], Milwaukee [fifth] and Vancouver [fourth], he is currently sixth in the championship with 102 points. Vying to become the first CART driver to score championship points in every race of the season since Al Unser, Jr., did it in 1992, Jourdain has set career highs in points (102), top-five results (five) and top 10 results (13). Scored his best results in Australia the last two years with back-to-back seventh-place finishes.
Alex Tagliani - Was the top Ford-powered entry in Miami where he qualified fifth and finished fourth to score his fourth top-five result of the season. Has now scored points in 11 of his last 12 events and currently sits seventh in the championship standings with a career-high 95 points. His best finish in two career starts at Surfer's came last year when he qualified seventh and finished third.
Jimmy Vasser - Qualified a disappointing 12th on the streets of Miami but drove an aggressive race and finished third to make just his second podium appearance of the season [Long Beach]. The result was his sixth consecutive top-10 finish and his eighth in the last nine races dating back to Toronto. The former CART champion now has 11 top-10 finishes this season and currently sits ninth in the championship standings with 90 points. Vasser made his first career Champ Car start in Australia  and has scored four top-10 and three top-five finishes there, including a victory from the pole in 1996.
COSWORTH RACING CHAMP CAR WINS - Patrick Carpentier's third career Champ Car victory at Mid-Ohio on August 11th, 2002 was the 214th victory for Cosworth Racing in USAC- and CART-sanctioned races since it entered North American open-wheeled racing in 1976. Cosworth has won 168 CART-sanctioned races and 46 USAC-sanctioned races, including five victories in 1996 with the Ford-Cosworth XB engine during the inaugural season of the Indy Racing League [IRL]. Michael Andretti has won the most races using a Cosworth engine , followed by Rick Mears , Bobby Rahal , Mario Andretti  and Johnny Rutherford .
SPARK PLUGS - Michel Jourdain, Jr., is the only Champ Car driver this season who has finished every race and has scored championship points in every event ... Patrick Carpentier has two wins and six top-five finishes through 16 races this season, eclipsing last year's total of one win and five top-five finishes ... Alex Tagliani has scored championship points in all but three races this season [Long Beach - DNF; Milwaukee - DNF; Rockingham - DNF] ... Jourdain leads all drivers by having completed 2,037 out of a possible 2,048 laps this season [99.5%].