WHO'S HOT * Canada's Paul Tracy ( ...
* Canada's Paul Tracy (#3 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) of Player's/Forsythe Racing took one step closer to his first CART Champ Car title after winning the Gran Premio Telmex-Gigante Presented by Banamex/VISA in Round 17 of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford at Mexico City. The Thrill From West Hill scored a point for provisional pole on Friday, another for leading the most laps and the all-important 20 markers for his series-best seventh victory of the year. The win gives Tracy a 226-197 advantage over nearest competitor Bruno Junqueira (#1 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) of Newman/Haas Racing who finished a disappointing seventh after starting third at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. Tracy will have an opportunity to clinch the championship for the first time in his illustrious Champ Car career in Surfers Paradise, Australia this weekend.
* French first year pilot Sebastien Bourdais (#2 Lilly Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) clinched the CART Champ Car Rookie of the Year award for Newman/Haas Racing in Mexico City after starting fourth and finishing second with his seventh podium this season. With two races remaining, Bourdais clinches the title on the strength of three wins (second only to Tracy win 7) and four poles (Tracy, 6) over nearest rookie contender Darren Manning (#15 RAC/Walker Racing Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) of England, 158-87.
* Mexico native Mario Dominguez (#55 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) of Herdez Competition sent CART's record raceday crowd of 221,011 into a frenzy with a podium result of third at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriquez. Dominguez, who resides in Mexico City, scored what he referred to as the most important result of his racing career in a charge from 11th to the podium for his seventh top five in a breakthrough year.
* Mexico's Michel Jourdain Jr. (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) kept his title hopes alive in Mexico with a respectable fourth-place run after starting eighth, largely in part to his Team Rahal squad's excellent pit strategy. Jourdain stands third in the championship behind Junqueira and Tracy with 183 points on the strength of his two wins in Milwaukee and Montreal, leads the loop in laps completed on the season with 1,843 of 1,875 and is second only to Tracy (658) in the laps led category with 347.
* With only three Champ Car starts under his belt, Former Formula 1 veteran Mika Salo (#27 PK Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) has already scored back-to-back top-five finishes for his rookie PK Racing squad after a third in Miami and a fifth in Mexico City. The Finn came from -12th in Mexico to finish in the top five, highlighted by a late charge that included overtaking maneuvers on veteran Bruno Junqueira and rookie Tiago Monteiro.
* Portuguese rookie Tiago Monteiro (#7 Fittipaldi-Dingman Racing Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) delivered team owner and former CART champion Emerson Fittipaldi the best result for his first year Champ Car squad in Mexico City. Monteiro scored a point for leading Saturday qualifying, started second and finished sixth, resulting in his third-straight top 10 finish -- all team bests for Fittipaldi-Dingman Racing.
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
* Mario Dominguez returns to the sight of his first career Champ Car win this weekend after taking the checkered in last year's rain soaked Surfers Paradise event that was shortened from 70 to 40 laps after Australia's worst drought in 94 years came to a crashing halt with a torrential downpour on raceday. The Mexican pilot became the seventh different winner on the season in Miami earlier this year with his win in Round 16 and stands sixth in points with 116.
* In addition to Dominguez' win last year, current Champ Car drivers who have tasted victory champagne Down Under include Paul Tracy in 1995, Jimmy Vasser (#12 American Spirit Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) from pole in 1996 and Adrian Fernandez (#51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) in 2000.
* Herdez Competition's Roberto Moreno (#4 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) returns to the Champ Car World Series in Australia after the team went to an all-Mexican lineup with rookie Roberto Gonzalez in Mexico City. The veteran Moreno scored the pole in the 2001 Australia event.
* Unpredictability Down Under...Repeat performances have not been a common sight in the 12 years that the Champ Cars have traveled to Australia, as no driver has ever won more than once on the Queensland street course.
* Paul Tracy will make his 209th career start in this weekend's Lexmark Indy 300, tying him with racing legend Mario Andretti for fourth on the all time CART Champ Car list.
BY THE NUMBERS
* Mexico City Crowd Breaks Series Mark, Season Count Over Two Million...CART set a new all-time attendance record when 351,972 spectators visited the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez last season, but this year's crowd for the Telmex-Gigante Presented by Banamex/Visa eclipsed last year's record by more than 50,000. The three-day attendance for the CART Champ Car weekend was a staggering 402,413, with a massive crowd of 221,011 streaming through the gates on race day. Both figures set new series records and the three-day attendance mark is the largest for a road-racing event run in North America in 2003. The figure pushed the season-long attendance figure to 2,091,287, which marks the 11th consecutive season in which CART Champ Car has drawn over two million fans. With two races yet to run, the series is on track to surpass 2.4 million fans for the sixth consecutive season
WHAT: Lexmark Indy 300
WHERE: Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
WHEN: Friday-Sunday, October 24-26
SUPPORT EVENTS: V8 Supercars, Nations Cup, Carrera Cup
CART SCHEDULE (All times local):
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 24
Champ Car practice, 10:00 -- 10:50 a.m.
Champ Car practice, 11:40 a.m. -- 12:30 p.m.
Champ Car qualifying, 3:00 -- 4:00 p.m.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 25
Champ Car practice, 10:00 -- 11:15 a.m.
Champ Car qualifying, 1:45 -- 2:45 p.m.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 26
Champ Car warmup, 10:45 -- 11:15 a.m.
Lexmark Indy 300 2:35 p.m.
U.S. TELEVISION SCHEDULE: SUNDAY, OCTOBER 26 -- SPEED Channel, Lexmark Indy 300, 12:30 a.m. (Live); Rebroadcast, 2:30 p.m.
TRACK LAYOUT: 2.795-mile street course
RACE LENGTH: 65 laps (181.675 miles)
RACE ROUND: 18 of 19 in the 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.
NEXT EVENT: November 2, The King Taco 500, California Speedway, Fontana, California.