CHAMPCAR/CART: Tarso Marques Milwaukee preview

SAN CLEMENTE, Calif - Tarso Marques will face up to the ever more competitive CART FedEx Championship drivers on the second straight short oval, the Milwaukee Mile, this weekend (June 2-4) in a very capable new car fielded by the Swift ...

SAN CLEMENTE, Calif - Tarso Marques will face up to the ever more competitive CART FedEx Championship drivers on the second straight short oval, the Milwaukee Mile, this weekend (June 2-4) in a very capable new car fielded by the Swift factory.

Fresh from scoring his first championship point at Nazareth (Pa.) Speedway, Marques will drive the Panasonic Swift Ford Sunday in the Miller Lite 225 at the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds in West Allis.

Marques, a road racing specialist from Curitiba, Brazil, is still getting acquainted with his new Swift car since he first drove it at Twin Ring Motegi May 13 of this season.

Starting late, in the fourth race of the season after missing the entire preseason of testing and the first three races, Marques has impressed team manager Peter Scott, CART officials and fans with his ability to pilot a new, unfamiliar car across the finish line both times this season, at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan and at Nazareth, Pa., two weeks later.

"It was a credit to Marques' driving ability, of course, but more importantly his performance showed the stability of our new chassis, which was thrust into competition before our team had a proper amount of time for development on the track," reported Swift president Gary Holmes. "That reflects not only on the integrity of our design but also on the ability of the team to make our car ready to race."

In his first start, Marques moved up from 21" to finish 17th at Japan. Last weekend, with the rest of the field already qualified from the originally snowed-out race weekend early in April, Marques had to start last in a 23-car field and wound up 12 th, That was good enough to score a championship point and win the Budweiser Hard Charger Award for the best position improvement in the Nazareth race.

Marques is in his second season on the CART FedEx Championship circuit. He has shown the promise of possible future greatness but is still barely out of the ranks of rookie drivers. Winner of Brazilian championships in both kart and open wheel road racing with some experience in Formula 1 and lesser formula series in Europe, he only ran a partial CART season in 1999.

Except for a July 30 date in the Target Grand Prix at Cicero, Ill., this will be his last appearance this year on a one-mile oval. (Milwaukee officially is 1.032 miles per lap; Chicago Motor Speedway measures 1.029 miles per lap.) Following this weekend's event, the rest of the year offers a wide range of road courses, street circuits and super speedways. Until his rookie season in 1999, Marques had never raced on anything but a road course.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Tarso Marques