CHAMPCAR/CART: Team Penske Fontana preview

This year's battle for CART's Vanderbilt Cup has developed into the closest Championship race in CART history. It seems only fitting that the eventual Champion will be crowned after the Marlboro 500, one of the most grueling races that CART...

This year's battle for CART's Vanderbilt Cup has developed into the closest Championship race in CART history. It seems only fitting that the eventual Champion will be crowned after the Marlboro 500, one of the most grueling races that CART drivers face all season - a 500-mile race on a superspeedway. Not only must the drivers complete 250 laps of racing at speeds over 200 mph, but there are many unforeseeable factors that influence a 500-mile race which usually endures three hours of wheel to wheel action and approximately five pit stops. The Marlboro 500 will provide a true test for the driver who will emerge as the 2000 CART FedEx Series Champion.

In preparation for the Marlboro 500, here's some fast facts on 500-mile races:

There are currently only six active drivers on the CART FedEx Championship series with 500-mile wins. Michael Andretti (2), Jimmy Vasser (2), Mark Blundell (1), Tony Kanaan (1), Adrian Fernandez (2), Juan Montoya (3).

Only three drivers have won from the pole in 500-mile races in the 90's (Rick Mears 1991 Indianapolis 500 and 1991 Marlboro 500; Al Unser Jr. 1994 Indianapolis 500; Jimmy Vasser 1996 US 500).

Al Unser holds the record for a win from the furthest starting position for when he started the 1987 Indianapolis 500 in 20th position. Adrian Fernandez holds the record for a win from the furthest starting position at the Marlboro 500 when he started in 13th position and won the race in 1999.

The U.S. 500 on July 26, 1998 in Michigan provided arguably the most exciting open wheel racing to date with 62 lead changes among nine different drivers. Before this race the record for lead changes was 27 at Michigan in 1982. The 1999 Marlboro 500 had 18 lead changes among eight drivers.

At the 1997 Marlboro 500, Mauricio Gugelmin recorded the fastest lap in auto racing history with a lap speed of 240.942 mph. Gugelmin's teammate, Mark Blundell won the inaugural CART race at California Speedway which was also his first 500-mile race win.

LEGENDS OF RACING TO BE HONORED AT THE MARLBORO 500
Some of the greatest names in auto racing history will be honored at this weekend's season-ending Marlboro 500. The most influential drivers of the last half of the twentieth century are expected to be at the California Speedway on October 27-29. Several activities have been planned throughout the weekend, including a Legends Autograph Session on Saturday, October 28 from 9:45 a.m. - 10:45 a.m. In addition, the Legends of Racing will join the current drivers in the CART FedEx Championship Series during pre-race ceremonies including a pre-race Heritage Car Parade.

Legends of Racing expected to be at the Marlboro 500 include:

Mario Andretti - The only driver to win the Indianapolis 500 (1969), Daytona 500 (1967), CART National Championship (1984) and the F1 Championship (1978)

Michael Andretti - 1991 CART Series Champion; CART's all-time winningest driver with 40 victories

Wally Dallenbach - Finished among the top-ten in the USAC Championship ten times; CART's long-time chief steward, who retired after the 1999 season

Emerson Fittipaldi - Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner (1989, 1993); 1989 CART National Champion; two-time Formula One World Champion (1972, 1974)

Dan Gurney - One of the founders of CART, earned seven wins and ten poles in his Champ Car career

Gordon Johncock - Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner (1973, 1982); ranks tenth in all-time Champ Car history for career wins (25)

Rick Mears - Three-time CART National Champion (1979, 1981, 1982); four-time Indianapolis 500 winner (1979, 1984, 1988, 1991)

Juan Montoya - 1999 CART National Champion; 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner

Bobby Rahal - Three-time CART National Champion (1986, 1987, 1992); 1986 Indianapolis 500 Champion

Johnny Runtherford - 1980 CART National Champion; Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner (1974, 1976, 1980)

Danny Sullivan - 1988 CART National Champion; 1985 Indianapolis 500 winner

Al Unser - Two-time CART National Champion (1983, 1985); four-time Indianapolis 500 winner (1970, 1971, 1978, 1987)

Bobby Unser - Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner (1968, 1975, 1981); two-time USAC Series Champion (1968, 1974)

Al Unser Jr. - Two-time CART National Champion (1990, 1994); two-time Indianapolis 500 winner (1992, 1994)

Jimmy Vasser - 1996 CART National Champion; nine career victories, ranks fourth among active CART drivers

Roger Ward - Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner (1959, 1962); two-time USAC Series Champion (1959, 1962)

Alex Zanardi - Two-time CART National Champion (1997, 1998); CART Rookie of the Year (1996)

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Wally Dallenbach , Al Unser Jr. , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Adrian Fernandez , Bobby Rahal , Alex Zanardi , Tony Kanaan , Mauricio Gugelmin , Mark Blundell , Dan Gurney , Mario Andretti , Rick Mears , Bobby Unser , Danny Sullivan , Emerson Fittipaldi , Gordon Johncock , Al Unser , Johnny R
Teams Team Penske