CHAMPCAR/CART: Team Target charegin to Houston GP

Houston (Sept. 26, 2000) -- During its remarkable streak of four consecutive CART FedEx championships, Target Chip Ganassi Racing has staged many remarkable comebacks. Current drivers Jimmy Vasser and Juan Montoya, and former driver Alex...

Houston (Sept. 26, 2000) -- During its remarkable streak of four consecutive CART FedEx championships, Target Chip Ganassi Racing has staged many remarkable comebacks. Current drivers Jimmy Vasser and Juan Montoya, and former driver Alex Zanardi are all famous for the ability to pass car after car on their way to the front of the pack. Montoya and Vasser are hoping that their knack for comebacks on the track carries over to their attempt to come from behind in the point standings and earn an unprecedented fifth consecutive CART championship for Team Target. What seemed like an impossible feat a few weeks ago has turned into a very plausible scenario, with both drivers clawing their way toward the leaders with impressive points-paying performances in recent races. Following Montoya's victory and Vasser's seventh-place effort in the Sept. 17 Motorola 300, the Team Target duo rank 31 and 40 points, respectively, behind leader Gil de Ferran (137 points). With three races remaining, starting with this weekend's Grand Prix of Houston, Montoya and Vasser are as focused as they've been all season on their goal of No. 5. "Even though we have a shot at the title, we're not going to change the way we're approaching these final races," said Montoya, the defending Indianapolis 500 winner. "There have only been a couple races this year where we haven't been running at the front of the pack for awhile or had a chance to win it. We've had some bad luck here and there, but our win at Gateway reminded Team Target that we also have the ability to win each weekend. That's our goal in Houston. There's a chance we can win all these final races and still not have enough to take home a fifth title for the team, so we just have to worry about our performance and let the racing handle the rest." Montoya, who earned the pole for last year's Grand Prix of Houston, is looking to notch his seventh pole of the season on Sunday. Contact forced Montoya out of the race in 1999, and the 24-year-old Colombian is excited to return to downtown Houston for the opportunity to visit victory circle for the fourth time this season. "I had fun in the streets of Houston last year, but I had some contact and only was able to finish about 10 or 12 laps," said Montoya, who has led 787 laps this year. "I want to get that pole again because this is the time of year when every point matters. We found that out last year." The experienced Vasser is also aware of the importance and the scarcity of points with three races remaining. Despite the pressure and an outside shot at winning his second CART championship, the 34-year-old veteran is enjoying this points battle. "Having so many drivers with a legitimate shot at the title is a fun way to finish up an interesting year," said Vasser, who has earned points in 12 of the 17 races this season. "This points race is so close that no one can afford to play it safe. Everyone is going to be battling for each spot, so we're going to see some exciting, aggressive racing. I plan to be right in there fighting for the podium. It's a long shot for us to win the championship, but no one is giving up. That trophy is up for grabs." In 1998, his first race at Houston, Vasser barely missed the podium, finishing fourth. Last year, brake problems forced him out after 76 of 100 laps, and he placed 20th. "I haven't finished on the podium yet in Houston, but I've always been a believer in the saying 'the third time is a charm,'" Vasser said. "I came close in '98 and had some bad luck last year, so I'm looking forward to getting back to Houston and getting a little closer to the points leaders. I've always enjoyed being the underdog and battling from behind." Considering Team Target's penchant for comebacks, no one would be surprised if Montoya and Vasser are even closer to the points leader following the Grand Prix of Houston.

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Jimmy Vasser , Alex Zanardi , Chip Ganassi
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing