CHAMPCAR/CART: Team Target Fontana preview

What: Marlboro 500 - The final round of the 21-race CART FedEx Series. When: Sunday, Nov. 4. Broadcast: 3:30 p.m. Eastern, ESPN. Broadcast live on CART Radio Network affiliates. Coverage of practice, qualifying and the race is also live...

What: Marlboro 500 - The final round of the 21-race CART FedEx Series.

When: Sunday, Nov. 4. Broadcast: 3:30 p.m. Eastern, ESPN. Broadcast live on CART Radio Network affiliates. Coverage of practice, qualifying and the race is also live on Qualifying --- Saturday, Nov. 3. Practice - Friday, Nov. 2.

Where: California Speedway's 2.029-mile oval in Fontana, Calif.

History: Former Team Target driver Jimmy Vasser won the 1998 race at Fontana. He placed second there in 1997. Memo Gidley placed 21st at Fontana in 2000. The Marlboro 500 will mark Bruno Junqueira's first race at California Speedway.

Fast Facts:

Memo Gidley's 10th-place finish last weekend at Australia was his third straight top-ten finish (third at Houston and second at Laguna Seca). Gidley has finished in the top ten six times since joining Team Target on June 24.

Gidley's second-place finish at the Oct. 14 Honda Grand Prix of Monterey marked his fourth top-five finish of the year.

Gidley's second-place efforts at Laguna Seca and Cleveland are his career-best finishes.

Bruno Junqueira scored his first CART series victory at the Motorola 220 in Elkhart Lake on Aug. 19, the first victory of the season for Team Target.

Junqueira's victory at Elkhart Lake was the 38th career victory for Team Target.

Junqueira ranks 17th in the series point standings with 56 points. Memo Gidley, who joined the team after the seventh race of the year, ranks 15th with 65 points.

Team Target has scored at least one championship point in nine of the last 10 races.

Gidley led nine laps at the July 29 Target Grand Prix, bringing his total laps led to 134 in six races, which places him sixth in laps led for the season.

Including the Indy 500, Junqueira has finished in the top 10 seven times this season (ninth at Long Beach, seventh at Nazareth, fifth at Indy, fourth at Milwaukee, ninth at Michigan, first at Elkhart Lake and seventh at Laguna Seca).

Junqueira claimed the first pole position of his CART career in his third race on May 6 at Nazareth.

Junqueira placed fifth in this year's Indy 500, his first-ever race on the famed 2.5-mile oval.

Junqueira and Gidley replace Juan Montoya, the 1999 CART champion, and Vasser, the 1996 CART champion.

Junqueira claimed the 2000 European F3000 Series championship, earning four victories.

Target Chip Ganassi Racing won 34 of the 92 CART FedEx Series events from 1996 through 2000.

Team Target has claimed four CART FedEx Series championships (1996-1999) and won the Indianapolis 500 in 2000.

Team Target drivers have claimed 32 of the 110 pole positions since 1996.

For the fifth straight season, Target Chip Ganassi Racing is raising money for Target House at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital by donating $5,000 for victories, $1,000 for pole positions and $25 for each lap led. The team has donated

more than $230,000 since 1997. So far this year, the team has donated $9,975.

Gidley and Junqueria hoping for one more trip to the podium

The 2001 CART FedEx Series has produced several thrilling moments and achievements for Target Chip Ganassi Racing. From rookie Bruno Junqueira's first pole position and victory, to mid-season addition Memo Gidley's consistent success, Team Target continues to impress the racing world with its pursuit of excellence.

With one race remaining, Sunday's Marlboro 500 at California Speedway, Junqueira and Gidley plan to give Team Target one more reason to celebrate.

"Sometimes it feels like the season just started, but then I look back on all that I've learned and experienced since I joined Team Target, and it seems like it was years ago," Junqueira said. "There are definitely a lot of things I'm proud of. I believe I improved a lot and it was obviously a great feeling to win a race in my rookie season. That was a feeling I hope to experience again this weekend."

Considering the season finale on Nov. 4 will be Junqueira's first race at California Speedway, the Brazilian will have his work cut out for him. However, Junqueira has demonstrated an ability to quickly adjust to new ovals. He placed seventh in his second oval race of the year (Nazareth) and finished fifth in his first Indy 500. Luck is also on Junqueria's side -- he turns 25 on Sunday.

"I don't think the other drivers will let me win just because it's my birthday, so I'm going to have to work hard with my team and do what we can to get to victory lane," Junqueira said. "I've been excited to race on this oval ever since the Indy 500. I know our team has the experience and I have the talent to win one more race this season."

Junqueira's teammate is also confident his No. 12 Toyota-Lola could take the checkered flagon Sunday. The California-raised driver has been on a red-hot streak recently, placing third in Houston, second in Monterey and 10th last weekend in Australia.

"The last few races, I've felt very comfortable working with my Team Target crew and driving the car as hard as I can," Gidley said. "I know that if we combine what we learn during practice and qualifying with set-ups and info from past years, I'm good to go once the green flag waves. It's a nice feeling to sit in that cockpit, knowing I have one of the best cars on the track and the best crew in the pits."

Although Sunday is his teammate's birthday, Gidley won't give Junqueira any presents once they're on the track.

"Bruno has been a great teammate this year, but once we're on the racetrack, he's just one of the guys I'm trying to beat," Gidley said. "I've raced at California Speedway before, so my present to Bruno will be some racing advice -- drive fast."

The Marlboro 500 roars to life on Sunday, Nov. 4 at 3:30 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Memo Gidley , Bruno Junqueira , Chip Ganassi
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing