Madison, Ill. -- Time is winding down on Team Target's race for a fifth consecutive CART championship, but with Jimmy Vasser and Juan Montoya still mathematically in the hunt for the title, neither driver is ready to give up. Vasser's...
Madison, Ill. -- Time is winding down on Team Target's race for a fifth consecutive CART championship, but with Jimmy Vasser and Juan Montoya still mathematically in the hunt for the title, neither driver is ready to give up.
Vasser's eighth-place finish in Monterey kept him within 41 points of leader Gil de Ferran. With four races remaining, starting with this weekend's Motorola 300, Vasser believes the championship race is still wide open.
"Our team has a nice little streak going here with a few top-ten finishes, so we've been happy with the car and the results and we'll continue to fight for every point we can get," said Vasser, who is seeking his fourth-straight top-eight finish. "I've seen some crazy things happen over the years in the series, and I keep reminding my teammates that this thing isn't over yet." The veteran Vasser realizes that the best way to jump back into championship contention is by taking a checkered flag or two.
"I'm confident I can give these guys at least one more victory, so that's one of my goals," Vasser said. "The race at Gateway is still fairly new, so no one has had a chance to create much history there, but I've had a few decent races in St. Louis, and I know we can do it again."
The 1999 Motorola 300 is where many observers first realized the tremendous skill possessed by defending series champion Juan Montoya. After earning the pole position, Montoya struggled with mechanical trouble, but continued to drive his hardest -- barely keeping his car from going sideways in several turns while managing to hang on to finish 11th. The reflexes and determination he displayed at Gateway would become his trademark as he went on to claim Target Chip Ganassi Racing's fourth straight CART title. After a streak of four DNFs, the 2000 Indy 500 champion finished sixth in last weekend's Grand Prix of Monterey. It was his first top-ten finish since he won the US 500 on July 23.
"It was good to get back in the points in Monterey and finish that bad streak, so things are looking better for Team Target," Montoya said. "We had fun on [Gateway] last year, but we can do even better. I want to get my second pole position there, and then just race and see what happens." Montoya also believes that the championship is still up for grabs, and, although he trails de Ferran by 47 points, he is not ready to give up the title of defending series champion.
"Chip has done a good job of keeping our team focused and believing that we still have a shot at the title, and we only know one way to race -- and that's fast," Montoya said. "I'm going out to win these final four races. If we end up falling short of a fifth title, no one will be ashamed because we've never given up this season. We're having too much fun to give up now."