WHO'S HOT * Sporting a new 'do that was inspired by Brazilian World Cup tournament hero Ronaldo, Cristiano da Matta ( ...
* Sporting a new 'do that was inspired by Brazilian World Cup tournament hero Ronaldo, Cristiano da Matta (#6 Havoline Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) followed up Brazil's unprecedented fifth World Cup title with his third straight win in last weekend's CART FedEx Championship Series CART Grand Prix of Chicago. Da Matta got the new hairstyle along with fellow Brazilians Christian Fittipaldi (#11 Lilly Toyota/Lola Bridgestone), Bruno Junqueira (#4 Target Toyota Lola/Bridgestone) and Tony Kanaan (#10 Pioneer/WorldCom/Mo Nunn Racing Honda Lola/Bridgestone) on race-day morning to celebrate the Brazilian side's 2-0 win over Germany in the World Cup final. The Chicago win was his first on an oval this year and made it four on the season (Monterrey, Mexico, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and Portland International Raceway) which has da Matta leading the championship point standings (95-70) over Champ Car sophomore Bruno Junqueira. For the second time this season, Da Matta will be looking to tie a CART record this weekend at Toronto as he looks to join Al Unser Jr. and Alex Zanardi as the only driver to win four consecutive races.
* The Chicago podium of Cristiano da Matta, Bruno Junqueira and Dario Franchitti (#27 KOOL Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) finished in the same order as they did in the previous race at Portland, marking the first time since 1994 that CART has had the exact same podium in two consecutive races since Mid-Ohio and Loudon when Al Unser Jr., Paul Tracy (#26 KOOL Honda/Lola Bridgestone) and Emerson Fittipaldi turned the trick.
* With a 10th-place finish in last weekend's CART Grand Prix of Chicago, Michel Jourdain Jr. (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) is the only driver to have finished in the top 10 in each of the year's first seven races. Jourdain, fourth in points with 57, became the first driver to start a season with seven straight top 10s since Christian Fittipaldi reeled off seven straight to begin the 1999 campaign.
* Behind the podium residents at Chicago were a pair of drivers that had career-best days in the CART FedEx Championship Series. Tora Takagi (#5 Pioneer/Denso Special Toyota/Reynard Bridgestone) equaled a career best with a fourth-place finish, a placing that was his best-ever finish on a oval track and matched his high of fourth from last year in Houston. Takagi was strong in Saturday practice and ran in the top 10 all day long before moving up to give Walker Racing a strong placement. Shinji Nakano (#52 Alpine/Mitsuba Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) earned his first career top-five finish by coming home fifth, marking the first time in CART history that two Japanese drivers have finished in the top five in a race.
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
* Michael Andretti (#39 Motorola Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) has an unprecedented seven Champ Car wins at Toronto (1989, '91-92, '94-95 and '00-01) which marks the most victories by any Champ Car driver at one venue in series history.
* Mexican team owner/driver Adrian Fernandez (#51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Honda Lola/Bridgestone) and Scotland's Dario Franchitti have both proven they can get it done in the streets of Toronto, having won this event in 1996 and 1999, respectively. Franchitti also won poles here in 1997 and '98.
* Toyota-powered drivers have won five of seven CART FedEx Championship Series events contested this season, including wins in the Tecate Telmex Grand Prix of Monterrey (Round 1), the Bridgestone Potenza 500 (Round 3), the Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey Featuring the Shell 300 (Round 5), the G.I. Joe's 200 (Round 6) and last weekend's CART Grand Prix of Chicago (Round 7). Honda holds the rights to the remaining two victories in the 28th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Round 2) and the Miller Lite 250 in Milwaukee (Round 4).
* Toyota finished one-two last weekend at Chicago for the third straight race this season (Laguna Seca and Portland International Raceway). With the steak, Toyota (131) extends its lead in the hunt for the Manufacturer's Championship over Honda (106) and Ford-Cosworth (85).
* Lola has won nine of the past 10 CART FedEx Championship Series events, dating back to a victory by Max Papis in the Honda Grand Prix of Monterrey Featuring the Shell 300 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca last year. Also included in the run are two phenomenal streaks of three in a row by Cristiano da Matta. First at Australia (Round 19, 2001), Fontana (Round 20, 2001) and Monterrey (Round 1, 2002) and again at Laguna Seca, Portland and Chicago in the last three rounds this season. Junqueira helped Lola's cause this season in Japan (Round 3) with a victory as did Tracy in Milwaukee (Round 4). Reynard interrupted Lola's streak when Andretti won at Long Beach in Round 2.
* The Honda-Reynard combination has been the weapon of choice at Toronto recently, accounting for wins in 1998-'99 and '00. But history shows that any number of engine-chassis configurations can get to victory circle in the Molson Indy Toronto. Ford-Cosworth has supplied the winning power plant five times to Honda's four, and the Lola chassis has seven wins to Reynard's five in the event's 16-year history. NOTEWORTHY
* Alex Zanardi will be in Toronto this week to receive the Greg Moore Achievement Award. The award will be presented to Zanardi during this Year's Black & White Gala Dinner presented by FedEx, the title sponsor of the CART FedEx Championship Series, July 4 at the Liberty Grand at Exhibition Place. The Molson Indy Achievement Award, introduced in 1987 and renamed the Greg Moore Achievement Award in 2000, recognizes an individual, group or organization that has made a major contribution to auto racing, particularly in regard to the CART FedEx Championship Series..."Alex has been a huge supporter of Molson IndyFest events in Toronto over the years," said Executive Director for the Molson Indy Festival Foundation Charlie Johnstone. "He has contributed so much to the CART FedEx Championship Series and is a fan favorite in Toronto, exhibiting a terrific spirit both on and off the track."...Past recipients of the award include Barry Green, Ric Moore, Bobby Rahal, Michael Andretti, Wally Dallenbach, Player's Ltd., Al Unser, Rick Mears, Dr. Steve Olvey and Dr. Terry Trammell, Roger Penske, Jim Chapman, Mario Andretti, John Frasco and Carl Haas.
* The Black & White Gala Dinner presented by FedEx also doubles as the biggest fundraising event - and the social highlight - of a series of Molson IndyFest events taking place June 22 - July 5. Molson IndyFest is one of the best weekends of racing action around, delivering an entire week of pre-race festivities geared to getting the community revved up for CART FedEx Championship Series Molson Indy Toronto. All funds raised at Molson IndyFest events will be donated to the Molson Indy Festival Foundation, the charitable component of the Molson Indy, which supports local children's charities. The foundation will raise over $450,000 this year, making the total contribution to-date in excess of $4 million dollars.
* Kenny Brack (#12 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) was eliminated in a first-turn incident in Chicago, marking his fourth DNF of the 2002 season. He only failed to finish five events in all of the 2001 campaign.
* Townsend Bell (#20 Visteon Toyota/Reynard/Bridgestone) leads Mario Dominguez (#55 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) in the Jim Trueman Rookie of the Year race 19-7. Dominguez gained another point on Bell in Chicago, finishing 11th to Bell's 12th.
* Player's/Forsythe CART FedEx Championship Series drivers Alex Tagliani (#33 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone)and Patrick Carpentier (#32 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) are going to take the days before the first race of the year in their native Canada to help launch the summer issue of a men's magazine in their home country. Carpentier and Tagliani will be attending a special gathering to kick off the Molson Indy Toronto week tonight, where the summer issue of RAZOR magazine will be launched. RAZOR is a men's magazine that shares the latest trends in fashion, music and current events with its readers along with featuring photo spreads with some of the world's top female models. The drivers will show off some of the year's top men's fashions in conjunction with a bevy of RAZOR models. The party will be the first event in a week-long festival centering on Sunday's Champ Car race. The gathering will take place Tuesday from 5-7 p.m. at the Sugar Club at 57 Duncan in Toronto.
* Simple Green, sponsor of the Simple Green CART Safety Team and the official cleaner and degreaser of the CART FedEx Championship Series, had a significant impact in sales from their recent tie-ins with Ace Hardware for the CART FedEx Championship Series events in Chicago (Round 7) and Long Beach (Round 2). The 2002 promotions within the CART FedEx Championship Series have been so successful that Simple Green and Ace Hardware are stepping up their participation in a much larger way for the entire 2003 season. At the Round 17 CART FedEx Championship Series race in Miami, Simple Green will partner will over 800 Publix supermarkets for in-store product displays and special value price points.
* The WorldCom Most Popular Driver Award allows fans to cast their vote for their favorite CART FedEx Championship Series driver by filling out an official entry form. These entry forms can be filled out on-site in Toronto at the WorldCom Most Popular Driver voting tent. Also, voting can take place on CART's official website, www.cart.com, www.espn/rpm.com and www.WorldComracing.com. Votes will be tabulated and a fan selected at random will have the opportunity to present the award to the Most Popular Driver at the 2002 CART FedEx Championship Series Awards banquet, a trip to the inaugural 2003 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and a Skip Barber Racing School package. The winning driver will be presented with a trophy and a check for $25,000 that will be donated to the driver's favorite charity.
* Cristiano da Matta's #6 Newman/Haas crew earned the Wild Card entry for the Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge season-ending shootout by posting the lowest aggregate time in pit lane during last Sunday's CART Grand Prix of Chicago. Da Matta's #6 Havoline Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone spent just 1:39.450 on Pit Lane during his three Sunday stops to beat the Target Chip Ganassi Racing team of Bruno Junqueira by 1.033 seconds.
* Herdez Competition will debut a new trailer this weekend at Toronto as the team gears up to what it hopes will be an expansion to two cars in 2003. The new trailer was built by Ultra Comp Trailers of Highlina, Illinois and includes a built-in kitchen, two office stations and is expandable on both sides. The trailer also features four 42-inch Viewsonic plasma television screens with surround-sound capabilities.
* This Sunday's live broadcast of the CART FedEx Championship Series Molson Indy Toronto (CBS, 1:30 p.m. ET) from Exhibition Place in Toronto, Ontario, Canada will be the fourth of seven events to air on CBS Sports this season. CART Friday Night will air live on SPEED Channel along with live Friday and Saturday qualifying sessions from the CART FedEx Championship Series Molson Indy Toronto.