CHAMPCAR/CART: Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach notes

{TX} DETROIT (April 11, 2000) * Michael Andretti (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola) owns nine top-10 finishes in 15 career starts at Long Beach, including a victory in 1986. He is also tied with his father, Mario, for the most pole positions...

{TX} DETROIT (April 11, 2000) * Michael Andretti (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola) owns nine top-10 finishes in 15 career starts at Long Beach, including a victory in 1986. He is also tied with his father, Mario, for the most pole positions at the venue with three (1991, '92 and '95), and has qualified outside the top 12 only once, last year, when he started 13th. He has led 113 laps at the venue during his career, topped by 47 en route to his 1986 victory.

* Gil de Ferran (Marlboro Honda Reynard) has won two pole positions at Long Beach (1996, '97) and has led at least one lap in three of five career appearances at the venue, for a total of 188. He led 100 of 105 laps in 1996 before being victimized by a disconnected turbocharger hose. His 188 laps led at Long Beach represent 26.4 percent of his career total laps-led of 710, which ranks 16th on the CART career list.

* Dario Franchitti owns consecutive runner-up efforts at Long Beach (1998, '99) and a string of three consecutive points-paying performances, including 12th in 1997.

* Bryan Herta (AVEX Honda Reynard), subbing for the injured Shinji Nakano of Walker Racing, has a pair of podium finishes in five starts at Long Beach (third in 1998 and last year). He has also scored championship points in four consecutive appearances, including 12th in 1996 and sixth in '97.

* Jimmy Vasser (Target Toyota Lola) owns five top-10 finishes in eight appearances at Long Beach, including a victory in 1996, seventh in '92, ninth in '97, eighth in '98 and 10th last year.

* Adrian Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford Reynard) has scored in four consecutive starts at Long Beach, comprised of back-to-back fourth-place finishes in 1998 and last year, sixth in '96 and 11th in '97.

* Mauricio Gugelmin's (Nextel PacWest Mercedes) runner-up finish in 1997 is the best of four points-paying results that he has posted in six career appearances at Long Beach. Also included are finishes of seventh in 1994, fifth in '95 and 10th in '98.

* Honda arrives in Long Beach with a streak of 14 consecutive FedEx Championship Series victories on temporary street circuits, dating to the start of the 1998 season. The last non-Honda-powered driver to win on a temporary street circuit was Mauricio Gugelmin, who guided a Mercedes to victory at Vancouver in 1997. Honda has also won the past four FedEx Championship Series events contested on the streets of Long Beach as it powered Jimmy Vasser (1996), Alex Zanardi (1997 and '98) and Juan Montoya, last year, to victory.

* Michael Andretti's next triumph will allow him to set a CART record for most seasons with at least one race victory. Andretti (Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola) is currently tied for the top spot with Rick Mears, each with 12 seasons with at least one victory. Andretti begins his 17th season of FedEx Championship Series competition this weekend.

* Walker Racing announced Monday that Bryan Herta, a seven-year veteran of the FedEx Championshp Series, will substitute for injured rookie driver Shinji Nakano in the team's Avex Honda Reynard at both this weekend's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and the April 30 Rio 200 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Nakano is recovering from several small brain bruises sustained in a March 31 testing accident at The Milwaukee Mile. He is currently under the care of neurologist Dr. Terry Horner, in consultation with Dr. Steve Olvey, CART Director of Medical Affairs. Herta, who remains under contract to Forsythe Championship Racing, has been loaned to Walker Racing for the next two FedEx Championship Series events.

"Bryan is a winner and was a natural choice to use as a substitute driver for Shinji," team owner Derrick Walker said. "We were very fortunate to be able to find a driver of his caliber who was also available. We owe Forsythe Racing, and Gerald Forsythe in particular, for allowing us to use Bryan." Herta has made 94 career starts in a FedEx Championship Series career that began in 1994 and it has been highlighted by two wins, seven poles and nine podium finishes. Two of those podiums, back-to-back third-place finishes in 1998 and last year, have come at Long Beach. He also won the pole at the venue in 1998.

"I was definitely itching to get back in the car," Herta said. "So when Derrick presented me with this opportunity, it was a good chance for me to do some competitive racing while giving the Forsythe team some time to sort out its situation. I'm grateful to Derrick and Gerald for allowing me this opportunity and at the same time I wish Shinji the best in his recovery and I look forward to turning the car back to him in good condition."

* The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach also marks the debut of a new team entry in the FedEx Championship Series and the return of a young and promising driver. Swift Engineering has entered a Panasonic-sponsored Swift that will be driven by Brazilian Tarso Marques. Marques made six starts for Marlboro Team Penske during his rookie season last year, with a top start and finish of eighth and ninth, respectively, at Rio de Janeiro. He also started 19th and finished 25th at Long Beach. The power plant for the Swift entry has yet to be announced.

* Dale Coyne Racing announced at Nazareth that Panasonic would be sponsoring the Ford Lola driven by Gualter Salles in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and the Rio 200. Panasonic's sponsorship is a renewed relationship. The team campaigned a car for Panasonic and driver Hiro Matsushita in 1996. "I am happy that Panasonic will be supporting us at Long Beach," said Salles, whose career-best qualifying effort of fourth, came at the venue in 1998. "We hope to give them a very strong showing at a track where we have a good history."

* The CART Hi-Tech Forum will conduct its inaugural meeting Saturday from 4-5 p.m. in the Ballroom Foyer of the Long Beach Convention Center. All sponsors and supporters from the CART community who are involved in a high-tech industry are invited to attend the executive-level mixer, which has been scheduled to provide networking opportunities for the numerous high-tech partners of the FedEx Championship Series. For further information, contact Wes Simpson at the CART offices, (248) 362-8800 or at wsimpson@cart.com .

* CART Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Andrew Craig will be a featured speaker at "Sport Business 2000: A Century of Progress of Future of Promise" being held Thursday through Saturday at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London. Craig will participate in a panel discussion, "Financing Sport's Development," Thursday morning. Other participants will include Charles Aster, Partner at Coudert Brothers, New York; Adam Shutkever, Managing Director of the Consumer and Leisure Group, Deutsche Bank AG; Charles Tate, Partner at Hicks, Muse, Tate and Furst; and Darren Venn, Consultant at ENIC. The panel will be moderated by Fred Kempe, Editor and Associate Publisher of the Wall Street Journal, Europe.

* CART's website, www.cart.com, received 635,920 total visits during the month of March, an increase of 22 percent over March of 1999, when the site recorded 521,902 visits. The site also hosted 247,025 unique visitors, an increase of 68 percent over the February total of 146,757 unique visitors. The average visitor spent 6.78 minutes on the site during the month of March and viewed 4.93 pages per visit. The information was provided to Quokka Sports, official Internet provider of CART, by Accrue software.

ON THE AIR

* Pole qualifying for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach airs 1 a.m. ET Sunday on ESPN2. "CART 2Day" airs 10:30 a.m. ET Sunday on ESPN2 while ESPN's one-hour tape-delayed broadcast begins 5 p.m. ET Sunday.

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gualter Salles , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Adrian Fernandez , Tarso Marques , Dario Franchitti , Alex Zanardi , Mauricio Gugelmin , Bryan Herta , Shinji Nakano , Rick Mears , Gerald Forsythe , Dale Coyne
Teams Team Penske , Dale Coyne Racing