TOYOTA motorsports 2001 CART FedEx Championship Series Shell 300 - Laguna Seca Raceway Date: October 14, 2001 Broadcast: ESPN, 4 p.m. ET (Live) Race Length: 83 laps for 185.754 ...
2001 CART FedEx Championship Series
Shell 300 - Laguna Seca Raceway
Date: October 14, 2001
Broadcast: ESPN, 4 p.m. ET (Live)
Race Length: 83 laps for 185.754 miles
Track Length: 2.238-mile road course
2000 Winner: Helio Castroneves
Toyota's Best Finish: 6th, Juan Montoya, 2000
Toyota's Best Qualifying: 5th, Juan Montoya, 2000
Track Speed Records:
Qualifying: 2000, Castroneves (118.969 mph)
Race: 1997, Jimmy Vasser (109.647 mph)
Manufacturer's Championship: 1. Honda 300 2. Toyota 250 3. Ford 246
What to look for at Monterey:
LOCAL HERO HEADS HOME ON A HIGH-NOTE - Memo Gidley (Target Toyota) is returning to his native northern California on a high note after earning his second podium finish of the season with a third at Houston. Gidley, from San Rafael, Calif., gained 20 positions on the way to his best finish since a career-best second at Cleveland. Few can claim a home course advantage like Gidley can at Laguna Seca. He began his racing career while serving as a mechanic at the Russell School at Laguna - trading mechanic services for seat time at the track.
PARITY THE RULE IN TOYOTA RANKS - Parity has been the word in the Toyota ranks this year as eight of the nine current Toyota drivers has finished fourth or better this year and all eight have had at least two finishes in the top six. In addition, four diferent Toyota drivers have victories in 2001 (Cristiano da Matta, Scott Dixon, Bruno Junqueira and Roberto Moreno).
TAKAGI ON THE RISE - After a crash course in U.S. racing, Tora Takagi (Pioneer Toyota) has emerged as one of the hottest drivers on the CART circuit as the FedEx Championship Series' closes out its 2001 campaign. Takagi earned a career-best fourth last weekend in Houston. The first-year Champ Car driver has now finished in the top seven in three of his last four races after a sixth at Germany and a seventh at Vancouver. Making Takagi's recent accomplishments even more impressive is that he'd never raced at any of the tracks on the CART circuit and has been hampered by a first-year rule that prohibits in-season testing. Takagi came to the Champ Car ranks after dominating the Japanese Formula Nippon (3000) series with eight wins in 10 races last season.
DA MATTA MAKING LATE SEASON PUSH - Cristiano da Matta (Texaco/Havoline/Kmart Toyota) is starting to show off the form that allowed him to hold the CART points lead through the season's first three races. The 1998 Indy Lights champion has registered a third (England) and a sixth (Houston) in his last two races to climb back up into the hunt for a spot in the top-five in points. Da Matta started the 2001 season off on a hot streak with a win at Monterrey, Mexico, and a second at Long Beach.
DIXON LOOKS TO CLINCH ROOKIE CROWN - Scott Dixon (Nextel/Powerware/Panasonic Toyota) can clinch the Jim Trueman Award as CART Rookie of the Year this weekend at Laguna Seca if he can gain nine points on his closest challenger, fellow Toyota pilot Bruno Junqueira. Dixon enters the weekend with an 86-50 advantage. Each entered the Champ Car ranks after winning their respective F3000-type championships last year after Dixon earned the Indy Lights title while Junqueira was the FIA Formula 3000 champion in Europe.
HAND ON A ROLL, ORSI HAS THE TITLE - Rookie Joey Hand enters the Toyota Atlantic Championship race this weekend on a roll after winning the last two races at Houston and Vancouver. Hand has clinched the series' Rookie of the Year award and established himself as possibly the leading contender for the 2002 series championship. Hoover Orsi has already wrapped up this year's crown and he'll be looking for the win this weekend after chasing Hand home in second at Houston.
JIM AUST, Toyota vice president of motorsports: "At this point, we've set our sights on matching and then surpassing the five wins Toyota had a year ago. We've run very well on road courses this year, so hopefully we'll earn number five at Laguna Seca. All nine of the Toyota-powered cars ran in the top 10 at one time or another last week, which should bode well for this weekend."