CHAMPCAR/CART: Toyota Mid-Ohio fast facts preview

CHAMPCAR/CART: Toyota Mid-Ohio fast facts preview
Aug 7, 2001, 5:35 AM

MILLER LITE 200 - Mid-Ohio Date: August 12, 2001 Broadcast: ESPN, Noon ET (Live) Race Length: 82+ laps for 186.447 miles Track Length: 2.258-mile road ...

MILLER LITE 200 - Mid-Ohio

 Date: August 12, 2001 
Broadcast: ESPN, Noon ET (Live)
Race Length: 82+ laps for 186.447 miles
Track Length: 2.258-mile road course
 2000 Winner: Helio Castroneves 
Toyota's Best Finish: 9th, Cristiano da Matta, 1999
Toyota's Best Qualifying: 7th, Cristiano da Matta, 2000

Track Speed Records:
Qualifying: 2000, Gil de Ferran (124.394 mph)
Race: 1994, Al Unser Jr. (110.770 mph)

Manufacturer's Championship: 1. Honda 190 2. Ford 171 3. Toyota 166

What to look for at Mid-Ohio:

DIXON'S CHAMPIONSHIP RUN PUTS HIM IN ELITE COMPANY - Just a week after his 21st birthday, Scott Dixon moved into sixth-place overall in the FedEx Championship Series points race with a fourth at Chicago. Dixon currently sits just four points out of fourth overall with 69 championship points and has run away with the CART Rookie of the Year race - leading the competition by 42 points.

Dixon turned heads after he became the youngest driver ever to win a major open-wheel race at Nazareth. Since that race, he's shown that his victory was no fluke with a third-place podium finish at Milwaukee, two more top-five finishes at Toronto (fifth) and Chicago (fourth), and seven top-10 finishes in his last eight races. Not only has the first-year CART pilot been fast, but he's been consistent as shown by his completing more laps than any other driver in the series.

The 2000 Indy Lights champion's rookie campaign has put him in special company. In just half a season with PacWest, he's already scored more points than all but six rookies have done in their entire rookie seasons over the past 10 years. Only Juan Montoya, Alex Zanardi, Nigel Mansell, Kenny Brack, Jacques Villeneuve and Greg Moore scored more than Dixon's current total of 69 points as rookies - and three of those drivers (Mansell, Zanardi and Brack) were already veterans in other major open-wheel circuits.

GIDLEY ESTABLISHING HIMSELF AMONG CART'S FINEST - After two-and-a-half years of serving as CART's "pinch-hitter," Memo Gidley has quickly established himself as a prime-time player in his short stint with Target Chip Ganassi Racing. After being taken out by another driver on the first lap of his first race with the Target team, the California native has led three of the last four races and earned a pair of top-five finishes, including a career-best second at Cleveland. Gidley almost made it a pair of runner-up finishes at Chicago, but he lost his potential second-place finish when he was boxed in by lapped traffic on a late re-start, which dropped him to his eventual fifth-place finishing position.

In his past four starts, Gidley has led 135 laps - good for fifth overall in the series. More impressive is that Gidley was not able to test a single lap this past off-season. In fact, he hadn't been in a Champ Car since Oct. 30 before climbing into his Toyota Lola for practice at Portland on June 22 - a span of 234 days, or approximately eight months.

FITTIPALDI BACK FROM "THE PACK" - Instead of flying south to Miami after the Chicago race, Kmart Toyota driver Christian Fittipaldi flew north to Green Bay to promote the upcoming Motorola 220 at Road America. While in Green Bay, Fittipaldi found time to head over to the Green Bay Packers training camp and spent some time with star Packers quarterback Brett Favre, as well as having a conversation with Green Bay head coach Mike Sherman. The conversation revolved around racing rather than roll-outs as Favre also is the part-owner of a Busch Grand National stock car. Fittipaldi extended an invitation for Favre and some of the Packers to attend the upcoming race at Elkhart Lake, while Favre and the Packers invited Fittipaldi to attend their Monday night exhibition game the day after the race.

THREE TOYOTA DRIVERS IN TOP 10 - Three Toyota drivers are currently in the top-10 of the CART FedEx Championship Series points race. Scott Dixon is sixth (see above), while Cristiano da Matta sits in seventh-place - two behind Dixon and just six out of fourth-place. Jimmy Vasser also ranks among the top 10 with 50 points - good for 10th overall.


JIM AUST, Toyota vice president of motorsports: "After six races in the past seven weeks, it was nice for the TRD staff and our teams to get back home for a few days and get a little rest. We ran very strong at Portland - the only permanent road course we've run on this season - so we're confident that we've got a great shot to get back into the winner's circle at Mid-Ohio. One thing is for sure, there will be some great, competitive racing."

-Toyota Motorsports

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