Marlboro 500 Presented By Toyota Date: Nov. 4, 2001 Broadcast: ESPN, 3:30 p.m. EST (Live) Race Length: 250 laps for 507.250 miles Track Length: 2.029-mile oval ...
Marlboro 500 Presented By Toyota
Date: Nov. 4, 2001
Broadcast: ESPN, 3:30 p.m. EST (Live)
Race Length: 250 laps for 507.250 miles
Track Length: 2.029-mile oval
2000 Winner: Christian Fittipaldi
Toyota's Best Finish: 9th, Robby Gordon, 1998
Toyota's Best Qualifying: 1st, Scott Pruett, 1999
Track Speed Records:
Qualifying: 2000, A. Fernandez (171.666 mph)
Race: 2000, Gil de Ferran (241.428 mph)
Manufacturer's Championship: 1. Honda 332 2. Toyota 288 3. Ford 280
What to look for at Fontana:
TOYOTA LOOKS FOR SIXTH WIN AT FONTANA - After winning at Surfers Paradise with Cristiano da Matta behind the wheel, Toyota will look for a program-best sixth 2001 win this weekend at the Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota. So far this season, the manufacturer has won at Monterrey, Mexico, Nazareth, Elkhart Lake, Vancouver and Surfers Paradise, Australia. A win would give Toyota at least one victory on all four types of CART circuits - permanent road courses, street circuits, short ovals and superspeedways - this year. In addition, Toyota will be looking for its fourth win in the last eight CART events.
WINNING THE INTERNATIONAL WAY - With the victory the most recent Champ Car event in Australia, Toyota-powered cars have now won CART races in four different countries this season - Mexico, the United States, Canada and Australia.
THE MOST RECENT WINNER - Cristiano da Matta will arrive in Fontana on a winning note after being victorious at Surfers Paradise. It was da Matta's second win of the season and the third of his career - all three coming with Toyota power. The third-year Champ Car driver has now won on a short oval (Chicago), a permanent road course (Mexico), a street course (Australia) and will be looking to complete the "Grand Slam" with a superspeedway victory this weekend. Should he win, he'd join Michael Andretti, Jimmy Vasser and Adrian Fernandez as the only active CART drivers to win on all four types of circuits.
AND DEFENDING CHAMP - Christian Fittipaldi has his sights set on a second consecutive Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota victory this weekend after winning last year's event by just .194 seconds over fellow Toyota pilot Roberto Moreno. Fittipaldi isn't the only current Toyota driver to have won the California 500-miler, though, as Jimmy Vasser won the event in 1998. In addition, Mauricio Gugelmin won the inaugural Fontana pole in 1997.
TOYOTA TEAMS DOMINATE FONTANA - If past history is an indicator, it might be wise to bet on one of the Toyota-powered teams this weekend in the Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota. Each of the previous four California Speedway races have been won by teams currently using Toyota power. PacWest Racing in 1997 (Mark Blundell), Target Chip Ganassi Racing in 1998 (Jimmy Vasser), Patrick Racing in 1999 (Adrian Fernandez) and Newman-Haas Racing in 2000 (Christian Fittipaldi) are the only teams to win Champ Car events at Fontana and each currently uses a Toyota engine.
DIXON BECOMES YOUNGEST CART ROOKIE OF THE YEAR - Scott Dixon clinched the CART Rookie of the Year title at Surfers Paradise and became the youngest winner of the award in Champ Car history in the process. The 21-year-old New Zealander is completing just his third season in the U.S. after leaving the Australia Formula Holden ranks as an 18-year-old. On the way to the Jim Trueman Award as Rookie of the Year, Dixon became the youngest (20 years, nine months) winner in major open-wheel racing history when he was victorious at Nazareth in May. He also has five top-fives and 11 top-10 finishes in 19 races this season.
TOYOTA DRIVERS IN POINTS RACE - Two Toyota-powered drivers have already cemented spots in the top-10 in the final 2001 CART point standings and four more will head to Fontana hoping to join them. Cristiano da Matta and Scott Dixon, currently fifth and seventh, respectively, have secured their spots, but each will be looking to gain one more spot this weekend. Da Matta would need a victory to move into fourth, while Dixon is just five points behind sixth place.
On the other hand, Roberto Moreno and Jimmy Vasser are tied for 11th-place currently, just seven points behind 10th-place and only 14 points out of eighth. They aren't the only ones seeking a top-10 finish, though. Both defending race winner Christian Fittipaldi and Memo Gidley are still in the running, as well. Fittipaldi is currently 14th with 70 points, while Gidley sits in 15th with 65 points. Gidley would need a victory to have any hope of an overall top-10 finish, but his accomplishment is still impressive considering he's raced in only 13 races this season as he didn't join the Target Ganassi team until the seventh race of the year at Portland. Despite no pre-season testing, Gidley's scored the ninth-highest points total in the 13 races he's been with the team.
TOYOTA, FONTANA RELATIONSHIP DATES BACK TO DAY ONE - This year's Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota will mark the fifth straight year that Toyota will serve as the presenting sponsor of the Champ Car event at the California Speedway. The relationship between Toyota and the Speedway dates back to the facility's opening in 1997. Toyota and the California Speedway, along with Marlboro and CART combine their resources to offer $1 million to the Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota winner - the largest purse of any CART event.
Jim Aust, Toyota vice president of motorsports: "We were extremely happy to win last weekend in Surfers, but our celebration didn't last very long as TRD has been been back working hard in preparation for this week's Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota. With Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., and TRD both being located in Southern California, Fontana's obviously an important race for us.
In addition, a victory at Fontana would give us a race win on every type of CART circuit - road course, street course, short oval and superspeedway. That would be a tremendous accomplishment and show not only the diversity of the Toyota engine, but that of our teams and drivers as well."
- TOYOTA motorsports