Indy 300 at Surfers Paradise <pre> Date: Oct. 15, 2000 Broadcast: ESPN, 12 a.m. ET (Live) Race Length: 65 laps for 181.675 miles Track Length: 2.795-mile ...
Indy 300 at Surfers Paradise <pre> Date: Oct. 15, 2000 Broadcast: ESPN, 12 a.m. ET (Live) Race Length: 65 laps for 181.675 miles Track Length: 2.795-mile street course 1999 Winner: Dario Franchitti Toyota's Best Finish: 8th, Robby Gordon, 1999 Toyota's Best Qualifying: 3rd, Scott Pruett, 1999 Track Speed Records: Qualifying: 1999, Dario Franchitti, 109.724 mph Race: 1999, Dario Franchitti, 91.849 mph
Manufacturer Points: Ford 293; Honda 290; Toyota 257; Mercedes Benz 66
</pre> TOYOTA EYES THREE IN A ROW - After victories by Juan Montoya at Gateway and Jimmy Vasser in Houston, Toyota is looking for its third-consecutive FedEx Championship Series victory this weekend in Australia. The victory at Houston was the manufacturer's first on a road course and fifth of the season.
MONTOYA APPLYING PRESSURE - It may be too little, too late, but Juan Montoya has finished first and second in the last two races. The defending CART champion has three victories on the season and four podium finishes.
Looking ahead to Australia, Montoya has consistently run strong on the temporary downtown street circuits in 2000. He qualified on the pole and led 59 of the first 60 laps at Detroit before gear box woes. He also qualified third at Long Beach, fourth at Toronto, fifth at Vancouver and sixth at Houston on his way to a second-place finish.
VASSER ON A ROLL - Target Toyota driver Jimmy Vasser has been on a roll in the last five races beginning with Road America. The 1996 FedEx Series champion has five consecutive top-eight finishes including a win and a fifth. During that time frame, Vasser has scored 49 championship points, second only to Paul Tracy's 56. The former Toyota Atlantic ace has qualified in the top three at each of the last two races with a third at Houston and second at Gateway. For the season, Vasser has tied for the most top-10 finishes (13) in the series and ranks fourth overall in road course points.
BRIGHT TO MAKE CHAMP CAR DEBUT - Australian Jason Bright will make his Champ Car debut this weekend at Surfers Paradise in the DirecTV Toyota with Della Penna Motorsports. Bright has captured one victory (Portland) and five podium fnishes in Indy Lights competition.
While it's Bright's debut in Champ Cars, it's not his first time on the Surfers Paradise circuit. He won the Formula Ford support event there in 1995. Bright also was the 1997 Australian Formula 3000 (Holden) champion.
Memo Gidley is scheduled to return to the DirecTV Toyota for the season finale at Fontana on Oct. 29.
RICE CORONATED AS TOYOTA ATLANTIC CHAMP - Buddy Rice was honored as the 2000 Toyota Atlantic champion following the season finale at Houston. Rice won five of the 12 events and holds the distinction of finishing on the podium (top three) in every race he finished this season (10 of 12). Rice led more than 50 percent of the laps run this year. The Arizona-native has already tested with four-time FedEx Champion Target Chip Ganassi Racing for a possible seat in 2001.
Daniel Wheldon finished second in the championship and earned the series "Rookie of the Year" honors in the process. The 22-year-old had two wins and seven podium finishes.
Jim Aust, Toyota vice president of motorsports: "We've had such tremendous success on the ovals this year, it felt great to finally get our first road course victory in Houston. Now we're hoping to do it again in Australia. We ran extremely well at Surfers last year, so we have some confidence entering the event. After winning at Gateway and Houston, it certainly would be nice to end the season with four straight wins. It definitely won't be easy, but we've got a shot."