CHAMPCAR/CART: Toyota Texas fast facts

<pre> Firestone Firehawk Texas 600 Presented by Pioneer TOYOTA FAST FACTS Date: April 29, 2001 Broadcast: ESPN, 3 p.m. ET (Live) Race Length: 240 laps for 360 miles Track Length: ...

<pre> Firestone Firehawk Texas 600 Presented by Pioneer

TOYOTA FAST FACTS

Date:                       April 29, 2001
Broadcast:                  ESPN, 3 p.m. ET  (Live)
Race Length:                240 laps for 360 miles
Track Length:               1.5-mile, tri-oval
2000 Winner:                First-year event
Toyota's Best Finish:       First-year event
Toyota's Best Qualifying:   First-year event

Track Speed Records: Qualifying: First-year event Race: First-year event

Manufacturer's Championship: 1. Honda 38 2. Toyota 37 3. Ford 14 4. Phoenix 0 </pre> What to look for at Texas:

TOYOTA OFF TO BEST CHAMP CAR START EVER - After a win and a second place finish in the season's first two races, Toyota is off to its best-ever start to a Champ Car season in 2001. The 37 manufacturer's points earned to date are 11 better than its previous best start of 26 after two races last season.

VASSER LOOKS TO FINISH TEXAS TWO-STEP - After winning last season's Texaco Grand Prix of Houston, Jimmy Vasser will be looking to complete his version of the Texas Two-Step in CART's next trip to the Lone Star State with the Firestone Texas 600, April 29. Vasser drove a Target Chip Ganassi Toyota to victory at Houston. This year he's campaigning a Toyota for Patrick Racing. To date, his move has paid dividends as the Calilfornia-native already has earned two top-six finishes this season. He's coming off a top-five finish at Long Beach. The 1996 CART champion currently stands fifth in the FedEx Championship Series points race.

DA MATTA TAKES POINTS LEAD TO TEXAS - Cristiano da Matta (Texaco/Havoline Toyota) will bring his CART points lead into Dallas after winning the season-opening race in Monterrey, Mexico, and then registering a second-place finish at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Da Matta is one of three drivers to qualify in the front two rows in each race with a second at Monterrey and a fourth at Long Beach.

DA MATTA, TOYOTA GROW TOGETHER - Cristiano da Matta replaced Michael Andretti at Newman/Haas Racing this season after two seasons with Precision Preparation Inc., but one thing that hasn't changed for da Matta is the Toyota engine he's campaigned since his first season in Champ Car racing in 1999.

Da Matta, the 1998 Indy Lights champ, has watched his CART career grow simultaneous with the Toyota engine program. In his first season, he established new Toyota-bests for race finish and qualifying. Last year, he earned his first CART victory in the same season that Toyota's Made-in-the- U.S.A. engine picked up its first wins. This season, both da Matta and Toyota are pursuing their first CART championships with both having led the series point standings for the first time ever.

The latest Toyota engine, the Costa Mesa, Calif.-designed and built Toyota RV8F, will be looking for its second CART victory in three races after da Matta won the season-opening FedEx Championship Series event at Monterrey, Mexico. The Toyota RV8F joins its predecessor, the Toyota RV8E, as the only U.S. designed and built engines to win CART events in the last 20 years. The RV8F went from design board in Feb.2000, to the dynamometer by August, onto the race track for testing in November and the Monterrey Winner's Circle in March 2001. After 19 years without a victory by an engine designed and built in the United States, the Toyota RV8E won 2000 CART events at Milwaukee, Michigan, Chicago, St. Louis and Houston.

TOYOTA LOOKS TO CONTINUE OVAL DOMINANCE - Toyota's Champ Car program heads to Dallas looking to continue a string of dominance on oval tracks that has seen the manufacturer win four of the last four CART oval races. Toyota won four consecutive oval races at Milwaukee, Michigan, Chicago and St. Louis before seeing its string stopped at Fontana last fall. The only driver/team to interrupt the streak was Christian Fittipaldi and Newman/Haas - who now race for Toyota. Apparent victories at Nazareth and Motegi also slipped away due to fluke incidents.

TOYOTA ROOKIES MATURING QUICKLY AT TOP OF TRUEMAN STANDINGS - Twenty-year-old Scott Dixon became the first rookie to lead a lap in 2001 after he took the point position for 14 laps at Monterrey. Yet, despite his impressive beginning, the 2000 Indy Lights champion is still behind his three fellow Toyota rookies in the race for the Jim Trueman Award as CART's top rookie. Nicolas Minnassian has earned points in each of his first two races with an eighth and an 11th for seven points - the tops among rookies. He's followed by Target Chip Ganassi teammate Bruno Junqueira, who has four points after a ninth at Long Beach, and Walker Racing's Tora Takagi who registed a 10th in his first start with Toyota at Monterrey, Mexico.

Quotes:

Jim Aust, Toyota vice president of motorsports: "We're off to a great start in 2001 with a first and second on the two road courses. Now, we hope to prove that the Toyota RV8F is just as capable on the high-speed banks of Texas. A year ago, we enjoyed our greatest success on the oval tracks with four victories, including one 500-mile race, so we know that we're very capable. The flat-out nature of the race track over 600 kilometers is really going to be a challenge on the engines, but I think it's going to be a tremendous show for the fans."

-TM-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Bruno Junqueira , Christian Fittipaldi , Scott Dixon , Tora Takagi , Chip Ganassi , Cristiano da Matta