CHAMPCAR/CART: Toytoa to be strong at Cleveland

Date: July 2, 2000 Broadcast: ABC, 1:00 p.m. EDT Race Length: 100 laps for 210.600 miles Track Length: 2.106-mile road course 1999 Winner: Juan Montoya Toyota's Best Finish: 13th - ...

Date: July 2, 2000
Broadcast: ABC, 1:00 p.m. EDT
Race Length: 100 laps for 210.600 miles
Track Length: 2.106-mile road course
1999 Winner: Juan Montoya
Toyota's Best Finish: 13th - Cristiano da Matta, 1999
Toyota's Best Qualifying: 9th - Robby Gordon, 1999
Track Speed Records:
Qualifying: 1998, Jimmy Vasser, (134.385 mph)
Race: 1998, Alex Zanardi, (112.449 mph)
Manufacturer Points: Honda - 138; Ford - 136; Toyota - 118; Mercedes - 38

TARGET TEAM HITS MARK IN CLEVELAND - With three straight victories and four consecutive pole positions there's little doubt that Target Chip Ganassi Racing will be the one to beat at Cleveland. Juan Montoya was victorious at Cleveland last year, while Alex Zanardi won in 1997 and 1998. Montoya sat on the pole a year ago, with Jimmy Vasser earning pole positions in 1996 and 1998 and Zanardi in 1997. Vasser holds the track record for qualifying, while Zanardi has the race record.

PODIUM AWAITS DA MATTA - With two fourths and a fifth to date this season, a podium finish can't be far off for second-year Champ Car pilot Cristiano da Matta. The 1998 Indy Lights champion ran much of the race in either second or third at Portland before a late-race pit stop dropped him to a fifth-place finish. In addition, he was running in the top five at Detroit before mechanical woes sidelined him.

After earning the most top-10 qualifying efforts by a Toyota driver a year ago, da Matta has qualified his Pioneer Electronics Toyota in the top-10 for each of the past two road course events (sixth at Detroit, ninth at Portland). A year ago, da Matta was running in the top five at Cleveland when he crashed. This year, It might prove to be his break-through race .

KING OF THE ROAD? - In a series that features 14 past Champ Car winners, rookies are often overlooked, but it's becoming increasingly difficult to look past PPI's Oriol Servia. The first-year driver currently stands third among all drivers on road courses after three events, trailing only the two Penske drivers with 27 points. With a third-place podium finish at Detroit, a sixth at Long Beach and an eighth at Portland, Servia and Helio Castroneves are the only drivers in the series to finish in the top-eight in each road course event heading into Cleveland.

"MADE IN AMERICA" TOYOTA ENGINE LOOKS FOR CLEVELAND WIN - Toyota arrives in Cleveland looking to put its U.S.-designed and built RV8E Champ Car engine into the Winner's Circle for the second time this season. Before its victory at Milwaukee, only one other U.S.-designed and built engine had ever won in Champ Car competition.

LAPPING THE FIELD - With Juan Montoya leading the way, Toyota has led the most (45.6 percent) race laps run in Champ Car competition this season (542 of 1,187). Montoya has led 541 of the total series laps run - 379 more than the next closest driver with 164.

TOYOTA IN HUNT FOR MANUFACTURER'S TITLE - Heading into the ninth race of the season, Toyota continues to stay in the hunt for its first Champ Car Manufacturer's Championship - despite having only four cars running every event this season (in comparison, Ford has nine, Honda five). Toyota currently has 118 Manufacturer's Points this season, only 20 off the lead. Toyota's previous best total was 80 in 1999. The manufacturer has scored at least one fifth-place finish or better in every race this season.

Cristiano da Matta, #97 Pioneer Electronics/MCI WorldCom Toyota Reynard:
"We're becoming stronger and more consistent as the season progresses. We've run in the top five in each of the past two races. I think the easiest way to tell how far we've come in the last year is that I was a little disappointed with a fifth at Portland because we ran so much of the race in second and third. Last year, we would have been celebrating a fifth-place finish."

Oriol Servia, #96 Telefonica Toyota Reynard:
"I feel I'm learning a lot right now. I'm really happy that I've finished in the top-10 in every road course race. I think we have a very good car for road courses. We've been both fast and reliable. As we grow more comfortable with each other, we keep improving. And that's what we have to do - improve every week."

Servia is one of only two drivers to finish every road-course lap this season

Jim Aust, Toyota vice president for motorsports:
"I'm looking forward to Cleveland. It's fast, wide-open and great for passing. I think the longer straights and higher speeds favor our engine a little more than the slower tracks, so we should be in the fight. Everyone knows that Target Chip Ganassi Racing is one of the top teams in the sport, but I think that PPI, with Cristiano and Oriol, have been overlooked by some. They are showing that they can compete with anyone out there as well. Having two strong teams is really going to help us down the stretch."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby Gordon , Helio Castroneves , Jimmy Vasser , Alex Zanardi , Oriol Servia , Chip Ganassi , Cristiano da Matta
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing