CHAMPCAR/CART: Vancouver Pre Race Notes

* Rookie Juan Montoya (Target Honda Reynard) has won the past two FedEx Championship Series events to move back into the lead in the championship points race. With consecutive victories at Mid-Ohio and Chicago, Montoya moved back ahead of Dario...

* Rookie Juan Montoya (Target Honda Reynard) has won the past two FedEx Championship Series events to move back into the lead in the championship points race. With consecutive victories at Mid-Ohio and Chicago, Montoya moved back ahead of Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard), who had interrupted Montoya's nine-week stay atop the point standings following his victory at Detroit and maintained a slim, one-point advantage following Mid-Ohio. Montoya travels to Vancouver with 172 points, four more than Franchitti (168). Montoya also owns five podium finishes in his last eight starts, with victories at Cleveland, Mid-Ohio and Chicago and runner-up efforts at Portland and Michigan.

* Franchitti leads the FedEx Championship Series with nine podium finishes, including four in the past five events. The run includes victories at Toronto and Detroit, third at Mid-Ohio and a runner-up effort at Chicago. He has been on the podium in six of his last seven starts on temporary street circuits, dating to his victory at Vancouver last year.

* Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard) owns podium finishes in four of his past five starts in the FedEx Championship Series, with runner-up performances at Toronto, Detroit and Mid-Ohio and a third-place finish at Michigan. He has scored PPG Cup points in eight of his past nine series starts, dating to his victory at Milwaukee. The streak ended with a 23rd-place finish at Chicago. Tracy stands fourth in the championship with 122 points.

* Max Papis (Miller Lite Ford Reynard) has scored PPG Cup points in six of his past eight starts, dating to an eighth-place finish at Portland. He comes to Vancouver off a fourth-place finish at Chicago, which matched a career best established at Rio de Janeiro earlier this season. Papis, who also earned his first career FedEx Championship Series pole position at Chicago, has finished fifth or better in seven of 15 starts this season, including six of the past 12, and stands ninth in the championship with 91 points.

* Helio Castro-Neves (Hogan Motor Leasing, Inc. Mercedes Lola) has finished seventh or better in his past three FedEx Championship Series starts. The streak includes back-to-back sevenths at Detroit and Mid-Ohio, his career-best finishes on road or street circuits, and fourth at Chicago.

* Al Unser Jr. (Marlboro Mercedes Lola) owns four career victories at Vancouver (1990, '93, '94 and '95) and has never finished lower than fifth in nine career appearances at the venue. In addition to his four victories, he also owns podium finishes of third in 1991 and second in '92. He has qualified 22nd and finished fifth in each of the past two FedEx Championship Series events at Vancouver, accounting for the largest improvement from start to finish in the field on each occasion.

* Michael Andretti (Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Swift) owns three of his FedEx Championship Series- leading 38 career victories in eight starts at Vancouver (1991, '92, '96). He is the only driver in the history of the event to have won from the pole, in 1991 and '92, and he also recorded podium finishes of second last year and third in '94. Andretti has led at least one lap in six of eight starts at Vancouver and is CART's career laps-led leader at the venue with 321, topped by 97 in 1992.

* Gil de Ferran (Valvoline/Cummins Special Honda Reynard) owns top-four finishes in three of four career starts at Vancouver, including podium performances of second in 1995 and third in '97. He also finished fourth in 1996.

* Mauricio Gugelmin (Hollywood PacWest Mercedes) has finished sixth or better in three of six career starts at Vancouver, site of his only career FedEx Championship Series victory in 1997. The run also includes finishes of fifth in 1994 and sixth in last year.

* Scott Pruett (Pioneer/MCI WorldCom Toyota Reynard) has recorded four top-six finishes in six career starts at Vancouver, topped by a podium result of third last year. The run also includes finishes of fifth in 1991, fourth in '92 and sixth in '95.

* Juan Montoya's victory at Chicago clinched Reynard's fifth consecutive FedEx Championship Series Constructor's Championship. Montoya's triumph, Reynard's 13th in 15 events this season, gave Reynard an insurmountable 314-187 lead over second-place Swift, with a maximum of 110 points available in the season's final five events. Reynard, which entered the FedEx Championship Series in 1994, has received victorious performances from seven different drivers this season, including Montoya, Dario Franchitti, Paul Tracy, Gil de Ferran, Greg Moore (Player's Forsythe Racing Team Ltd. Mercedes Reynard), Adrian Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford Reynard) and Tony Kanaan (McDonald's Championship Racing Team Honda Reynard). Reynard has swept the podium in seven of 15 FedEx Championship Series events this season, including each of the past four.

* Honda brings a two-year run of dominance on FedEx Championship Series street circuits into this weekend's Molson Indy Vancouver. Honda-powered drivers have won the past 11 FedEx Championship Series events contested on road or street courses, dating to the start of the 1998 season. The streak includes victories last year by Alex Zanardi at Long Beach, Detroit, Cleveland, Toronto and Australia; Franchitti at Vancouver and Houston; and this year by Montoya at Long Beach and Cleveland and Franchitti at Toronto and Detroit. The last non-Honda-powered driver to win a FedEx Championship Series street race was Mauricio Gugelmin, who piloted a Mercedes to victory at Vancouver in 1997.

* Firestone has won 14 of 15 FedEx Championship Series events contested this season and 32 of 33 overall, dating to Fernandez' victory at Japan last year.

* Andrea Montermini returns to the FedEx Championship Series this weekend for the first time since 1994 as driver of the #36 AAR Denso/Castrol Toyota Eagle for All American Racers. Montermini made a combined 11 FedEx Championship Series starts during the 1993 and '94 seasons, with a top finish of fourth at Detroit in 1993. In his most recent start, he finished ninth in the 1994 season finale at Laguna Seca. Molson Indy Vancouver During his absence from the series, Montermini has competed in the Formula One and World Sports Car ranks, and has served as the lead driver of the Nissan which has finished sixth in each of the past two Le Mans 24-hour races. Earlier this year, Montermini conducted a two-day test session of the Lola T-99 chassis for Bettenhausen Motorsports.

* With five races remaining in the FedEx Championship Series season, the team from United States has some work to do if it hopes to continue as the only team ever to win the Nation's Cup. The U.S. currently stands third among the 11 countries competing for this year's title with 191 points. Brazil leads with 213 points, followed by Canada with 193. Points in the Nation's Cup competition are scored according to the same scale used to determine the PPG Cup winner (20-16-14-12-10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1), but only the highest-finishing driver representing a given nation scores at any event. Single points are also awarded to the nation whose driver wins the pole position or leads the most laps. The Nation's Cup competition, which began in 1995, has been won by the United States in each of its previous four years of existence.

* With just over two weeks remaining in the voting for the MCI WorldCom Most Popular Driver Award, Juan Montoya holds a slim lead over Michael Andretti. Montoya has earned 2,142 of the 8,456 ballots cast, 97 more than Andretti, who stands second with 2,045 votes. Al Unser Jr. stands third with 793 votes, followed by Dario Franchitti (405) and Adrian Fernandez (398). Voting continues through Sept. 15 on both the CART and MCI WorldCom Internet websites ( www.cart.com or www.mciracing.com ) or fans may vote by completing the official entry forms found in Champ Car magazine, Championship Racing magazine, National Speed Sport News, Racer magazine and all FedEx Championship Series event programs through the Sept. 12 Champ Car event at Laguna Seca Raceway. One voter will be selected to receive a trip for two to Los Angeles to attend the season-ending Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota on Oct. 31, as well as the FedEx Championship Series awards banquet the following evening, where the contest winner will present a $25,000 check in the name of the winning driver to the driver's' charity of choice.

* Qualifying for the Molson Indy Vancouver will air 1:30 a.m. ET late Saturday/early Sunday on ESPN2. "CART 2Day" airs 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday on ESPN2, with ABC-TV's live race broadcast scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET.

-CART-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Max Papis , Adrian Fernandez , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Alex Zanardi , Tony Kanaan , Mauricio Gugelmin , Scott Pruett , Andrea Montermini , Greg Moore