Title wide open as teams head to Gateway

The Cart championship moves to the Gateway International Raceway this weekend for round 17 of the Champ Car series. The top six drivers in the standings are covered by just 17 points and with 10 different winners out of 16 rounds so far this season, picking a winner for Sunday's race isn't easy

Title wide open as teams head to Gateway

Gil de Ferran's second place at Laguna Seca last weekend gave the Brazilian the championship lead, six points clear of Michael Andretti, who in turn leads third-placed Paul Tracy by a further four points.

Patrick Racing's Adrian Fernandez is tied for fourth with Swede Kenny Bräck on 118 points after scoring yet again with a 12th place at Laguna Seca, taking the Mexican's run of points finishes to nine consecutive races.

Patrick Racing team mate Roberto Moreno slipped out of the top three in the championship race in Vancouver two weeks ago for the first time in 12 races and will be looking to move back up from his current sixth place this weekend.

"I like the Gateway International Raceway oval," said Moreno. "It is a bit different because you downshift twice. First when you enter turn one and then again entering turn three. That is a bit unusual for an oval."

Gil De Ferran's Penske team are clearly the outfit in form after scoring a one-two at Laguna Seca and also at Mid-Ohio last month. Helio-Castroneves took his third victory of the season last weekend, putting the 25-year-old in with a chance of taking the driver's title, albeit a mathematical one.

Penske cannot expect to enjoy the same domination at Gateway this weekend however, and have fallen down in the short oval races so far this year. Juan Pablo Montoya will be the man to beat to pole position round the 1.27-mile Illinois track. The Colombian has taken pole for all of the short oval races in 2000 and was easily fastest at Gateway last year, despite losing out to eventual winner Michael Andretti.

The Formula 1-bound Colombian has fallen out of the limelight in recent races and currently lies 11th in the championship, but the Chip Ganassi driver can take heart from the fact that his Toyota engine has been in the winning car at the last three oval races.

"We've been at our best on the ovals this season," said Jim Aust, Toyota's vice president of motorsports, "so we're really looking forward to arriving at Gateway and getting back on the right track. We've let a number of opportunities slip away this season, and it's important for us to try to get another one in the win column."

The action kicks off with first qualifying at 2100 BST on Friday evening and Sunday's race starts at 1930 BST. Autosport.com will be on hand with all the action and a live lap-by-lap report.


1 Gil de Ferran Penske 132 points
2 Michael Andretti Newman-Haas 126 pts
3 Paul Tracy Team Green 122 pts
4 Adrian Fernandez Patrick 118 pts
5 Kenny Brack Rahal 116 pts
6 Roberto Moreno Patrick 115 pts
7 Helio Castroneves Penske 103 pts
8 Dario Franchitti Team Green 92 pts
9 Jimmy Vasser Ganassi 89 pts
10 Cristiano da Matta PPI 88 pts
11 Juan Montoya Ganassi 85 pts
12 Max Papis Rahal 79 pts

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