The Callahan Report: CART Preview; Fed Ex Delivers a Fast Product
7 May 1998
By Terry Callahan
The Auto Channel
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL: Federal Express is in the shipping business. This weekend, they will be shipping the motorsports leg of their company to sunny Brazil. Don't try to get a tracking number because the merchandise will be moving too fast to track.
The race in Brazil is an appropriate stop on the CART championship circuit. Six of the 29 drivers entered in the race are natives of this South American country. Those natives have proven that there are benefits to having a home crowd. Last year, Mauricio Gugelmin and Roberto Moreno, both from Brazil, occupied the front row for the race. The crowd showed emotion for their countrymen that was similar to cheers observed only at Daytona and Indy. Racing is THE sport in Brazil.
The track requires the drivers to use many skills. They will run at speeds of 200 mph down the straightaways and then downshift three times to a snake's pace of 100 mph entering the turns. The drivers who can master super-speedways AND road courses will shine.
Who will do well in Brazil? Tough question. The Player's/Indeck Reynard Mercedes driven by Greg Moore could be the biggest threat on Sunday. Moore is becoming a master on any circuit he faces. He finished second here last year after starting eighth. Moore could be ready to move last year's finish up a notch in Brazil.
Greg Moore favored in Brazil
Standing in Herta's way again will be the powerful and popular Alex Zanardi. The Chip Ganassi Target Racing team is fierce. The team notched their first ever one-two finish on a short oval in the last outing at Nazareth. Zanardi knows how to fly on this Brazilian circuit. He proved it last year. He started from deep in the field (26th) and charged to a fourth place finish. The team continues to get stronger as the season progresses. Zanardi could be unstoppable at this "driver's track."
The Pac-West team has struggled this season after finding great success just a year ago. There has to be good luck on the horizon. The darkhorse pick for Brazil has to be one of Brazil's favorite sons. Mauricio "Big Mo" Gugelmin knows the fast way around this track. His pole run last year is a testament to his driving skills. Gugelmin could finally break the Pac West bad luck and pull into victory lane this Sunday.
Although the race starts at 11:00 a.m. Eastern time this Sunday, the television audience will not view the race until 3:30 p.m on a tape delay basis. ABC television will provide the race coverage.
Callahan's Picks for Brazil:
1. Greg Moore
2. Bryan Herta
3. Alex Zanardi
4. Paul Tracy
5. Bobby Rahal
Darkhorse: Mauricio Gugelmin
Callahan's Picks Last Race:
1. Paul Tracy (finished 5th)
2. Michael Andretti (finished 18th, crashed)
3. Al Unser, Jr. (finished 15th, never a threat)
4. Adrian Fernandez (finished last, crashed on lap 1)
5. Bryan Herta (finished 8th)
Darkhorse: Jimmy Vasser (finished 1st)
Agree or disagree? Send you comments to Terry Callahan at The Auto Channel.
Official Entry List for Brazil:
No Driver (Country) Car 1 Alex Zanardi (Italy) Target Reynard Honda 2 Al Unser, Jr. (USA) 98 Marlboro Penske Mercedes 3 Andre Ribeiro (Brazil) 98 Marlboro Penske Mercedes 5 Gil de Ferran (Brazil) Valvoline/Cummins Special 6 Michael Andretti (USA) Kmart/Texaco/Havoline 7 Bobby Rahal (USA) Miller Lite 8 Bryan Herta (USA) Shell 9 J.J. Lehto (Finland) Hogan Motor Leasing, Inc. 10 Richie Hearn (USA) Budweiser/Ralphs Swift Ford 11 Christian Fittipaldi (Brazil) Kmart 12 Jimmy Vasser (USA) Target Reynard Honda 15 Mimmo Schiattarella (Italy) Hawaiian Tropic 16 Helio Castro-Neves (Brazil) Alumax Aluminum 17 Mauricio Gugelmin (Brazil) Hollywood PacWest Mercedes 18 Mark Blundell (England) Motorola PacWest Mercedes 19 Michel Jourdain, Jr. (Mexico) Herdez/Viva Mexico 20 Scott Pruett (USA) Visteon 21 Tony Kanaan (Brazil) LCI Reynard Honda 24 Robby Gordon (USA) Panasonic-Duskin-Reynard-Toyota 25 Max Papis (Italy) MCI Racing Reynard-Toyota 26 Paul Tracy (Canada) KOOL 27 Dario Franchitti (Scotland) KOOL 33 Patrick Carpentier (Canada) Player's/Indeck 34 Dennis Vitolo (USA) SmithKline Beecham 36 Alex Barron (USA) Castrol-Degree-Toyota Reynard 40 Adrian Fernandez (Mexico) Tecate/Quaker State/Labatt 77 Arnd Meier (Germany) BAAN Business Software/Total Tel 98 P.J. Jones (USA) Castrol-Degree-Toyota Reynard 99 Greg Moore (Canada) Player's/Indeck