Byline: Mike Harris The Associated Press
Canadian Greg Moore came into Champ Cars with enough skill to overcome his inexperience. Now in his fourth season, the 24-year-old driver is leading the CART FedEx Series points race along with a youth movement in America's premier open-wheel circuit.
It's not hard to figure out why. The words "promise" and "potential" no longer apply. They have been replaced by one that describes virtually every champion - consistent.
That's what car owner Jerry Forsythe was hoping for when Moore made the jump to his team in 1996 after dominating the developmental Indy Lights circuit.
"I'll never forget that first race," Forsythe said. "He was spectacular, driving the car into places that made me sick to my stomach. He made some mistakes that day, but I knew it was just a matter of time for a kid with that kind of talent."
Moore already has five career victories, including the season-opener this year in Homestead, Fla. But the British Columbian has considerable competition from the other young drivers.
Among them: 25-year-old Dario Franchitti of Scotland, a three-time winner last year as a rookie; 23-year-old rookie Juan Montoya of Colombia, who won Sunday in Long Beach, Calif., in only his third CART race; and 24-year-old Tony Kanaan of Brazil, who got his first career pole and led nearly half that race before an accident took him out.
"The talent pool we have in our series right now is better than it's ever been, from the oldest guy, Scott (Pruett), right down to Michel (Jourdain), the youngest guy (at 22)," Moore said. "It makes it tough because you're off half a second and you're in 16th place."
Pruett, at 39 the oldest driver in the series, isn't surprised to find himself surrounded by youthful talent.
"It's the way that racing is nowadays," he said. "The difference is now they have these series like Indy Lights and Toyota-Atlantic to get some recognition sooner."
Michael Andretti, the winningest active driver in the CART series, is showing no signs of letting up at age 36. But he, like other veterans, is being tested by the youngsters.
"It's so competitive, it's hard to stay at the top level," the 1991 series champion said. "When you get to a certain age, you start to slow down a little."
Andretti says the younger drivers have no such wor-ries, and that they're making the older ones more compet-itive.
"They just want to go fast," he said. "And they make you go fast to keep ahead of them."
Moore was fast from the beginning and has added consistency to his game.
Since winning the opening race, Moore has finished fourth in Japan and eighth in Long Beach. He holds a six-point lead over Adrian Fernandez and Gil de Ferran.
Moore didn't get much advice from other drivers at first, but he understands if they were reluctant to help a talented youngster. So, Moore watched Andretti, two-time champion Al Unser Jr., and other veterans.
"I learned that you have to be there at the end," he explained. "Look at Al my first year in '96, I think third was the highest he finished and he was a title contender until Vancouver, the second-to-last race.
"You think to yourself, `How does he do that?' "
chart - AP