Champ Car World Series Season Notebook
INDIANAPOLIS (November 15, 2005) -- What follows are a selection of notebook items concerning the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford upon the conclusion of the 2005 season.
Bourdais the Champ --When contending for a major title in auto racing consistency pays off. In 2005, Sebastien Bourdais recorded six wins on his way to his championship, but more important to his title hopes was what he did in the seven races that he did not win. He scored nine consecutive top-five finishes and completed more than 99 percent of the scheduled race laps this year. The Frenchman has earned podium finishes in 24 of his 45 career starts, a percentage unmatched in the history of the series. He is the eighth driver in the last 35 years to successfully defend his title and will look to match Ted Horn as the only man to ever win three consecutive Champ Car championships.
Champ Crowds Climb -- 2005 was a landmark season for Champ Car as it saw attendance numbers on the rise. This year a total of 1,961,917 fans attended Champ Car's three day festivals of speed. That makes for a per-event average of 150,679, setting a new series record. Seven of the thirteen events hosted more than 150,000 fans and attendance records were set in both Denver and Australia. New events in San Jose and Edmonton drew huge crowds, with Edmonton's three-day total topping the 200,000 mark.
Looking Ahead - In August Champ Car announced its 2006 season schedule, which will expand the series from this year's slate of thirteen races to fifteen. The newest race will be an exciting return to Houston, Texas in a race that takes place under the lights at Reliant Park, Saturday night, May 13. The announcement marks the return of Champ Car to the state of Texas and to the city of Houston that previously hosted the Champ Cars from 1998-2001. The 2006 schedule features a balance of traditional events along with a number of successful new sites that have shown great promise for the future.
TV Time -- Champ Car announced an improved television package for 2006, featuring seven events on network television. CBS Sports will air four consecutive events beginning with the June event in Portland while NBC will air events in Long Beach, San Jose and Montreal. Champ Car will enjoy a 40 percent increase of air time on SPEED Channel in 2006 as well, with the cable motorsports network broadcasting eight of the year's races as well as replays of each of the 15 events on the schedule.
RuSPORT on the Rise-- In its second year of Champ Car competition the RuSPORT team evolved from rookie team to victorious team. With sophomore Champ Car pilots Justin Wilson and A.J. Allmendinger behind the wheel, the team recorded two wins, three pole positions, and eight podium finishes. Both Wilson and Allmendinger ended the year in the top five in the point standings, marking just the second time in Champ Car history that a team has put two drivers in the top five in the final standings in its second year of existence.
Tracy Shows The Way -- Paul Tracy spent another season cementing his legacy as one of the top drivers in Champ Car history, joining Bourdais as the only driver to score multiple pole positions and race wins. He led a series-high 512 laps, hitting the 500-lap mark for the fourth time in his career. He scored his 30th race win this year and 25th pole, putting him seventh on the all-time list for both categories. Finished in the top five in the final standings for the eighth time in his 15-year career.
Premiere Event Success -- In 2005 the Champ Car World Series made stops in Edmonton, Canada and San Jose, California for the first time, with great success. The two inaugural events attracted a total of 353,819 fans into the stands for the race weekends. The event in Edmonton set a record for the highest-attended Champ Car race ever to be held in Canada with 200,052 in attendance despite day-long rains on Saturday of the event weekend.
Talent Pool Deepens -- The Champ Car World Series displayed one of its deepest and most talented fields in many years in the 2005 campaign with a solid mix of proven veterans, youngsters destined for stardom and promising rookies. In all, 12 different drivers earned podium finishes, 15 drivers led laps and 22 of the 29 drivers that made starts finished in the top 10 at least once.
Operating The Race -- A new, revamped Race Operations staff took over stewardship of Champ Car races this year and provided drivers and teams with fair, decisive and even-handed decision making in the heat of battle. Under the leadership of Tony Cotman, the Race Operations staff dealt with situations in a timely manner while showing the ability to change direction when the scenario warranted. From the decision to move starting cones in Cleveland to making adjustments in San Jose, or making key decision in race incidents, Champ Car Race Control provided solid rule enforcement in 2005.
Servia the Super Sub -- This season was one of firsts for Oriol Servia. Taking over the Newman/Haas seat in the #2 Pacificare car for the injured Bruno Junqueira, the native of Catalunya took full advantage of his opportunity. Servia broke though and recorded his first career win in Montreal in the 95th start of his series career and followed that by recording his first career pole position in Surfers Paradise. In his 11 starts in the NHR machine, Servia earned seven podiums and finished a career-best second in the points.
Glock's Rookie Rampage -- Going into 2005 there was a large pool of rookie talent vying for the Roshfrans Rookie-of-the-Year title, but by the end Timo Glock had swam his way to the top. In Long Beach the rookie caught everyone's eyes as he finished his first ever Champ Car race in the sixth position. Over the season the German was able to record nine top-ten finishes and was the top finishing rookie in six events. At the end of the season Glock led the rookie of the year point standings by sixty-two points and captured the eighth position in final points standings.
Newman/Haas Power -- Claiming the top-two positions in the points standings for the second year in the row, the Newman/Haas team has solidified their position as the team to beat in Champ Car competition. Bourdais's title this year is the sixth for Newman/Haas and its repeat of last year' 1-2 finish marked the first time in series history that a team has finished 1-2 in the final standings in consecutive seasons. Newman/Haas Racing scored seven wins and pole positions this season, raising the team's totals to 89 career victories and 93 pole positions.
France First -- For the first time in Champ Car history France took home the Nations Cup, hoisting the Cup on the shoulders of countrymen Sebastien Bourdais and Nelson Philippe. At the end of the season France won the 10th year of Nation's Cup competition by twenty-four points over Canada.
Aussies Amaze -- In 2005 Walker Racing not only expanded to a two car team, it also had quite a makeover changing the team name, adding new owners, and a new sponsor. The team transitioned to Team Australia with Craig Gore and John Fish joining Derrick Walker as owners with the goal of giving Australian drivers an opportunity in Champ Car racing. In its first year the team gave two Aussie drivers Marcus Marshall and Will Power a chance at the big time and also fielded a car for Toyota Atlantic Champion Charles Zwolsman to run his first Champ Car race. The standout of the team was adopted Aussie Alex Tagliani who scored two podium finishes, eight top-tens for the team and finished seventh in the point standings.
Landmark Races Reached -- This year two drivers reached landmark starts in their career. In Milwaukee Champ Car veteran Jimmy Vasser celebrated his 200th consecutive career start by winning the pole position, before bringing his car home in the top five. Canadian Alex Tagliani reached the mark of 100 consecutive career starts in Denver, where he celebrated with a top-ten start.
Youth Finds Podium -- Andrew Ranger has made only 13 starts in the Champ Car World Series but has already opened a lot of eyes. The young Canadians run to the podium in Monterrey, Mexico in only his second start made him the youngest driver to reach a Champ Car podium at 18 years, 6 months and 2 days. The rest of the 2005 season saw Ranger achieve six top-ten finishes, end the year second in the rookie points standings, and tenth in overall points standings.