CHAMPCAR/CART: Denver: Pre-race notes, schedule

WHOS HOT Sebastien Bourdais ( ...

WHOS HOT

Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonalds Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) stretched his lead back out to a comfortable 31 points with his San Jose win. The Frenchman is the two-time defending winner in Denver and has never finished worse than second in his three Denver starts.

Oriol Servia (#6 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) has climbed into a tie for sixth in the points building momentum with six top-10 finishes in his last seven starts. He has also qualified in the top five in each of the last four events.

Will Power (#5 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) continues to impress and has built a 25-point lead in the Roshfrans Rookie-of-the-Year standings, far and away the largest lead of the season in the chase for the Jim Trueman Trophy. Power has four consecutive top-10 runs including sixth-place results in each of his last two starts.

Cristiano da Matta (#10 RuSPORT Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) recorded his best finish of the season with a second-place run in San Jose. After starting the event in the fourth position, da Matta had to hold off his teammate to secure a place on the podium. In his first appearance in Denver in 2002 the Brazilian qualified in seventh and finished the day on the podium. Da Matta will not compete in Denver due to serious injuries suffered in last week's test at Road America.

In San Jose, Charles Zwolsman (#34 Mi-Jack Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) led the first laps of his young Champ Car career when he spent five laps out in front of the field, before recording his fourth top-ten effort this season. Last year in Atlantic Series competition Zwolsman started the day in the third position before recording a podium finish.

Rookie contender Dan Clarke (#14 CTE Racing-HVM Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) brought the crowd to its feet in San Jose as he steadily moved up the running order in the opening laps of the race. When he wedged his way into second, Clarke immediately started turning laps as fast as Bourdais as he began eating into a 10-second lead. Unfortunately Clarke never saw the checkered flag as his car lost a gearbox on lap 50.

ON THE RIGHT TRACK

Although he has made just three of the four Champ Car starts in Denver, Bruno Junqueira has had the most success of any driver to compete on the 1.657-mile Denver street course. He has scored two wins and two poles in the Mile High City and has led in each of his three starts. He is the only driver in the race's four-year history to go wire-to-wire when he led all 100 laps in 2002. His 215 total laps led are the most in the event's history.

Last year's mistake that cost Paul Tracy (#3 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) was a rare occurrence for the series' winningest active driver, and was even more surprising when compared to previous Denver results. The Canadian has led 99 laps in Denver and had never finished worse than eighth before last season's crash while leading left his 16th. The holder of the track record in Denver, Tracy had improved his starting and finishing positions each year of the event until last year's race incident.

Mario Dominguez (#19 Sonny's Bar-B-Q Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) has improved both his starting and finishing positions in each of his previous four visits to Denver. Over the four years his starting spot has lowered from 16th in 2002 to third last year and his finishing position has improved incrementally from 14th in '02 to second last season.

A.J. Allmendinger (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) has historically been strong as well on the Denver course, never finishing out of the top five in three starts. His first visit to the course was in his title winning Champ Car Atlantic campaign in 2003 when he won Denver from the pole. He finished fifth in his rookie year and then scored a podium placing last season.

NOTEWORTHY

Oriol Servia has qualified in the top five for each of the last four events, the first time that a PKV Racing driver has ever accomplished that feat.

The Champ Car World Series crested the 1,000,000 mark in attendance for 2006 after drawing more than 155,000 fans in San Jose.

Paul Tracy's penalty of seven championship points stemming from an incident in San Jose made him the second driver this season to have points deducted from his total. Mario Dominguez also lost seven points for his actions in Milwaukee. This is the first time since 2000 (Oriol Servia, Michael Andretti) that two drivers have been penalized with the loss of points in the same season.

Seven different members of the 2006 driver lineup have earned podium finishes in Denver over the four-year event history. Only six of them will compete this weekend however, as Cristiano da Matta will miss the event after his accident at Elkhart Lake. Da Matta finished third in Denver during in his Champ Car title winning campaign of 2002

Justin Wilson leads the Bridgestone Passion For Excellence Award after nine races, pacing Will Power by 2.936 seconds. Wilson would be the first person other than Sebastien Bourdais to win the award in this, the fourth year that the honor has been given.

Bruno Junqueira's win in Monterrey last season gave him victories in each of his first five seasons as a Champ Car driver. A win this season would make the Newman/Haas Racing pilot the first driver since Bobby Rahal (1982-87) to earn wins in each of his first six years in the series.

In the Nation's Cup standings, Bourdais' win in San Jose pushed France out to a 27-point lead over England after nine events. The U.S., carried by lone American A.J. Allmendinger, is third, 17 behind England.

DID YOU KNOW?

Denver, the capital of Colorado, was established by a party of prospectors on November 22, 1858, after a gold discovery at the confluence of Cherry Creek and the South Platte River. Town founders named the dusty crossroads for James W. Denver, Governor of Kansas Territory, of which eastern Colorado was then a part. Other nicknames that Denver has includes The Rail City, for Denver's importance as a North American rail hub, and Capitol of the Rocky Mountain Empire, for Denver's "capitol" like status as a city in the Rocky Mountain region. Denver is one of the most isolated major cities in the United States, because of the 14,000-foot-high Rocky Mountain barrier just west of town, so it is easy to see why one of the town's main concerns is transportation. It is also a sprawling city in a state of long distances and mountainous obstacles, so to tackle long distances and tough terrain, Coloradans have become auto-dependent. Denver has one of the highest per-capita motor vehicle ownership rates in the country--with an average of one licensed vehicle for every man, woman and child.

BY THE NUMBERS

215 -- How many laps Bruno Junqueira has spent in the top spot in Denver. 59.432 -- The track record established in last year's qualifying session by Paul Tracy. 38 -- How many laps Sebastien Bourdais paced on the way to last year's victory on the streets of Denver. 31 -- How many markers Sebastien Bourdais is leading the points standings by. 9 -- Number of turns on the Denver course. 4 -- How many times the Newman/Haas Racing team has gone to Victory Lane in Denver. 1.657 -- The length of the Denver Street Course. 1 -- How many times a single driver has led every lap during the event (Bruno Junqueira, 2002).

FAST FACTS

WHAT: Grand Prix of Denver Sponsored by Bridgestone

WHERE: Denver, Colorado

WHEN: Friday--Sunday, August 11-13

SUPPORT EVENTS: Champ Car Atlantic, Formula BMW, SPEED World Challenge Touring, Vintage

CHAMP CAR SCHEDULE (All times local): FRIDAY, AUGUST 11 -- 9:15 - 9:55 a.m., Atlantic practice; 10:15 - 11:30 a.m., Champ Car practice; 1:15 - 1:45, Atlantic qualifying; 2:00 - 3:00 p.m., Champ Car qualifying. SATURDAY, AUGUST 12 - 8:45--9:15 a.m., Atlantic practice; 10:15--11:15 a.m., Champ Car practice; 1:15 - 1:45 p.m.; Atlantic qualifying; 2:00 - 3:00 p.m., Champ Car qualifying. SUNDAY, AUGUST 13 - 8:30 - 8:45 a.m., Atlantic warmup; 9:30 - 10:00 a.m., Champ Car warmup; 11:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.; Atlantic race; 1:45 p.m. GRAND PRIX OF DENVER SPONSORED BY BRIDGESTONE.

U.S. TELEVISION SCHEDULE (Eastern Time): SATURDAY, AUGUST 12 -- Champ Car qualifying highlight show, SPEED, 9:00 p.m.; SUNDAY, AUGUST 13 - Grand Prix of Denver Sponsored by Bridgestone, SPEED, 3:30 p.m. (Live)

2005 CHAMPION: Sebastien Bourdais
2005 POLESITTER: Paul Tracy

TRACK LAYOUT: 1.657-mile street course
RACE LENGTH: 97 laps (160.729 miles)

TRACK RECORDS: Qualifying (one lap) -- 2005, Paul Tracy, 59.432 seconds (100.370 mph). Race -- 2002, Bruno Junqueira, 1:49:22.547 (90.349 mph) based on 100 laps (164.700 miles)

RACE ROUND: 10 of 14 in the 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.

2006 CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES POINTS LEADERS: 1, Sebastien Bourdais, Newman/Haas Racing, 255; 2, Justin Wilson, RuSPORT, 224; 3, A.J. Allmendinger, Forsythe Championship Racing, 210; 4, Mario Dominguez, Dale Coyne Racing, 141; 5, Andrew Ranger, Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing, 135.

INSTANT REPLAY: Paul Tracy was the man to beat at the beginning of last year's Grand Prix of Denver but in the end, it was Sebastien Bourdais who took another step toward his second consecutive Champ Car title by winning at Denver for the second straight year. Tracy set a new track record in qualifying and paced 59 of the first 62 laps before an uncharacteristic mistake put him in the Turn Three fence, handing the lead to Bourdais. Knowing what to do with his gift, Bourdais roared away to lead the final 35 laps of the day, scoring the win by a cavernous 15 seconds over Mario Dominguez. The Mexican star set a season high by finishing second while American A.J. Allmendinger ended his day in the third spot. The middle of the pack saw a number of drivers make major gains as Rodolfo Lavin came from 13th on the grid to finish fifth, Ryan Hunter-Reay went from 17th to sixth and Ronnie Bremer climbed from 16th to seventh.

-credit: ccws

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Michael Andretti , Bruno Junqueira , Bobby Rahal , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Mario Dominguez , Sébastien Bourdais , A.J. Allmendinger , Rodolfo Lavin , Ronnie Bremer , Andrew Ranger , Charles Zwolsman , Will Power , Cristiano da Matta , Dan Clarke
Teams Conquest Racing