CHAMPCAR/CART: Denver: Rocketsports Racing preview

No. 8 Alex Tagliani No. 17 Guy Smith DENVER, Colo. (August 11, 2004) -- Coming off their first victory, the sophomore Rocketsports Champ Car team couldn't get much higher as they head to the Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver for Round Nine...

No. 8 Alex Tagliani
No. 17 Guy Smith

DENVER, Colo. (August 11, 2004) -- Coming off their first victory, the sophomore Rocketsports Champ Car team couldn't get much higher as they head to the Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver for Round Nine of the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered By Ford. With a boost of enthusiasm from Tagliani's first win and a top-ten finish for rookie, Guy Smith, the Michigan-based team looks to continue with a strong finish on the challenging Denver street course.

Alex Tagliani in the No.8 Johnson Controls Lola has 153 points to build on, and secure his hold on third or better in the Champ Car World Series standings. With one top-ten finish in two Denver starts, Tagliani is familiar with the grueling Denver street course, and expects the experience gained on the many street courses on the Champ Car schedule will prove valuable in Sunday's race.

"We (Rocketsports) have been developing our set up program to get the best from the No.8 Johnson Controls car, and we're meeting our goals with top-five and podium finishes, and our first win. We're in a great position to keep ourselves in the top of the Champ Car World Series ranking and we'll be concentrating on another strong finish, but Denver's a tough course," warned Tagliani.

"We'll be using the Bridgestone Potenza street tires, which are best for gripping the changing surfaces of the city streets. It's a real test for the engineers to gage tire pressures with the surface and temperature changes, but we've accumulated data from the past street races and we had a fast car in Vancouver, so we're confident going into Denver. There are also slight changes made to the course, which will create a new challenge for the drivers and make it an exciting race to watch.

"Heading into the Grand Prix of Denver with a great boost of confidence coming off my first win (at Road America) will also make it different," added Tagliani. "It was the first win for the Rocketsports Champ Car team, and an unforgettable team effort, with excellent strategy, hard work and a bit of luck. Road America taught the team that if we stay focused and work closely, we can achieve great things. The excitement gives us all a new perspective going to the Denver street course and a boost to the rest of the season."

Guy Smith, notorious for his 2003 Le Mans 24 Hours victory with team Bentley, made his Champ Car debut last weekend and managed an impressive top-ten finish in the No.17 Rocketsports Lola. The young Englishman, will race his first Champ Car street course, but should feel comfortable on the tight city streets, drawing on his extensive experience in European sportscars.

"The Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver will be my first race in Denver and on a street course in a Champ Car," admitted Smith. "I expect it'll be physically challenging with the altitude and humidity adjustments, but I've continued my training routine and know what I must improve to meet the demands of a Champ Car. I plan to build my strength and confidence on the track and keep working with my engineer, Alain Clarinval, on the set up of the Lola. I was a little apprehensive about driving the Champ Car before the Road America race, but with my first outing behind me, I now know what to expect, and look forward to the next race.

"The street course will present new challenges and will be altogether different, with less grip and lower downforce than the road course, but I'm confident that my team and I will do well. The No. 17 Rocketsports crew built a good car when they were on the Vancouver street course, and had some of the fastest pit stops in Road America, so I'm sure of them and feel great about our prospects for Denver and the rest of the season," determined Smith.

Catch the Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver on Spike TV at 4:00 PM (ET), Sunday August 15, 2004.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Guy Smith , Alex Tagliani