CHAMPCAR/CART: Edmonton: Newman/Haas Racing preview

INAUGURAL WEST EDMONTON MALL GRAND PRIX OF EDMONTON TO PROVIDE NEW CHALLENGE FOR NEWMAN/HAAS RACING AND REST OF CHAMP CAR FIELD EDMONTON, Alberta, Canada (July 13, 2005) --- This weekend's inaugural West Edmonton Mall Grand Prix of Edmonton will...

INAUGURAL WEST EDMONTON MALL GRAND PRIX OF EDMONTON TO PROVIDE NEW CHALLENGE FOR NEWMAN/HAAS RACING AND REST OF CHAMP CAR FIELD

EDMONTON, Alberta, Canada (July 13, 2005) --- This weekend's inaugural West Edmonton Mall Grand Prix of Edmonton will be run on a part-airport/part support road course and all teams in the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford will enter the weekend without the usual decade or two of data from previous races here. After earning 84 wins, 88 pole positions and 209 podium finishes in their 23 seasons of Champ Car competition to date, Newman/Haas Racing (NHR) has earned a reputation for ingenuity and excellent preparation by their staff of engineers and mechanics and they hope that will give them an edge this weekend and assist their drivers to become either only the second repeat winner or sixth different one in a season full of parity.

"The team has worked hard to run simulations on the computer to prepare for the new race in Edmonton," said McDonald's driver Sebastien Bourdais who holds a slim 15-point margin over second place in the title race after six of 14 events. "They are working with the track configuration and the degrees of the corners and try to come up with a set-up for the race cars. It's always difficult the really know what to expect but I think the team has proved to be very good at that. Every time we went to a new race track the car was very good right away and hopefully that will give us an advantage over the other teams. The parity in the series is mostly due to everyone having the same setups for these cars and hopefully this will give us the edge that we need to make some gains in the championship fight."

The 88-lap event on the 14-turn, 1.973-mile Finning International Raceway course on the City Centre Airport in Edmonton will mark the first of three new venues on the 14-race schedule this season and the first of two in a row as the Taylor Woodrow Grand Prix of San Jose is next on the schedule on July 31. After a dominating season that saw NHR win a combined total of nine of 14 events in 2004, they have only won two races in 2005 - Long Beach by Bourdais and Monterrey, Mexico by Bruno Junqueira, who took the points lead but was injured in the Indy Racing League-sanctioned Indy 500 shortly thereafter. Both Bourdais and Oriol Servia, who is replacing Junqueira while he recovers, were in a position to win the previous race in Toronto after each held the lead but finished fifth and second, respectively. Although new to the team, preparation is one of the things that impressed Servia when he joined the team four race ago and he went on to finish on the podium in three of those events.

"Edmonton is a new track for everybody so I think it is going to be good for a team like Newman/Haas," added PacifiCare driver Oriol Servia, who looked likely to earn his first win at the previous race in Toronto after leading 20 laps but lost the position with 11 to go and finished second. "They put a lot of preparation into each race and especially new ones. They have been working on simulations for a while to prepare for this race so hopefully we will be competitive from the first session. From a driver's point of view, there is not much I can do apart from getting there early and go around the track on a bicycle or scooter. I'm pretty confident that we can put together a good weekend for the PacifiCare team. We are just getting better and better the more time I spend with the team. I'm very happy to have finished on the podium three times in four races with the team and I hope we can continue this in Edmonton."

Although the team has never competed on this course, they have experienced some success in Canada. Over the years they have earned 11 wins and 10 pole positions north of the Border. The wins include seven in Toronto (Bourdais 2004; da Matta 2002; Michael Andretti 2000, 1995, 1992, 1991, 1989) three in Vancouver (Michael Andretti 1996, 1992, 1991) and one in Montreal (Junqueira 2004). Their 10 Canadian poles include four in Toronto (Bourdais 2004 & 2005, da Matta 2002, Mi. Andretti 1991) four in Vancouver (Da Matta 2002; Mi. Andretti 1992, 1991, 1990) and two in Montreal (Bourdais 2004, da Matta 2002). In total they have earned 25 top-three finishes in Canada and hope to add to that total this weekend.

"We've always been competitive in Cleveland and one part of the track in Edmonton is on the airport so hopefully we'll see that we are good there as well," said Bourdais who started from pole in two of his three Cleveland races and third this year. "It's an airport configuration and really, really wide. Hopefully both the McDonald's and PacifiCare cars will be good there and we can score some good points and bring the team a 1-2 finish."

"From looking at the map of the track, it looks fun," added Servia, who celebrated his 31st birthday today in Canada. "There are a couple of places to overtake and it reminds me a little bit of the street race we had in St. Petersburg two years ago. I think it's going to be a good event. I think it's good that the track is more on the wide side than narrow; it provides for more overtaking."

At the halfway point in the 14-race season, Bourdais holds a 15-point lead over second place Paul Tracy (135) and 22 over third place Justin Wilson (128). A.J. Allmendinger is fourth with 111 points while PacifiCare driver Oriol Servia is only four points behind him with 107. The battle for the championship should provide good entertainment for the Canadian fans.

"I think it's really fantastic that we race in Canada and that the events are as successful as they are," said Servia. "It's good to have Canadian drivers in the series but honestly I think the fans would come anyway because they love racing no matter what and I think we put on a good show and that's why we have so many fans come to the track. There are always great parties on race weekends in Canada. Obviously as drivers we can't go to them until Sunday night but that's what we hear. The more activities the fans can attend, the more fun they are going to have and the Canadian promoters always have plenty of activities on race weekend."

The West Edmonton Mal Grand Prix of Edmonton will get underway with qualifying sessions on Friday and Saturday, and the 88-lap event taking the green flag at 1:30 p.m. Mountain Time on Sunday, July 17. The television coverage will begin at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time on SPEED Channel with a 30-minute qualifying show, with live race coverage to follow immediately after. Fans can also follow along live by monitoring the free timing and scoring feature on the official website of the series, www.champcarworldseries.com/.

Driver Stats and Quotes:

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS, #1 McDonald'sFord-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone:

- IN EDMONTON: Will be his first race here.

- LEADING 2005 CCWS STANDINGS: Ended a series active record for most top-three starts at 15 with his fourth place qualifying effort at the season-opener in Long Beach but led a total of 37 laps and drove to victory in an exciting race that had seven different leaders...Was fastest on Friday and Saturday's qualifying in Monterrey, Mexico, and led the first 17 laps but contact with Paul Tracy while attempting to pass him caused an extra pit stop to replace his flat tire and ultimately limited his finish to fifth place. Started sixth on the one-mile oval in Milwaukee and was in podium contention when he exceeded the speed limit (55 in a 50) on his last stop and dropped to a sixth place finish to regain the points lead with 77 over second place Justin Wilson, 70...Started fifth in Portland after losing his fastest laps in Friday and Saturday's qualifying sessions. Finished second in the event after having led seven laps to increase his points lead over second place to 11 over Tracy. Started third and finished fifth in Cleveland and lost the points lead to Tracy who won from pole...Regained points lead after finishing fifth in Toronto. Started from pole and led the first 34 laps before contact with Tracy while the two were racing out of the pits limited his result. Leads the standings with 150 points, 15 over second place Tracy, 135 after Round 6/14.

ORIOL SERVIA, #2 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone:

- IN EDMONTON: Will be his first race here.

- 5TH IN 2005 CCWS STANDINGS: Ran first two races with Dale Coyne Racing. Started 14th in season-opener in Long Beach and finished 11th. Started seventh in Monterrey, Mexico and was in second place late in the race before he spun and ultimately finished ninth in the event and ranked 13th in the point standings. Made his debut for NHR in Milwaukee as the replacement for Junqueira who was injured while attempting to pass a lapped car in the Indy 500 on May 29. Qualified ninth and went on to pass his new teammate Bourdais and ultimately finish third and move up to sixth place in the standings with 48 points. On June 9 was named to drive the PacifiCare car while Junqueira recuperates. Started 12th in Portland and had pitted in fourth place after running fifth when his drive shaft failed and he retired in 16th place...Started sixth and finished third as well as set the fastest race lap...Earned his best qualifying position with team of fourth place in Toronto and matched his best career finish of second place after he led 20 laps but lost the lead with 11 to go. Ranked fifth in the standings with 107 points to leader Bourdais 150.

- EIGHT PODIUM FINISHES TO DATE: Of his eight career top-three podium finishes, his highest is second place at 2005 Toronto (NHR) and 2003 events in Milwaukee and Montreal. He finished third in Cleveland (NHR, 2005), Milwaukee (NHR, 2005), Laguna Seca (2004), Denver (2003) and Detroit (2000).

- HIGHEST CHAMP CAR START: His best career start is second place in Montreal and Denver in 2003.

What They're Saying About....

Sebastien Bourdais, #1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone: "The team has worked hard to run simulations on the computer to prepare for the new race in Edmonton. They are working with the track configuration and the degrees of the corners and try to come up with a set-up for the race cars. It's always difficult the really know what to expect but I think the team has proved to be very good at that. Every time we went to a new race track the car was very good right away and hopefully that will give us an advantage over the other teams. The parity in the series is mostly due to everyone having the same setups for these cars and hopefully this will give us the edge that we need to make some gains in the championship fight. We've always been competitive in Cleveland and one part of the track in Edmonton is on the airport so hopefully we'll see that we are good there as well. It's an airport configuration and really, really wide. Hopefully both the McDonald's and PacifiCare cars will be good there and we can score some good points and bring the team a 1-2 finish

"I think there have always been some good Canadian drivers in Champ car and that has helped our series be popular with them. I heard that the sun doesn't set until 10 p.m. and I think it's going to make for a longer party for the fans. Hopefully we will also be able to make the most of the daylight and celebrate a good race on Sunday night."

Oriol Servia, #2 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone: "Edmonton is a new track for everybody so I think it is going to be good for a team like Newman/Haas. They put a lot of preparation into each race and especially new ones. They have been working on simulations for a while to prepare for this race so hopefully we will be competitive from the first session. From a driver's point of view, there is not much I can do apart from getting there early and go around the track on a bicycle or scooter. I'm pretty confident that we can put together a good weekend for the PacifiCare team. We are just getting better and better the more time I spend with the team. I'm very happy to have finished on the podium three times in four race with the team and I hope we can continue this in Edmonton."

"From looking at the map of the track, it looks fun. There are a couple of places to overtake and it reminds me a little bit of the street race we had in St. Petersburg two years ago. I think it's going to be a good event. I think it's good that the track is more on the wide side than narrow; it provides for more overtaking. I think it's really fantastic that we race in Canada and that the events are as successful as they are. It's good to have Canadian drivers in the series but honestly I think the fans would come anyway because they love racing no matter what and I think we put on a good show and that's why we have so many fans come to the track.

"There are always great parties on race weekends in Canada. Obviously as drivers we can't go to them until Sunday night but that's what we hear. The more activities the fans can attend, the more fun they are going to have and the Canadian promoters always have plenty of activities on race weekend."

-nhr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Michael Andretti , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Sébastien Bourdais , A.J. Allmendinger , Dale Coyne