CHAMPCAR/CART: Homestead Walker Racing Rookie Shinji Nakano; startin'' off right

Homestead, Fla., March 25, 2000 --- Walker Racing rookie driver Shinji Nakano qualified in 15th position with a quick lap of 203.861 mph (26.524 sec.) enroute to his first start for Derrick Walker's CART race team. Nakano, a former...

Homestead, Fla., March 25, 2000 --- Walker Racing rookie driver Shinji Nakano qualified in 15th position with a quick lap of 203.861 mph (26.524 sec.) enroute to his first start for Derrick Walker's CART race team. Nakano, a former Formula One driver, will be racing on Sunday, March 26, at the 1.5-mile oval racetrack in Homestead at the Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami presented by Toyota in the #5 avex/Honda/Reynard/ Firestone car. "This is my first time to qualify and race on an oval, so I am quite happy with my position for the race," said Nakano. "We worked mostly on race set-up this weekend so far, and the track condition was different (during qualifying) than when we ran this morning. The track temperature is getting a lot higher now and that gives the car more understeer. I think we have to try and find a good balance for the race tomorrow and get a good set-up for the car. Then we will be in good shape." Derrick Walker is the only open-wheel team owner to field full-time teams in both the CART FedEx series and the Indy Racing series during the 2000 season. "The weekend so far has been on schedule as we had planned," said Walker. "Our focus has been probably 75% on the race, so the car is fairly strong for the race itself. During qualifying we didn't make as many changes to the car as perhaps we could have to compensate for the warmer temperatures this afternoon, and the car had too much understeer when he went out to qualify. However, Shinji did a solid run and we're in, ready to go concentrate on the race. He's adapted to this type of racing fairly quickly. It's his first event and we're very pleased." The Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami presented by Toyota will be aired at 4:30 p.m. on ESPN, Sunday, March 26. Walker Racing's corporate sponsors include avex, Alpine, Mitsuba, Honda, Craftsman, DieHard, Delphi and Firestone. *** Walker Racing, in partnership with World Speed Motorsports, a CART Toyota Atlantic Team, announced that driver Pete Mercier will pilot the Walker/World Speed car for the remainder of the 2000 season. Mercier, 25, is entering his first season in the CART Toyota Atlantic series after competing sucessfully in shifter karts, the Skip Barber Formula Dodge series, Formula Mazda and the Russell Racing series. He has also served as a driving coach for several Star Fomula competitors and is an instructor at the Derek Daly Acadamey at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. "To say that this is the opportunity of a lifetime would be a complete understatement," said Mercier. "Derrick is someone I have admired for many years and I look forward to making the most of this outstanding opportunity, and to learn from one of the most respected and experienced owners in professional racing." The Walker Racing/World Speed Motorsports affiliation is the result of the mutual effort by Walker and Chuck West (owner of the World Speed team) to cultivate driving talent, crew members and team marketing partners through various motorsports arenas.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Shinji Nakano , Derek Daly