CHAMPCAR/CART: Houston: Rocketsports Thursday report

A BUMPY START FOR ROCKETSPORTS RACING IN HOUSTON HOUSTON, Texas (May 11, 2006) - A new driver and a new course, that is what Rocketsports Racing was dealing with today, and things turned out as well as could be as the driver and team...

A BUMPY START FOR ROCKETSPORTS RACING IN HOUSTON

HOUSTON, Texas (May 11, 2006) - A new driver and a new course, that is what Rocketsports Racing was dealing with today, and things turned out as well as could be as the driver and team familiarized themselves with the new 1.7-mile street course in Houston, Texas.

A late afternoon practice session kicked off the festivities in the Lone Star state today before the provisional qualifying session was held this evening. The first laps for Rocketsports driver Nicky Pastorelli were a learning experience, as it marked only the second street course the 23-year-old driver has run on. The new track is bumpy, as the Italo-Dutch expected after his track walk on Wednesday afternoon, and that was the major issue he and the team dealt with today.

"The track is very bumpy, but it is very nice," said Pastorelli after the first practice session. "It is not bad to drive at all and I am really having a good time out there. They did a great job with the layout of this new venue on the streets of Houston. There are three very interesting turns, Turns 4, 6, and 9 are tricky, but at the same time so much fun."

Provisional qualifying for Saturday night's Champ Car Grand Prix of Houston took place this evening. Tonight would be a night that Pastorelli would remember, as it was the first time he qualified in a Champ Car and the first time he would drive at night on a lighted street-course. However, those unforgiving bumps continued to be an issue, causing two contact-free incidents while trying to manage the 9-turn course in an allotted 15 laps for qualifying.

"Well, I anticipated running under the lights for the first time in my career tonight, and it was r eally not much different than running in the daylight," said Pastorelli after stepping out of the #8 Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone. "Houston did a great job lighting up the track and it was fun to drive at night. However, the provisional qualifying session did not go as well as I expected. We have been struggling with the bumps on the track. Every time I run over one, the car is real nervous in the rear and slips out from behind. Also, the track seemed a lot slippery than it was during the afternoon, which was a bit of a surprise. During practice I would head into a turn and be able to brake a lot later than I had to this evening. So that was something I had to get used to. Overall my first day out in a Champ Car was good, I just wish we could have had better results and a better run this evening. Tomorrow is a new day and we will overcome this and prepare for the race on Saturday night."

Pastorelli posted his fastest time of the provisional qualifying session on his seventh lap running a 1:04.091 (94.928 mph). However, that was not the fastest time he ran during his nine-lap run as he was penalized for causing a red flag twice and lost his fastest laps recorded this evening. Pastorelli's quickest time of the day was posted this afternoon during practice on the 36th lap of 40 with a time of 1:02.595 (97.196 mph).

Tomorrow is a new day, and an earlier one at that. Rocketsports will have another practice session in the late morning before rolling out to qualifying one last time before Saturday night's race. Qualifying will begin at 4:00 p.m. Central Time and highlights can be seen via tape delay on Speed Channel at midnight Eastern Time.

-rsr-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Nicky Pastorelli