CHAMPCAR/CART: Laguna Seca: Newman/Haas preview

Driver Stats and Quotes: BRUNO JUNQUEIRA, ...

Driver Stats and Quotes:

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA, #1 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone:

- FASTEST IN PRE-SEASON TEST AT LAGUNA SECA: It will be his third race here. Started third and finished fourth in 2002. Started 12th and finished seventh in 2001. Ran the fastest time in the pre-season test at this track.

- THIRD IN STANDINGS: Was second fastest in provisional qualifying in St. Pete but his fastest qualifying lap in final qualifying (potentially third) was disallowed because he brought out a red flag when he spun and stopped on course. More red flags during the session prevented him from running faster than the time he set on Friday and he started seventh. Dropped to 14th in race due to losing many positions on his first of three pit stops when the air hose of the inside rear tire changer's air gun disengaged. Charged to a 3rd place finish...More problems in qualifying led to a seventh place start in Mexico despite being fastest in both pre-qualifying practice sessions as he also did in St. Pete. Ran as high as third in the race but spun and dropped to ninth. Many on-track passes enabled him to finish fifth...Started fourth in Long Beach and finished third...Set second fastest qualifying time in England but started third due to Bourdais earning the second-place, front row start by setting the fastest time in final qualifying. Finished second...Started second in Germany and finished fourth after he led 23 laps and ran in top three most of the event...Started eighth in Milwaukee (based on combined practice times due to rain in qualifying) but crashed on the first racing lap in Milwaukee and from a two-way tie for first place in the points to third with 66.

- ON ROAD/STREET COURSE: Finished in the top-five in all four road/street course races so far this season. Two of his three wins came on this type of course ('01 Elkhart Lake road course, '02 Denver street course). He collected 110 of his 164 total points in the '02 championship on this type of course.

- 46th START/THIRD SEASON: The race will mark his seventh event with NHR and 46th overall after he made 39 starts with Target/Ganassi Racing in 2001 and 2002. His past two championships have come in his third season in those series.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS, #2 Lilly Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone:

- IN MONTEREY: Will be his first race here. Was the fastest driver on the first of a two-day pre-season test and second overall during the two days to teammate Junqueira. Is the only track he has tested on to date in the series prior to the event.

- RANKED FOURTH IN STANDINGS: By earning the pole position in his Champ car debut in St. Pete, Bourdais became the first driver to accomplish the feat since Nigel Mansell won the pole for the '93 Australian event - also while driving for NHR...Bourdais led 30 laps in St. Pete and became the first driver in the 25 year history of series to lead the first laps of his inaugural Champ car race...He also set the fastest race lap...Won his second pole in the series in Monterrey as well as set a track record. He led the first 16 laps but a faulty radio led to a missed pit stop. Also had a troubled pit stop and later brushed the wall entering the pits which ultimately led to retire from the race in 17th place...Started fifth in Long Beach, led three laps in the race and retired in 16th place due to engine failure after he completed 70 of 90 laps...Earned his first Champ Car victory in only his fourth event at Brands Hatch after starting second and leading 95 laps...First driver in series history to win from pole in his oval racing debut in Germany after he led 74 laps in the closest finish (0.08) since 2000 Michigan race...Started 13th in Milwaukee (based on combined practice times due to qualifying being rained out) and finished ninth despite an overheating engine in the early stages of the race...He is currently ranked 4th in the point standings with 53 points.

- BONUS POINTS: Has earned FIVE bonus points this season (St. Pete - Fri. & Sat. qual; Mexico - Sat. qual.; Germany - qual. & leading most laps).

- RANKED 2nd IN LAPS LED -- 218: Led 30 - St. Pete., 16 - Monterrey, 3 - Long Beach, 95 - England (victory) and 74 - Germany (victory). Ranked second behind Paul Tracy (227) for most laps led so far in 2003.

What They're Saying About...

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA, #1 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone: "I have raced at Laguna Seca twice and it's a very nice road course that has some fast corners. For sure the corkscrew is pretty exciting and challenging for the drivers and qualifying on that track is pretty nice - I love it! I really enjoy racing there. Last year I had a very good car and I finished fourth. I also had a good car the first year but the yellow flag situation didn't help me or many others much. I remember that last year I was very good there but not as fast as the Newman/Haas guys Cristiano and Christian but now I am going back in a Newman/Haas car and I think I will run much, much better and try to get the win. After setting the fastest lap time in the pre-season test as well as the fact that Cristiano won from pole there last year and Christian finished second makes me confident that the PacifiCare car will be good there on race weekend.

CAN YOU HELP NHR EARN BACK-TO-BACK 1-2 FINISHES HERE? "The Newman/Haas team finished 1-2 here last year and I think the team has the ability to finish 1-2 again this year since we ran 1-2 in the pre-season test. (Said jokingly) I think the No. 1 PacifiCare car can finish P1 and the No. 2 car can finish second. I would like that but I bet Sebastien would prefer the other way around.

IS IT TOO EARLY TO BEGIN THINKING ABOUT THE CHAMPIONSHIP? "I think you have to start thinking about the Championship since the first race. You have to score points and try to do the best job you can. At the first race in St. Petersburg they gave 20 points for the win and at the last race of the year in Fontana they will give the same number -- 20 points. You just have to try to be as consistent as possible and score points throughout the season and if you can do that then at the end of the year for sure you are going to have a shot at the Championship."

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS, #2 Lilly Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone: "I think Laguna Seca is a race track where I'm probably going to be quick because it's the only one so far that I will have had experience on before the race and also because it is more like a European track. I just enjoy that kind of road course but it's also going to be a tough race because Bruno is very quick on that type of course and I think that PT (Paul Tracy) and (Patrick) Carpentier were not so far back when we tested there and they were just discovering their cars. I think I will have a good car in my hands though and the Lilly team should have a good weekend.

CAN YOU HELP NHR EARN BACK-TO-BACK 1-2 FINISHES HERE? "I think we have a good package to do the job as we have had since the beginning of the season so I don't see any reason not to be able to finish 1-2 again. It's always tough to put a 1-2 finish together though. We did it in Brands Hatch and it doesn't happen often so hopefully it will happen again.

IS IT TOO EARLY TO START THINKING ABOUT CHAMPIONSHIP POSSIBILITIES? "With or without thinking about the Championship, you want to do well in the races. We have the car to do the job and I am able to do it so lets take the races one by one and do as best as we can. Hopefully at the end of the year you count the points and you are there.

THOUGHTS ON THE TRACK: "Laguna Seca is a very fluent track - it goes from one turn to another with a good flow. It is a very nice track and is very smooth. The hardest part of the track is definitely the corkscrew and the downhill part where you have two very quick turns that are very different. It's very physically demanding and a little bumpy so it's easy to lose control of the car."

-nhr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Paul Tracy , Nigel Mansell
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing