CHAMPCAR/CART: Las Vegas: PKV Racing preview

PKV RACING LOOKING FORWARD TO GETTING BACK ON TRACK AT UNIQUE CHAMP CAR HURRICANE RELIEF 400 INDIANAPOLIS, IN - - SEPTEMBER 21, 2005 - - Following a three week hiatus PKV Racing is looking forward to getting back on track at the most ...

PKV RACING LOOKING FORWARD TO GETTING BACK ON TRACK AT UNIQUE CHAMP CAR HURRICANE RELIEF 400

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - - SEPTEMBER 21, 2005 - - Following a three week hiatus PKV Racing is looking forward to getting back on track at the most unique event on the 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Presented by Ford calendar, the Champ Car Hurricane Relief 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Saturday, September 24, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The Champ Car Hurricane Relief 400 has several elements that make it the most unique race of the 2005 season. The race will benefit the victims of hurricane Katrina with Champ Car proceeds going to the Red Cross Hurricane Relief Fund. Champ Car presenting sponsors Bridgestone and Ford are also contributing to the relief effort in a number of ways, with Bridgestone donating monies that include a portion of the event's Bridgestone Pole Award to the fund. CARA Charities are also playing a key role in the auction, donating items through its Buckle Up Baby program.

In addition to the relief effort the Champ Car Hurricane Relief 400 is unique in a number of other ways. It is the only two-day event on the 2005 Champ Car calendar with practice and qualifying on Friday, September 23 and the race on Saturday. It is the only 2005 Champ Car race that is held at night, 8:30 p.m. It is also just the second and longest oval at 1.5-mile (Milwuakee Mile) in the Champ Car series as well as the longest race at almost 250 miles.

PKV Racing drivers Cristiano da Matta, behind the wheel of the #21 Bell Micro/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone entry and Jimmy Vasser, who pilots the #12 Gulfstream/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone machine, will be looking to build on the momentum generated by a pair of top-10 finishes, a sixth for da Matta and seventh for Vasser, three weeks ago in Montreal as they continue their driver to finish in the top-five in the championship standings at this unique event.

Vasser is having a solid season and is on schedule to finish in the top-10 in the championship race for the ninth time in the last 11 years. The highly respected 39-year-old Californian has finished in the top-10 in six of the 10 races this year with two top-five showings, a season high fourth in Toronto and a fifth in Milwaukee. He has qualified in the top-10 in nine of the 10 events this year including capturing the first pole in PKV Racing's history, at Milwaukee. Vasser is fifth in laps completed with 928 (out of a total of 1017) and eighth in laps led with 27. The 1996 Series Champion is eighth in the championship standings with 148 points, but is just 16 points out of fifth.

Vasser, who is in his 14th Champ Car season, will be making his 229th career and on-going record 208th consecutive Champ Car start this weekend. He has finished 142 of his last 184 races and placed in the top-10 in 129 of his 228 events including 64 top-five showings. The resident of Las

Vegas, NV will be making his second start in Las Vegas. Last year in the inaugural event he recorded a season high second place starting position and finished fifth.

"The Champ Car Hurricane 400 will benefit a very worthy cause, so I am proud and pleased to be a part of it," Vasser said. "This will be my second hometown race of the season (Vasser resides in Las Vegas, NV, but was raised near San Jose, CA), so it also gives me another opportunity to race in front of my family and friends, which always adds something special," he noted.

Vasser went on to say, "Las Vegas Motor Speedway is a wide open track and this is going to be a wide open race. There is going to be a lot of passing and a lot of excitement for the fans. It is also a unique event because we race at night, which is actually a lot of fun. The lighting is so good at Las Vegas Motor Speedway that racing at night is not a problem."

Vasser concluded by saying, "I really enjoy racing on ovals and Las Vegas is one of two ovals we run on during the season. The Gulfstream/PKV Racing team had some success on the oval in Milwaukee. We took the pole and finished fifth, so hopefully we can do a little better in Las Vegas."

Da Matta, who opened the season with three top-10 finishes in the first four races including a win in Portland, the first in PKV Racing history, battled through a series of incidents through the next five events before rallying with a solid performance in Montreal. The talented 31-year-old Brazilian, who has been as high as fifth in the points following the win in Portland, has finished in the top-10 in five of the 10 races contested this year including the victory in Portland. He has qualified in the top-10 in nine of the 10 events with a best starting position of second, in Cleveland, followed by a fourth in Milwaukee and a fifth in Edmonton. Da Matta is third in laps led with 71. The 2002 Series Champion back into the top-10 in the championship standings at number 10 with 121 points.

Da Matta, who spent the last two seasons competing in Formula 1, is contesting his fifth Champ Car season and first with PKV Racing. The resident of Miami FL will be making his 90th career Champ Car start, 11th for the team and first in Las Vegas this weekend.

"The Champ Car Hurricane Relief 400 is going to be a special race for a lot of reasons, the most important being that we are helping all the people affected by the hurricane," da Matta said.

Commenting on the race itself, da Matta explained, "Every driver in the field has a chance to win this race. The track is actually very easy to drive because you are flat all the way around. The biggest thing about this race is working with the draft. It is going to come down to who has the best pit stops and who works the draft the best. If you open the last lap in second place you are in good shape. The Bell Micro/PKV Racing team will be very strong in Las Vegas. The crew has done a great job in the pits all year and we had a good car at Milwaukee, the only other oval in our series."

PKV Racing will be making its third and fourth starts while competing in its second race in Las Vegas. In two previous starts (one races) the team has qualified in the top-10 twice with a best starting position of second by Vasser in last year's inaugural event. They have finished in the top-10 both times with a best finish of fifth also by Vasser last year (Gonzalez, 10th in 2004).

After the first 10 races of the 2005 Champ Car World Series season, PKV Racing has established a number of team records. Da Matta scored the team's first victory in their two plus year history in Portland (round #4) while Vasser earned the team's first pole in round #3 at Milwaukee. The two drivers have combined to set team records for best combined qualifying, first and fourth at Milwaukee and best combined finish, first and sixth at Portland. They have both qualified in the top-10 in a team record eight races, including a team record six consecutive races. Da Matta and Vasser have finished in the top-10 in the same race three times (eighth/10th at Long Beach; first/sixth, Portland and sixth/seventh, Montreal) this year and at least one of them placed in the top-six in six of the 10 events including five consecutive races (the streak ended in Edmonton), which is also a team record.

The Champ Car Hurricane Relief 400 will be televised taped delayed on Sunday, September 26 at 3:00 p.m. (ET) on SPEED Channel.

-www.pkvracing.com

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Cristiano da Matta