CHAMPCAR/CART: Las Vegas: Rocketsports Friday report

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (September 24, 2004) -- Rocketsports drivers, Alex Tagliani and Guy Smith qualified 12th and 14th respectively, for the Bridgestone 400 Presented by Corona at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Tagliani posted a time of 26.713 (202.149...

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (September 24, 2004) -- Rocketsports drivers, Alex Tagliani and Guy Smith qualified 12th and 14th respectively, for the Bridgestone 400 Presented by Corona at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Tagliani posted a time of 26.713 (202.149 mph or 325.326 km/h) and was looking for more speed from the No.8 Johnson Controls Lola. Smith, in the No.17 Rocketsports/Microchip Lola clocked a time of 26.855 (201.080 mph or 323.606 km/h).

Las Vegas resident, Tagliani enters Saturday's night race ranking fifth in the Champ Car World Series standings with 201 points, only 13 away from third spot. Despite the entertainment and diversion possible in Las Vegas, Tagliani is focused on a strong finish to keep his place in the top-five. "It feels good to be back on an oval, especially here in Vegas, where everything is so familiar and exciting. It's sort of a comfort to be racing at home, but I've been focused on the race, just like any other.

"We've been making improvements to the No.8 Johnson Controls Lola, and are looking for more speed," explained Tagliani. "I have some drag in the straight that we need to reduce, but otherwise the car has good grip and we just need to gain some speed. It'll be a tight race on Saturday and you can expect lots of traffic. Quick pit stops and strategy will be very important, but I'm optimistic and confident it'll be a thrilling race."

Proudly bearing the Microchip name and associate sponsor SwiftLeisure, Smith took the No. 17 Rocketsports car around the 1.50 mile oval to secure 14th starting position on the grid. "The Las Vegas Motor Speedway is a great circuit to drive in a Champ Car. It's a fun challenge so far, but I've avoided traffic so this should get more interesting in practice tonight," reported Smith following the Friday qualifying session. "I've been going out on the track alone to get as better feel for the car. The car was good during our test here and we've been making some slight changes to make it better.

"We came with realistic expectations, and I knew qualifying would be tough," stated Smith. "I'm confident in the team and that the No. 17 Rocketsports/Microchip car will be ready for the race. The double-bill with the Craftsman Trucks is a good idea and should be a great show for the fans. Night driving will be cool here on the oval, although I am used to spotlights on the car from night racing in Le Mans, which could be an advantage for me. We'll have to see tomorrow."

Watch Smith and Tagliani round the oval in the sexiest cars in Vegas. The Bridgestone 400 Presented by Corona at Las Vegas Motor Speedway will be broadcast on Sunday, September 26, 2004 at 4:00 PM (ET) on Spike TV.

-rsr-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Guy Smith