CHAMPCAR/CART: Long Beach: Minardi Team USA Friday report

HE 'AIN'T' SUPERSTITIOUS Long Beach, California (April 13, 2007) -- The first round of qualifying at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach saw Minardi Team USA harboring mixed emotions. With just five minutes of the session remaining and Robert ...

HE 'AIN'T' SUPERSTITIOUS

Long Beach, California (April 13, 2007) -- The first round of qualifying at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach saw Minardi Team USA harboring mixed emotions. With just five minutes of the session remaining and Robert Doornbos and Dan Clarke on their final qualification runs, a red flag came out, forcing the field into the pits. This cost both drivers valuable track time, Clarke ending up in 13th, while Doornbos is 15th at the end of the first day. Both drivers and crew expect to see significantly improved performance tomorrow, and confidence remains high.

For Speedy Dan, qualifying in 13th position on Friday the 13th is not necessarily a sign of bad luck, as the young Brit makes strides every session. With only three days in the car before today, it therefore seems a good bet he will move up the grid for Sunday's race.

"Speedy Dan" Clarke 1 min 09.773 secs 101.541 mph

"There is a lot of time left in both myself and the car, and today's qualification doesn't give a true indication of where we should stand on the charts. Every time I get in the car, I am increasingly more comfortable, and I'm working to acclimate myself to the paddle-shift gearbox. I will work with my entire team this evening, and I have a positive outlook that we will have a substantial improvement on today's run."

For Robert Doornbos, coming off a remarkable second-place finish in Las Vegas last weekend while making his Champ Car debut, today's qualifying result didn't give cause for discouragement.

Robert Doornbos 1 min 09.865 secs 101.407 mph

"It's great to be here in Long Beach -- the facilities and the circuit seem really good. The car was a little less fun to drive today than in Las Vegas last week, as we seemed to be chasing set-up much of the time. We had a few small problems this morning that lost us some track time, and we then went the wrong way on set-up this afternoon, and didn't have enough time to sort the situation. In addition, the red flag didn't help us. Our hopes are now on tomorrow, which I think should see the track producing faster times anyway. It's all wide open yet as far as qualifying positions are concerned."

Keith Wiggins- Minardi Team USA Co-Owner

"The team obviously set a standard for itself in Las Vegas last weekend that it expects to maintain, so we're not happy this far back. It's only Friday, though, and we would be more concerned if we were in this sort of position tomorrow. We've got to work on the car overnight to improve it, but I'm fully confident we'll do just that."

-credit: mtusa

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Series INDYCAR