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

MAKING THE BEST OF IT Long Beach, California (April 15, 2007) -- After the excitement of a podium finish in last weekend's Las Vegas Grand Prix, Minardi Team USA was reminded of the speed with which fortunes can change in racing at today's...

MAKING THE BEST OF IT

Long Beach, California (April 15, 2007) -- After the excitement of a podium finish in last weekend's Las Vegas Grand Prix, Minardi Team USA was reminded of the speed with which fortunes can change in racing at today's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, second round of the 2007 Champ Car World Series.

'Speedy' Dan Clarke started 13th after struggling in qualifying, and after a brief excursion down an escape road during the race, produced a solid, 12th-place finish. Pit strategy resulted in him climbing as high as fourth position prior to the incident. Despite then falling back to 15th, Dan kept his head down, and turned his fastest lap in the closing stages of the race.

'Speedy' Dan Clarke 12th 1 min 09.908 secs/101.345 mph

"After all of the difficulties we've had this weekend, I'm just glad we went the race distance. Had I not made a mistake, we could have had a much stronger finish, but I am glad we are on the pace now, and I feel like testing is finally over. We can go to Houston with much more confidence, and give the team the result it deserves. That's one of the things I have learned during my time in America -- the importance of teamwork -- and I thank all the guys for their loyalty and effort."

Robert Doornbos started sixth, and finished just behind his team mate, in 13th place. He made a clean start, tucking in behind Graham Rahal, and quickly established a competitive pace. The first scheduled pit stop, on lap 29, took significantly longer than planned, after the engine stalled. The Minardi Team USA crew was quick to re-start the car, but valuable seconds had been lost, and Doornbos dropped eight positions. He remained focused, though, and continued to drive quickly and consistently. Unfortunately, while running in 11th place, he encountered a gearbox problem. This could not be resolved in the time remaining, and after checking the car over, the team elected to send Robert back out in order to finish the race and collect potentially valuable championship points.

Robert Doornbos 13th 1 min 09.968 secs/101.258 mph

"It was a disappointing day, obviously. I got a decent start, playing it safe, and then tried to settle into a rhythm. We lost about eight positions at the first pit-stop, when the car stalled. After that, I could never really recover. Late in the race, my car became stuck in gear, but we took the checkered flag to earn as many points as we could. We have next week at Houston to look toward now, so hopefully we can put this one behind us."

Paul Stoddart, Team Co-owner

"It's not how we would have liked to finish, but between Robert's pit stop problem and Dan's overshoot and subsequent stall, it just wasn't going to be our day. When you consider the situation was compounded by a gearbox problem on Robert's car, 12th and 13th positions were as good as it was going to get. Now it's onwards and upwards to Houston."

KEITH WIGGINS, TEAM CO-OWNER

"Obviously, it was not a very good day for the team, particularly after the excellent result in Las Vegas. Disappointingly, we had gearbox issues and a complete failure on Robert's, after a stall in the pit stop cost him a number of places. The fact is, we didn't get it right today, so we'll have to get it right for Houston."

-credit: mtusa

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Graham Rahal , Paul Stoddart , Robert Doornbos , Dan Clarke