CHAMPCAR/CART: Long Beach: Minardi Team USA report

MIXED FORTUNES BUT HIGH HOPES Long Beach, California (April 14, 2007) -- The final grid is set for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, and Minardi Team USA drivers survived a nerve-wracking session to qualify sixth (Robert Doornbos) and...

MIXED FORTUNES BUT HIGH HOPES

Long Beach, California (April 14, 2007) -- The final grid is set for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, and Minardi Team USA drivers survived a nerve-wracking session to qualify sixth (Robert Doornbos) and 14th (Dan Clarke). Dan will start 13th, however, as Paul Tracy will not be participating in tomorrow's race due to an injury sustained in this morning's practice session.

Robert struggled slightly adapting to the circuit, but then had a strong first stint in the final qualifying session. At the end of his opening run, he headed for pit lane to re-fuel, but drove past the pit entrance while looking at his onboard data. As a result, he ran out of fuel, but had the presence of mind to park in a safe spot, in order not to cause a red flag and lose his quickest lap time. His impressive lap saw him at the top of the charts for a considerable time, although he eventually ended up in sixth place. Team mate, 'Speedy' Dan, has found it difficult to get into a rhythm this weekend, as various issues have intervened, and it was a similar story in today's qualifying session. As ever, though, he will aim for a strong showing in the race.

Robert Doornbos 1 min 08.183 secs 103.909 mph

"My engineer told me to pit, but I missed the pit entry and ran out of fuel. It was so hot just sitting in the car on the track, it was like being in a sauna for the entire session! That was the longest twenty minutes of my life! I had a good car, and we were finally able to attack the track. Unfortunately, I then made a mistake. I'm very sorry for all the boys, as I could have turned a faster time, but I am confident we will have a good car for the race."

'Speedy' Dan Clarke 1 min 08.890 secs 102.842 mph

"It has been an immensely frustrating weekend for me so far. We kept having issues, and I feel bad for the entire crew, who worked hard all afternoon. Hopefully, we can get everything sorted tonight, and put these past two days behind us. We are making gains bit by bit. That's exactly how our weekend went at Denver last year, and we got a podium finish out of it, so we'll hope for a similar result here. Obviously, we'd like to be starting further up the grid tomorrow, but sometimes these things just happen."

Paul Stoddart, Team Co-owner

"At the start of this weekend's final qualifying session, Robert put in a blinding 68.1-second lap, which saw him at the top of the timing screens for quite awhile. Despite not taking part in the remainder of the session, the lap was still good enough for him to start tomorrow's race from P6. Sadly, Dan didn't have a good session, as gearbox issues saw him struggling to reach his full potential, and he'll start the race from P14. The whole team now looks forward to tomorrow's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach."

-credit: mtusa

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Series INDYCAR