CHAMPCAR/CART: Long Beach: Pre-race notes, quoteboard

WHOS HOT In Las Vegas Will Power ( ...

WHOS HOT

In Las Vegas Will Power (#5 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) made Champ Car history as he became the first Australian born driver to win a Champ Car race. Power claimed the pole position on Saturday and went on to lead a total of 38 laps. As a result Power also becomes the first Aussie to lead the series standings with a total of 33 points.

Robert Doornbos (#14 Muermans/Jumbo Supermarkten/Media Mall Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) found the podium in his Champ Car debut and became the first to do so since Nigel Mansell accomplished the same feat in his first Champ Car start in Surfers Paradise, Australia in 1993. The former Formula One driver needed little time to acclimate himself to Champ Car's DP01 qualifying in the third position and followed that up with a second place finish.

Alex Tagliani (#8 LXN2 Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) made his return to the RSPORTS squad a memorable one as he brought his car home in the fourth position while leading 11 laps. Last year in Long Beach, the Canadian got his season off to a great start by qualifying seventh and climbing up to capture a podium finish.

Alex Figge (#29 Imperial Capital Bank Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) was one of the seven drivers to make their debut in Las Vegas and he did it in style. After struggling in qualifying the rookie captured the bonus point for picking up the most spots during the race, starting in the seventeenth position and picking up nine spots to finish eighth.

Sophomore driver Katherine Legge (#11 Dale Coyne Racing Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) got her season off to a good start, matching her career-best result with a sixth-place finish. It was her best finish on a road course and also matches the top finish for a female in the Champ Car World Series. Last year in her rookie appearance in Long Beach the Brit finished in the eighth position.

ON THE RIGHT TRACK

When looking at the winners of the Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix Paul Tracy's (#3 Indeck Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) name comes up early and often. In 1993 he recorded his first of thirty career wins on the streets of Long Beach. Over the years the Canadian veteran has picked up a total of four victories, two poles, and a total of 256 laps led. He also made the first of his 250 Champ Car starts with a 1991 Long Beach appearance.

2005 and 2006 Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix Champion Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonalds Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) looks to continue his success on the Californian streets. In four appearances in Long Beach the Flying Frenchman has three podium finishes, has paced 110 laps and has never started outside the top five.

Justin Wilson (#9 CDW Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) recorded his first Long Beach podium last year after starting from the outside pole position. In three appearances on the Long Beach streets the Brit has and improved his finishing position by two every year.

Mario Dominguez (#7 Telmex Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) has an active streak of four consecutive top-five finishes at Long Beach. He finished a personal-best fourth a year ago.

Bruno Junqueira (#19 Sonny's Bar-B-Q Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) has started fourth or better in each of the last five Long Beach events. He earned podiums in the 2003, '04, and '05 events and won the pole for the 2004 race, where he finished second.

NOTEWORTHY

First ran in 1977, Long Beach Grand Prix is currently the single largest event held in Long Beach, California. Over the years it has transitioned from Formula 5000 to Formula 1 to finally a Champ Car race. This year Champ Car will be making their 24th trip to the streets of Long Beach.

Both Robert Doornbos and Tristan Gommendy made their Champ Car debuts with top-five finishes in Las Vegas, marking the first time that has happened since Jim Crawford (4th) and Emerson Fittipaldi (#5th) turned the trick at Long Beach in 1984.

Out of the twenty three years that the Champ Car World Series has headlined at the Long Beach Grand Prix, ten victors have gone on to also win the series title. In fact in three out of the last four years the Long Beach Grand Prix winner went on to take the championship.

Out of the teams that will be competing in the Grand Prix of Long Beach only one calls the west coast home. Pacific Coast Motorsports which is based in Carpinteria, California made the step up to Champ Car's premiere series after having competed in Champ Car Atlantic, American LeMans Series and in the Rolex Grand American Road Racing Series in the last four years.

DID YOU KNOW?

Because of its proximity to LA-area studios and its variety of locations, Long Beach is regularly used for movies, television shows, and advertisements. The city has filled in for locations across the nation and around the globe. One advantage that Long Beach has is that the film industry uses a zone that extends 30 miles from Beverly Blvd. and La Cienega Blvd. in the West Hollywood area. Within that zone it is cheaper to film, so Long Beach and other South Bay cities often stand in for areas of Orange County in productions like the TV show The O.C. because almost all of Orange County is outside that zone. Long Beach is also known for its port which is the second busiest seaport in the United States . The port serves shipping between the United States and the Pacific Rim. The combined operations of the Port of Long Beach and the Port of Los Angeles are the busiest in the USA.

BY THE NUMBERS

30,000 -- How many average working hours it takes to put together the Long Beach course. 70- How many laps Sebastien Bourdais led during last year's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. 13 -- How many times an American racer has taken the checkered flag first in the Long Beach Grand Prix. 7 -- How many times the Grand Prix of Long Beach has been won from the pole position. 7 - In the last fourteen years the driver that won the season opening event went on to win the championship seven times. 6- The most times any one driver has visited Victory Lane in Long Beach (Al Unser Jr.). 4 -- The most consecutive Long Beach wins any one driver has recorded (Al Unser Jr. 1988-1991). 3 -- The most poles any one driver has been able to record in Long Beach (Mario Andretti, Michael Andretti and Gil de Ferran). 2 -- The number of last names (Andretti and Unser) that won the first eight Long Beach Grands Prix.

PRE-RACE QUOTES

Will Power #5 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone -- "I feel great and very confident going into Long Beach after our strong weekend. We will go into this weekend the same as we did in Vegas. Try to get the best out of the car, qualify in the top five and minimize our mistakes and get as many points as possible. It helps coming to Long Beach because I really like the circuit and I look forward to coming back to a track that I have been to before. Last year we did well, but I made some mistakes so I want to get this race right and get Team Australia on the podium again."

Robert Doornbos #14 Muermans/Jumbo Supermarkten/Media Mall Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone -- "Of course, I feel good after our debut last weekend in Vegas -- both for the team and for myself. It's obviously early days, but I feel confident we can have a successful season. Hopefully, we can improve even further on last weekend's result, and take home a win. I have heard great stories about Long Beach, and I'm looking forward to what will hopefully be another strong performance."

Paul Tracy #3 INDECK Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone -- "The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach has been an integral part of my career, it is an extremely important event for Champ Car and I know that all the drivers really enjoy the track and the atmosphere overall. We are coming off a pretty decent weekend at Las Vegas and we now just have to keep the momentum going and keep accumulating points for the Championship. I'm going to do everything possible to win Long Beach for the fifth time"!

Alex Tagliani #8 LXN2 Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone -- "I think that the RSPORTS team was able to accomplish what we wanted to for the first race of the season with the #8 LXN2/RSPORTS car. We were in the ballpark all weekend in Las Vegas, and we know the areas we are lacking. So it was a good start to earn some valuable points because that is really important when you are fighting for the championship title. We had a car that was capable of finishing second in Las Vegas, so that makes us very pleased to say that we are there in terms of being competitive. We have some challenges to face in terms of closing the gap, but we know what work we have to do. We have a plan and we hope to be even closer in Long Beach. I always enjoy coming to Long Beach; it is always a great event and a traditional one at that on the Champ Car World Series schedule."

Alex Figge #29 Imperial Bank Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone - "I am really looking forward to racing the Imperial Capital Bank car in Long Beach. This will be a big weekend for me as our team is based just up the road in Ventura and I lived in Los Angeles for many years. I am also looking forward to getting back on a track I am familiar with. I've raced at Long Beach several times both in the Atlantic and Grand Am car, so the familiarity will be nice. I learned so much last weekend, there is a lot to process racing Champ Cars, but at least I won't have to learn the track this weekend. It's going to be great and I am ready to get started!"

Mario Dominguez #7 Telmex/Cabi Developers Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone -- "Long Beach is a great track. I've always enjoyed racing there and it really suits my driving style so I'm usually pretty quick there. There is a huge Hispanic following at NG Beach, it really feels almost like a home race for me. Las Vegas was a difficult weekend for us so we are really looking forward to getting behind the wheel of the Telmex/Banca Mifel car and putting on a good show for all the Hispanic fans in California."

Ryan Dalziel #28 Pacific Coast Motorsports Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone -- "I love Long Beach. It is definitely a fantastic event. Lot's of energy here and it is going to be fun racing for the home team. I've got good memories as I won here in Atlantic (2004), it is a prestigious event and having won here is special. I am ready to make up for the problems we had during the race last weekend and get the Ironclad car back into the top-ten and finish there."

Simon Pagenaud #15 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone -- "Obviously I got lots of experience in Las Vegas which will help me greatly especially since I know this track and raced it last year it shouldn't be as difficult. We have a good street car and will be ready to be quick again this weekend. The Long Beach circuit is a fun track and now we will just go into this weekend with the same mode as we went into Vegas. Team Australia has given me a great car so far and I can't wait to bring them all a great result."

Sebastien Bourdais #1 McDonalds Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone -- "You need something -- I wouldn't say you need luck -- but you need things not to be against you in order to win a championship. Even more this year, that will be the case while we work on the reliability of these new cars. The Las Vegas event was difficult for the McDonald's team between bad luck with the tire punctures and the mistakes. We have run well in Long Beach with podium finishes since 2004 and winning the past two races so it would be good to carry that over and do it again this year and get our season going. To be able to make history with a fourth consecutive championship for the McDonald's team is a big motivation but I don't need that to go at it and work hard. The guys put in so many hours in the off-season and again at Las Vegas. I think realistically the team has been doing a fantastic job for three years in a row now and when you get to the top the only thing you want to do is stay there so we don't need extra motivation."

Justin Wilson #9 CDW Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone --"We had a bit of a rough start to the season, with having the mechanical failure in Las Vegas. It was definitely disappointing because that is not how we wanted to start the season off. We have some work to do to get back on the pace, but we ran well in Long Beach last year, so that will be a plus as we prepare for the next event. We came very close last year, finishing second, so hopefully we can have another good weekend here if everything works out. I am looking forward to returning to Long Beach. I think it is a great track, and one that is very special for us to compete at. I hope to have a rewarding weekend to get us back on track for the 2007 season championship battle."

Dan Clarke #4 Ticketmaster/Synapse Power/The Australian Pink Floyd Show Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone --"It is great to be back at Long Beach. It was my first Champ Car race here last year and it was definitely one of my favorites. It will be fantastic to be on a track where I have some experience myself, and can use what I learned last year to my advantage. It was a catch up weekend for me in Las Vegas, having not driven the new DP01 chassis before. But it was still a great race. It was brilliant to be back behind the wheel again and it makes me realize what a lucky boy I am being a racing driver. My Minardi USA Team was wonderful and together we showed we have the pace to be on the podium at every race meeting. So I go to Long Beach in a very positive frame of mind."

Matt Halliday #42 42 Below Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone -- "I am looking forward to Long Beach because I think all of my bad luck got out of the way in Las Vegas. It is an exciting circuit and a great event and I am anxious to compete in my second Champ Car event. We are working to improve our set up and get a solid finish and some good points on the board this weekend."

Graham Rahal #2 Medi | Zone Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone -- "Both the Medi | Zone and McDonald's teams had a tough start to the season in Las Vegas but we're going to put that behind us and focus on getting the job done in Long Beach. It's a place that the team has run well on recently and a place that I have experience on as well. I made my Atlantic debut in Long Beach last year. We were on pole in qualifying until the very last lap. I was told over the radio 'Hey you're on pole, you don't need to worry about pushing.' I thought everybody else was finished when they told me and I came into the pits and I was seventh so that was a bummer. In the race, on the very first lap I hit the wall -- the left hander in the hairpin on the front straight. I just brushed the wall and bent the inside suspension so the car had massive understeer the whole race. Otherwise I think we could have finished on the podium but we finished fifth. Long Beach is a historic event. In a lot of ways it's like Monaco or any of these types of events. Number One, being next to the ocean is awesome; people love it. The atmosphere of the city is great, they really get into the event. That's why the race has become so popular. It's been around so long that a lot of people not only enjoy going to the race but they also know when it's going to happen and that they can count on it each year. For me, it's an exciting event to go to. It's tough to compare it to the Indy 500 but it's got to be up there with the best events."

-credit: ccws

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