CHAMPCAR/CART: Long Beach: Rocketsports Racing Saturday report

PIZZONIA WILL START AS THE SECOND BEST ROOKIE IN LONG BEACH AFTER QUALIFYING 11TH FOR ROCKETSPORTS RACING LONG BEACH, California (April 8, 2006) - Rocketsports Racing's Antonio Pizzonia qualified to make his Champ Car debut in tomorrow's Toyota...

PIZZONIA WILL START AS THE SECOND BEST ROOKIE IN LONG BEACH AFTER QUALIFYING 11TH FOR ROCKETSPORTS RACING

LONG BEACH, California (April 8, 2006) - Rocketsports Racing's Antonio Pizzonia qualified to make his Champ Car debut in tomorrow's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and will start as the second best rookie in a six-driver freshman class which represents the new faces in the 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford 18-car field.

Counting on obtaining some more valuable on-track time this morning during the one-hour practice session, the Brazilian unfortunately had a mishap entering turn eight, backing the car into the tires. Some damage was done to the #8 Rotax/Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, but the swift Rocketsports crew worked hard and got him back on track with just over 35 minutes left in the session. Not much time was lost, because Pizzonia brought out a red flag for his incident which resulted in an eight-minute penalty that he would have to serve in the pits anyway.

Pizzonia recorded his best time of the morning session at 1:09.237 (102.327 mph) and sat 14th on the charts, which was an improvement to his provisional qualifying time he posted yesterday afternoon on the streets of Long Beach.

Final qualifying took place this afternoon to determine the starting line-up for tomorrow's Champ Car season opener. During the first stint of qualifying, the "Jungle Boy" sat in the tenth spot. As the green flag dropped to start the timed qualifying session the rookie headed out early to take advantage of clear, open track. He ran seven of an allotted 15 laps during his first run at qualifying, followed by six more laps which completed his qualifying segment of the afternoon. < p>

On his 13th lap of the session, Pizzonia recorded his best time of the weekend posting a 1:08.242 (103.819 mph). That was the last lap he could run because of a red flag, which ended the session with over a minute to go, and cost Pizzonia the chance to run one more lap in hopes of improving his overall position in qualifying.

"Overall I am happy with how things are going, I have been improving a lot throughout the weekend and the #8 Rotax/Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone car has been too," said Pizzonia. "It has been a big challenge for me to learn and get used to, not only the Champ Car, but the track as well. We are not were we wanted to be on the grid for tomorrow's event, but hopefully we can have a good, clean race and improve our position on-track when it really counts."

-rsr

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Antonio Pizzonia