LONG BEACH, Calif., April 15, 2000 - California resident and Walker Racing substitute driver Bryan Herta qualified in fifth position today with a quick lap of 68.102 seconds and 104.170 mph in the ...
LONG BEACH, Calif., April 15, 2000 - California resident and Walker Racing substitute driver Bryan Herta qualified in fifth position today with a quick lap of 68.102 seconds and 104.170 mph in the #5 avex/Honda/Reynard for the Sunday's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Herta is on loan to Walker Racing while regular driver Shinji Nakano is recovering from injuries sustained in a private testing accident in Milwaukee on March 31.
"I'm really pleased with the amount of progress we've made the last two days working with this team," said Herta. "When you look at the big picture, I don't have very much time in the 2000 Reynard yet -- we only ran a total of about 65 laps when we tested a few days ago at Firebird. We're just a little bit behind the curve but we're getting better and better every time we go out. I'm looking forward to tomorrow and having a good strong race. The primary objective when we came here was to qualify in the front three rows and then at the end to try and be in the top three. We've positioned ourselves to be able to do that, so we'll see what tomorrow brings."
Herta was quickest of all CART drivers during the morning practice session with a fast lap time of 68.505 and a speed of 103.420 mph. His only test time prior to this weekend's race with the Walker team came on Tuesday, April 11 when he tested at Firebird Raceway in Phoenix.
"The last thing you really want to do during the season is to break the momentum of the team when you have a driver go out due to injury," said Derrick Walker. "It's really gratifying to see the team and Bryan coming together only four of five days ago and putting it all together to get a fifth-place starting position today, which is a great recovery from the setback we had a little while ago."
"Tomorrow I think our expectation is to not finish any lower than fifth, I just think we have to see what the pace is and see who is around at the end, hopefully it will be one of us. I think Bryan is definitely capable of winning the race, and Al (Bodey, race engineer) has put together a well-balanced car. The Honda engine can win, it's the most well balanced car in the field and you need that in a street race like this. I think we've got all the pieces, let's see if we can make them work."
The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will be broadcast at 5 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, April 16.
Walker Racing's corporate sponsor partners are avex, Alpine, J. Communications, Mitsuba, SpeedWRX, NGK, St. Elmo Steakhouse, Honda, Reynard and Firestone.