MEXICO CITY (November 5, 2004) -- PKV Racing's Roberto Gonzalez (#21 Nextel Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) got the start to the weekend he dreamed about today on native soil as the rookie finished sixth in provisional qualifying for this Sunday's Champ Car finale at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City. PKV stablemate Jimmy Vasser (#12 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) finished 15th in the opening round South of the Border this afternoon, but will spent tonight pondering how to play the pair of Bridgestone aces he holds heading into tomorrow's final qualifying on the spectacular 2.786-mile road course.
After leading both rookie and Mexican contingents in the morning practice sessions, Gonzalez parlayed his newfound speed into a sixth place result with a top time of 1:28.106 (113.836 mph), garnering his best qualifying placing of the season.
"This is a great day and a great start to the weekend for the Nextel crew in Mexico," said Gonzalez, who finished fastest among the four Mexican pilots. "The PKV guys did an outstanding job today. I can't say enough about how proud I am of them. The car they brought here was very well prepared, and we converted that into results today. Our best qualifying session of the season came today, and the conditions couldn't have been better. Here we are in Mexico City with a great start to the weekend and positive energy -- we are looking forward to tomorrow and the rest of the weekend for sure."
After turning a 1:29.303 (112.310 mph), veteran Vasser is betting on tires playing a hand in tomorrow's final session, along with a special Troy Lee-designed helmet in Mexican livery made special to him by the famous painter to help capture the festive Mexican spirit this weekend.
"We thought we weren't so bad this morning in the practice session, to tell you the truth," said Vasser, who is looking to put the wraps on another top-10 championship run this weekend. "The Gulfstream car was on pace, and we decided to move to Roberto's [Gonzalez] setup for the qualifying session. It obviously didn't turn out the way we thought it would, but we saved both sets of the alternate Bridgestone Potenza tires for the final session tomorrow. I think [Sebastien] Bourdais and I were the only ones to do that. We'll continue to work on the overall setup tonight, knowing that Roberto's car is fast, and the fact that we have the two sets of tires in our back pocket for Saturday."
Watch the PKV Racing duo of Vasser and Gonzalez compete this Sunday afternoon, November 7th, on Spike TV (4:00 pm ET/PT) in the season finale of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered By Ford, the Gran Premio Telmex/Tecate Presented by Banamex.