PKV RACING SETS SIGHTS ON PLACING ONE CAR IN TOP-FIVE, TWO IN TOP-10 IN FINAL STANDINGS
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - - NOVEMBER 2, 2005 - - PKV Racing heads into the final race of the 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season, the Gran Premio Telmex-Tecate Presented by Banamex, November 4-6, at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City, Mexico, with it sights set on finishing the season with one car in the top-five and both cars in the top-10 in the season ending standings.
PKV Racing drivers Jimmy Vasser, #12 Gulfstream/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, currently sixth in the points race while teammate Cristiano da Matta, #21 Bell Micro/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone stands 11th. Both are in solid positions to achieve their goals which would add to a growing list of team records already establish by the duo this season.
Vasser, with 198 points, is in a five-driver battle for fifth place and has a shot at finishing fourth. He currently trails A. J. Allmendinger, who holds down the number five spot, by just one point and leads Alex Tagliani by six points, local Mexican favorite Mario Dominguez by seven and Roshfrans Champ Car Rookie of the Year, Timo Glock by 17. Sitting in fourth place is the unpredictable Paul Tracy with 221 points. Vasser, who joined PKV Racing in the dual roles of owner and driver last year, is seeking his first top-five finish in the championship standings since 1998, when he placed second (he was sixth in 2000) and is trying to establish a new team record by topping his eight place showing in his inaugural season at PKV Racing. The perennial championship contender, and 1996 Series Champion, has already assured himself of his ninth top-10 finish in the standings in the last 11 years.
Vasser, who is competing in his 14th year of Champ Car competition, will be making his 231st and possibly last career Champ Car start. It will also extend his Champ Car record for consecutive starts to 210. The highly respected 39-year-old Californian, who is coming off back-to-back podium performances, thirds in Vegas and Surfers Paradise, for the first time since 2000 (Houston, first; Surfers, third), has finished in the top-10 in eight of the 12 races this season with four top-five showings including the two podiums, a fourth, in Toronto and a fifth, in Milwaukee. He has qualified in the top-10 in 11 consecutive races and 11 of the 12 events this year including capturing the first and only pole in PKV Racing's history, at Milwaukee. Vasser has finished 144 of his last 186 races and placed in the top-10 in 131 of his 230 events including 66 top-five showings and 33 podium finishes.
Vasser will be making his third start in Mexico City. The resident of Las Vegas, NV has qualified in the top-10 all three times with a best starting position of fourth in 2004. His best finish is fifth also last year.
"The Gulfsteam/PKV Racing team is coming off back-to-back podium performances, which have put us in the hunt for a top-five finish in the standings," Vasser said. "Our goal at this point is to finish in the top-five in the standings, but we are in a tight race with Allmendinger (A. J.), Tagliani (Alex), Dominguez (Mario) and Timo Glock. There is also an outside chance that fourth place is up for grabs, so it all comes down to this final race in Mexico City," he noted. "If this is my final race, and that will not be decided until the middle of December, it would be great to win, or at least place on the podium in my last event and finish in the top-five in the standings," Vasser concluded.
Da Matta, who scored the only win in PKV Racing's almost three year history when he took the checkered flag in Portland earlier this year, has amassed 132 points and is just five points out of 10th place in the standings. The 2002 Series Champion is attempting to finish in the top-10 in the standings for the fourth consecutive time and fourth time in five Champ Car seasons (missed out only in 1999, his rookie year).
Da Matta, who spent the last two season competing in Formula One, is campaigning his first season with PKV Racing. He will be making his 92nd career start, 13th with the team and second in Mexico City. The talented and personable 31-year-old Brazilian has finished in the top-10 in five of the 12 races contested this year. He has qualified in the top-10 in 11 of the 12 events this year (missing out only in San Jose) with a best starting position of second in Cleveland (he has qualified fourth three times Milwaukee, Las Vegas and Australia). He is only start in Mexico City, in 2002, the resident of Miami, FL qualified 12th, but battled his way to a second place finish.
"Heading into the final race of the season the goal for the Bell Micro/PKV Racing team is to finish in the top-10 in the standings," da Matta said. "We are only five points out of 10th place and based on the way the car performed in qualifying at Surfers Paradise, I am confident we can achieve that goal," he noted. "The whole PKV Racing team has worked very hard this year and I would like to finish off the season with a very good performance in Mexico City. Hopefully, we can end the year with one car in the top-five and both in the top-10 in the final standings," da Matta concluded.
PKV Racing is making its fourth and fifth starts while competing in its third race in Mexico City. In three previous starts (two races) they have a best qualifying position of fourth by Vasser in 2004. They finished in the top-five twice in their three starts with Mika Salo placing fifth in 2003 and Vasser finishing fifth in 2004.
After the first 12 races in the 2005 Champ Car World Series season, PKV Racing has established a number of team records. Da Matta scored the team's first victory in their two plus year history in Portland (round #4) while Vasser earned the team's first pole in round #3 at Milwaukee. The two drivers have combined to set team records for best combined qualifying, first and fourth at Milwaukee and best combined finish, first and sixth at Portland. They have both qualified in the top-five twice (Milwaukee and Las Vegas, Vasser -- third, da Matta -- fourth) and in the top-10 in a team record ten races, including a team record six consecutive races. Da Matta and Vasser have finished in the top-10 in the same race three times (eighth/10th at Long Beach; first/sixth, Portland and sixth/seventh, Montreal) this year and at least one of them placed in the top-six in eight of the 12 events including five consecutive races (the streak ended in Edmonton), which is also a team record.
The Gran Premio Telmex-Tecate Presented by Banamex, November 4-6, at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City, Mexico will be televised live at 3:30 p.m. (ET) on SPEED Channel.