CHAMPCAR/CART: Milwaukee: NHR pre-race notes

Points Leader Bourdais and 2nd Place Junqueira Tackle Milwaukee MILWAUKEE (June 2, 2004) --- McDonald's ® driver Sebastien Bourdais enters the Time Warner Cable Road Runner 250 at the Milwaukee Mile as the Champ Car points leader for the first...

Points Leader Bourdais and 2nd Place Junqueira Tackle Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE (June 2, 2004) --- McDonald's ® driver Sebastien Bourdais enters the Time Warner Cable Road Runner 250 at the Milwaukee Mile as the Champ Car points leader for the first time in his career but reversing his team's result at their most disappointing event in 2003 is foremost on his mind. Collectively Bourdais and PacifiCare driver Bruno Junqueira put Newman/Haas Racing on the podium a total of 16 times in 18 Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford events last season but the team struggled at Milwaukee Mile. Added incentive is the fact that the team considers the venue their "home race" due to its one-hour commute from their Lincolnshire, Ill. race shop.

"It's still a mystery why we were not competitive in Milwaukee last year," said Bourdais, who took the lead with his victory from pole in the previous race in Monterrey, Mexico. "We were really struggling. Bruno was P11 (position 11) and I was P9 after the first practice session and we just kept having a miserable weekend. Bruno crashed at the start and I just lost my confidence completely when I saw him crash. It was a very difficult and long evening for me. Everyone told me that if you have a good car on a short oval you're going to have a very nice race and if you have a bad car, you're going to have the worst time of your life and I guess I had this moment."

In their 22nd season of Champ Car competition, Newman/Haas Racing has won SIX events at the famed 1.032-mile oval on the grounds of the Wisconsin State Fair Park although they haven't been represented on the top rung of the podium since Michael Andretti won here in 1996. Of their 79 pole positions, only one has come here when Mario Andretti earned the top starting spot in 1985. Because the new Champ Car point system rewards consistent top finishes, Bourdais and Junqueira can find comfort in the fact that NHR team drivers have finished in the top-three a total of 11 times here.

In order to improve their competitiveness at this track, both Newman/Haas Racing drivers tested at the Milwaukee Mile oval on May 5-6. Since that time Junqueira has spent only three nights in his own bed in Miami due to a full schedule to prepare for the Indianapolis 500 as well as attend the Champ Car race in Mexico and test in Elkhart Lake, Wisc. Despite the extensive travelling, Junqueira is energized about returning to Milwaukee for his third race in as many weeks and second straight on an oval track.

"There is a big difference between (the tracks in) Indy and Milwaukee," said Junqueira whose best finish here in three starts is fourth place in his rookie season in 2001. "We will be coming from a race on 2.5 mile Superspeedway to a race on a one-mile oval. They are two different animals but the PacifiCare team is ready for the challenge. Milwaukee was really difficult last year. I had my first big crash on an oval at the start of the race and scored no points there. The car wasn't too good but we had a test there a month ago and we were quite quick and are confident that we can do much better this year in Milwaukee."

"We worked really hard in the two day test we did at the beginning of May and I think we made a lot of progress," added Bourdais, who finished ninth in the event last year despite having to pit on the pace laps due to an overheating engine prior to the start. "Hopefully we can produce a better result for the McDonald's team this year. They are based in Chicago so this is not only a home event for Newman/Haas Racing, it's also the closest event to my sponsors headquarters."

Heading into Round 3 of 16 this season, Bourdais holds a five-point advantage over Junqueira who has 57 points. Paul Tracy is third with 49 points. The 250-lap Time Warner Cable Road Runner 250 will be televised live on HDNet at 9 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 5 as well as shown on a tape-delayed basis on Sunday on SpikeTV at 4 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT.

Newman/Haas Racing, owned by actor/race car driver Paul Newman and racing entrepreneur Carl A. Haas, is the most successful team competing in the Champ Car World Series. The team is in the midst of their 22nd season in Champ Car competition in 2004 and will attempt to score their fifth overall title after winning 74 races and 79 pole positions. Current drivers Bruno Junqueira and Sebastien Bourdais were preceded at the team by Mario and Michael Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Paul Tracy, Christian Fittipaldi and Cristiano da Matta. For more information log on to www.newman-haas.com, www.brunojunqueira.com, www.sebastien-bourdais.com or www.champcarworldseries.com.

-NHR-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Bruno Junqueira , Paul Tracy , Nigel Mansell , Mario Andretti , Paul Newman , Sébastien Bourdais , Cristiano da Matta